A Review Is A Public Referral

Talking GraphicRemember when you first started your business?

Your early success depended on your good service, good products, good delivery, good craftsmanship, AND the reputation you built with your new customers. Plus, your business grew when satisfied customers spread the word and referred your business to their friends and family.

It’s really not that much different today. Except that “spreading the word” has become instantaneous with no geographic boundaries. Because of technology and available information on the internet, online reviews have become the new word of mouth.

An online customer review is now a public referral.

Referral Marketing VS. Review Marketing

Let’s look at the differences and the power of both referral marketing and review marketing:

1. Referral marketing is 1 to 1, individual to individual. Given the global visibility, online review marketing is 1 to 1000’s. Let’s face it, your customer can leave a review for 1000’s to see online before they ever walk out the front door of your business!

2. Referral marketing is usually a more private conversation. Review marketing is a very public conversation.

3. Referral marketing is finite. Once the conversation is finished, it’s gone. However, review marketing is perpetual – online for everyone to see.

4. Referral marketing is not an asset of the company. However, review marketing IS a company asset. Those online reviews (and the online marketing of those reviews) are assets that stay with the company.

So which one is more powerful? Which one does your company need most?


Today’s competitive, digital market, requires successful companies to have both covered in their marketing strategies. Businesses still rely on referrals. In addition, local businesses cannot afford to ignore the broad power and reach of review marketing.

Why Not Just Concentrate On Referrals?

I’m always glad to hear when company owners or marketing professionals say they ask every new prospect or buyer, “How did you hear about us?” As a result, many companies determine that the majority of their business comes from referrals.


And every business should definitely take the time to ask this question. But what about the next question?

“After being referred to us, what did you do next?”

Results from a recent focus group study sheds some light on what happens after the referral. Real Strategic Inc. asked more than 300 people, “After being referred a business, what do you do next?”

Here’s how they responded:


Almost 9 out of 10 are going online to find the business, even after getting a referral to the company! So, what are they seeing when they look for you online? Are they seeing positive reviews? Negative reviews? Any reviews?

And, what are they seeing about your competitors?

It’s important to understand that consumers today are very savvy decision makers. We can’t depend on them to take action just because they received a referral from their friend, neighbor, or even their mother!

Now, they have easy access to a lot more information about your business online. And they check out that information before making their final decision.

What If You Choose Not To Play?

While having a conversation with an ad agency about review marketing and the importance of building and marketing a 5-STAR reputation online, the agency executive responded, “That’s very interesting. I’ll need to talk to my client to see if he wants to get in the game.”

“I understand, and I suggest you tell him that’s he’s already in the game,” I said. “He didn’t sign up, try out, or ask to play. Instead, the moment Google started listing his business name, address, and phone number online, he was in the game. His choice is whether he wants to proactively try to win the game or sit on the bench and see what happens.”

Contact us to talk about getting into the 5-STAR reputation game!

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