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Guest

Five Tips for Business Success on Yelp

By: Guest | April 14, 2011 | 
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Jay PinkertJay Pinkert is a principal with Shatterbox, a marketing and communications consultancy that helps professional firms and small businesses distinguish their brand and win clients through content-driven programs and niche development.

Shane Bryant, founder and owner of HVAC service company Smart Air in Austin, Texas, didn’t seek referral business through Yelpit found him.

A scant two years since Shane launched his company and the first five-star reviews started appearing on the local business ratings and reviews site, more than 70 percent of Smart Air’s leads are directly attributable to Yelp, and the company has grown from two employees to eight.

Shane was a social media skeptic then and wasn’t familiar with Yelp until that initial string of rave reviews prompted the site’s ad sales department to contact him.

Even now he’s not an active social media marketer. He’s tried SEO optimization (“$600/month for nothing”) and other local business review sites (“They can be manipulated”). He’s tried a sponsorship in a local radio station’s concert series and a booth in a home and garden show (no lift from either).

Nothing so far has performed as well as user-generated content on Yelp – his self-sustaining marketing engine.

So What’s the Secret?

Having worked at several high-end Austin restaurants (The Four Seasons Hotel, Fonda San Miguel, Jeffrey’s) in a previous incarnation, Shane consciously patterns his service delivery model on their examples of quality, responsiveness, attention to detail and consistency. “A Four Seasons guest can always tell you exactly why they chose to stay there – an exceptional experience every time.”

Shane reasons that Yelp reviewers and visitors are members of that same demographic group: Not price-driven, and they recognize and reward great customer experiences – his brand’s sweet spot.

Being honest in this field seems pretty effective. We do a quality job and we’re honorable. Yes, we make mistakes, but how we handle mistakes helps define us.

What’s Next?

Encouraged by his WOM momentum, Shane’s now exploring ways to raise awareness of and generate more leads for his new system installation and weatherization services.

He is in the process of revising his website design and content strategy to better communicate the company’s services portfolio, as well as his vision and values as an Austin-based business engaged in community and environmental issues.

The new site will incorporate video and downloadable content.

Shane’s Tips for Small Business Success on Yelp

  • Focus on providing an exceptional customer experience, and the reviews will take care of themselves.
  • Don’t try to game the system. Unlike other local ratings and reviews sites, Yelp’s system filters reviews based on factors like previous site participation. Filtered reviews are still available for viewing, but they don’t appear on the main reviews page, and the corresponding ratings are not included in the overall calculation.
  • Invest in training. The customer experience should be the same whether the owner is on site or not.
  • Monitor and learn from your competitors’ reviews.
  • Share your Yelp success stories when speaking with customers. It can lead to interesting new opportunities (like this blog post).

What has your Yelp experience been like? What strategies and tactics have worked – and not worked – for you?

Jay Pinkert is a principal with Shatterbox, a marketing and communications consultancy that helps professional firms and small businesses distinguish their brand and win clients through content-driven programs and niche development.

10 comments
Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

Jay, I mentioned this to you before: i think Yelp and some of these (not all) location based services are a HUGE opportunity for businesses such as Smart Air and any B2C businesses. (really even for b2b). What I love most about your post is the first tip you provide for taking advantage of Yelp is to focus on the customer experience. There's no secret to it, and nothing has changed. Be the company you want your customers talking about and let them do the talking for you.

dinodogan
dinodogan

lol...wow...you guys are making me feel bad. I just left a comment on another blog that talked about Foursquare. And I am copying that comment and will paste it here :-p

I really feel left out. I dont have one of the fancy smart phones so I cant use these types of services. I feel so 1998 :-(

All joking aside, great to see you here Jay :-)

BobReed
BobReed

Insightful tips, Jay. They mirror the crux of the conversation I have planned with a new client.

kirapermunian
kirapermunian

As always, I really like tips that are realistic and highly applicable just like this one. Thanks for sharing the secret. I absorbed it and will definitely apply to myself too.

barrettsbook
barrettsbook

@Lisa Gerber , Jay, that first tip really is the magic of social media. The good guys, and not just the loudest guys, really have a chance to shine,

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@Lisa GerberThanks for your kind comments. It's easy to become jaded at a time when even "authenticity" is packaged and spun, so I love Shane's story because it requires no embellishment or explanation.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@dinodogan

Thanks for the shout out! And don't feel bad about your phone. I'm still a fan of snail mail -- in kind of an old-school, verging on steampunk way.

FollowtheLawyer
FollowtheLawyer

@kirapermunian I'm glad you found Shane's story relevant and useful. Goes to show that big brands don't have a monopoly on insight and leadership in WOM marketing.

kirapermunian
kirapermunian

@FollowtheLawyer WOM requires a different mentality and approach I think. The reason why many marketers have not shifted to WOM Marketing is that many are not set up to nurture one-on-one marketing.

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you infer from that statement a recommendation or endorsement, please don’t. It’s a shame, too, because with a bit more transparency and salesmanship on your part, I gladly would have paid for additional work, and given you a full-throated endorsement (I’ve been known to blog about the power of positive Yelp reviews). […]

  2. […] Five Tips for Business Success on Yelp by Jay Pinkert. (April 14) […]

  3. […] system” is the advice Smart Air founder Bryant gave Infusionsoft’s Jay Pinkert for Spinsucks.com. “Unlike other local ratings and reviews sites,” Pinkert writes, “Yelp’s system […]

  4. […] If you infer from that statement a recommendation or endorsement, please don’t. It’s a shame, too, because with a bit more transparency and salesmanship on your part, I gladly would have paid for additional work, and given you a full-throated endorsement (I’ve been known to blog about the power of positive Yelp reviews). […]