Reviews: Stop trying to control the narrative. Get ahead of the story.

by | Nov 1, 2019 | Latest, Stories

A few years back, I was working with an online store, and the owner was adamant about not allowing people to leave reviews.

I couldn’t understand why.

They had a huge line of amazing products, and a deeply passionate fan base. The sales were split 50/50 between inside and outside the fan base.

Inviting happy buyers to leave reviews (that we could then use for better marketing) seemed like a no-brainer.

But the owner was paranoid about getting a bad review. And nothing could sway them, even the potential for a windfall of good ones.

That was when I realized that many small business owners struggle from a need to control the narrative, instead of getting ahead of the story.

The person was operating from a mindset that couldn’t stomach any sort of public negativity. And would rather shut down all feedback from their tribe to ensure that they continued broadcasting quality and safety.

There’s a problem with that though, especially today. It’s become standard to look for reviews, to see what others say about a product – because the owner is naturally biased.

But no reviews might mean zero interest. And blocking them all for fear of negative ones does something you might not expect.

Those conversations are going to happen, with or without you. And if they can’t happen on your site, then they’ll start up in a forum, or a reddit thread, or in a Facebook group.

And you won’t be invited to share your insights or thoughts. They’ll just roast you and you’ll have no idea it’s happening.

I can say that because I found those threads and discussions.

What was weird was that most of the responses could have been easily resolved.

  • ‘A new edition of the book is coming out; it resolves these issues.’
  • ‘We’ve hired new staff’
  • ‘We’ve re-invented the process so that it never happens again’

And so on.

Excluding any review is a terrible idea. Because then you’re not giving your superfans a chance to stand up for you, and lend their support.

Focus on staying ahead of the story. Because any time that you involve other people, you won’t be able to control the narrative.

Keep leading. Keep engaging. Keep being human.

Or else they’ll have their conversations, and you’re not invited.

Have you seen this? Perhaps with your brand, or someone elses? What do you think?

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Jules Webb
11 months ago

These are really good insights. I’ve run into similar push back from clients in the past, but luckily not so much lately. I’ll have to remember to use your tack when and if this comes up again. Getting out in front of the story is smart and easy for people to relate to. There’s a lot to know about the online landscape and I’m sure it can be overwhelming for owners who are busy trying running their own business in the brick and mortar world.

Hi, I’m Dominic! A novelist-turned-marketer, who believes that connecting people faster gets things done! Your stories are the key to branding that stands out, content that spellbinds, and marketing that stays top of mind.  Meet Dominic →

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