So you own a restaurant, a hotel, or a winery. It must sound like a broken record when people – especially those pesky local SEO consultants – offer up the old gem: “If you want reviews, you need to ask for them.”
Well, duh. That’s obvious. OR IS IT? Well – there’s nothing like a good example to make something even more obvious.
Last weekend, I went on Vacation in my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan. Here, you can venture 5 miles out and find yourself in the heart of rolling vineyards, cherry trees, and the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan. Please don’t come here. We try to keep it a secret so it doesn’t become overrun like Martha’s Vineyard.
Back to the point: on my Vacation, I decided to catch a bite to eat at the Boathouse Restaurant (iPhone shot above barely does the deck justice).
A few times during the meal, the Chef stopped by our table. Oh, how flattering is that?! After the mandatory fawning all over each other and exclaiming about how the marcona almonds were the perfect complement to the fish, we were discretely given a small postcard.
In an instant, my marketer’s instinct zoned in: LOCAL SEARCH GOLDMINE.
Well how about that? A custom postcard just flat-out-asking for a review. Asking for a favor. And – cleverest of all – asking on behalf not of the Boathouse, but of Traverse City.
Observe the wording of the card: “I need your help in creating a bigger on-line presence for Traverse City.”
Oooh, that’s good. If you check out their Trip Advisor page, the Boathouse is currently #1. Honestly, it almost looks like there are too many reviews on there for it to be for real.
The point here is that you need to be active in asking your customers for help. Don’t just ask for reviews – enable them. A small postcard is the perfect vehicle to facilitate this. Also, Trip Advisor is a nice starting point, but don’t rule out Yelp, Google Places, or other sites that make the best sense for your business. You could place these postcards:
- Under the dinner check receipt
- By the cash register
- By that nice vase of flowers
- Inside every order you ship out
- Inside every shopping bag you hand to a customer
- Etc, etc.
The Boathouse’s approach may be too obvious or abrasive for some. Perhaps your style isn’t to press a card on every person or even word the language in the same way – but the concept remains. You won’t get reviews unless you enable a clear path for your customers.
Written by Sarah Mackenzie.