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With the internet landscape changing to a more socialized personal experience, Carlsbad small businesses can harness the power of social media, mobile geo-location services, and local search visibility by building a loyal army of friends and followers.

The best part is that army is already marching to the beat of our business, changing the hearts and minds of local consumers. We need to harness the power of social local mobile digital communications and participate in the conversation.

How can we make that work for our Carlsbad small business?

Search has gone social and local, and soon mostly mobile. Our local Carlsbad businesses can gain local search online visibility and garner social media credibility, but first we need to ask for help.

We need to enlist the help of our existing customers, and enable them to easily spread positive digital word of mouth about our business. In most cases it’s not even necessary to incentivize or reward our customers for doing so, but more on that later.

Let’s keep it K.I.S.S. as we always try to do. Asking customers to submit online reviews can be tastefully done to accomplish the goal of increased digital word of mouth for our Carlsbad small businesses.

Generally speaking, once properly presented with the opportunity to lend a hand, people are  happy to participate in the success of local small businesses.

Just show them how they can do it, but we also must be sure to ask them to participate. Isn’t that the number one rule in all of marketing – asking?

The Fear Factor

Simply asking our customers to leave a review on one of the local search review sites is often the biggest challenge. Sometimes we feel reluctant to ask because we’re embarrassed, maybe we’re afraid of the answer, or just don’t want to bother people and take up their time.

Engaging our customers is not a waste of time, for the business owner or the customers. When we ask people how their day is going, how can we improve their shopping experience, what can be done to facilitate delivery, or what we can do to help them better use the products or services they are purchasing from us, we are actively seeking a way to improve the customer/business relationship.

And it resonates with our customers, they feel it. And as a result they become eager participants in our success.

Customers generally want friendly service, lower prices, and better products. Local small business owners generally want more customers and higher profits. Effective communication, not lip-service, between the two parties ensures a win-win situation for all.

We need not let fear hold our businesses back any longer; we’re proud of what we sell and service. Sometime we just forget to act like it.

After we get over the sweaty palms more associated with pre-Prom anxiety than effective business communications, the next step is enabling a quick and easy way for our customers to submit (and share) their digital word of mouth.

Syndicate the dWOM

Methods to collect, capture, and circulate digital customer word of mouth can be as simple and low-tech as sticking a reminder note on their receipt.

Maybe distributing customer review cards at checkout, or down the line with a mailer/email.

Collection and distribution methods can also be tech savvy, like a tablet computer by the reception area or cash register to draw customer interest…inviting the long-time customers to leave a review on one of the local search sites, website, local search engine profiles, or any other online environment that happens to arise specific to our local Carlsbad small businesses.

No matter what method we employ to broadcast our local digital word of mouth, we need to remember to make it quick and easy for the customer. And remember whether it’s low-tech or geek-speak, the time to ask for the review is often just as crucial as how customers can transmit the message.

Timing is Everything

Maybe immediately following the transaction isn’t the best bet with capturing a customer review for your bagel shop; hot coffee and a fresh smelling baker’s dozen in hand spilling sesame seeds and hot joe all over your brand new PlayBook® or iPad2®.

And perhaps posting a sticky note on a brake job can prove challenging.

Trial and error will certainly yield results, but so will asking the customer when the most convenient time for them would be. Even a survey, or maybe just allowing customers to submit online reviews in their own time is the best bet.

Methods and times vary according to specific variables relative to our local business – what we sell, how we communicate with our customers already, and who those customers are.

Be sure to ask…but choose the time to ask wisely.

An email newsletter could be another enduring opportunity to elicit customer word of mouth. Or maybe one day per month could be dedicated to developing your business’ digital disposition.

Your website can certainly be a great place to ask for and capture existing customer digital word of mouth. Using the array of social media tools available can also make the process more user-friendly.

Rumor has it having those reviews or testimonials on your website might be a good thing too – according to Google.

Whatever method we choose to collect customer reviews and whenever we choose to ask for them, one thing remains constant and is a common link among every single Carlsbad small business; our customers are already talking about us…and most are talking online in a hundred different ways!

Wouldn’t it be better to join in the conversation while monitoring (and maximizing) your digital business identity at the same time ?