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Dirty Marketing: Protect Yourself from Getting Burned

Maybe you've been on either side of this situation: two or more local shops, each desperate for the upper hand, resort to questionable tactics to undercut each other, rather than working to create value with their own customers. These tactics include fake reviews, price wars, or even lying to their own potential clients.

It is a dog-eat-dog world out there, and we all know that this industry isn't for the faint of heart. With new stores popping up every day in some areas, it's easy to feel like you have no other choice than to play dirty. However, attempting shortcuts like this can end badly for you in the long run, especially if you get caught in a lie!

What about us good guys though? How can we protect ourselves from a "dirty marketing" attack? Have no fear. Here are some tips to help keep your guard up.

1) Don't play dirty.

Remember, only lazy people resort to these dangerous shortcuts, and your customers will see that. Don't risk your customer's trust by sinking to that level in the first place. Dirty tactics also attract dirty attacks. You're not only risking the trust of your customers, but the reputation of your business. A little white lie or fake review on your competitor's Google page may make an immediate impact, but long-term negative effects will surely outweigh it.

2) Deal with fake reviews the RIGHT way.

Don't fight fire with fire! Seeing a fake review can ignite a deep rage that could blur your vision and impair your decision-making. Take a deep breath! Respond to the reviewer just as you would with anyone else. Your audience will be able to tell if the review is authentic or not, especially if you attempt to establish the authenticity of the author. If you can, flag the fake review as spam, or delete it from the page altogether. Just don't throw yourself under the bus by filtering out ALL of the negative reviews that you receive. In some cases, consumers actually trust sites with some negative reviews more than sites with ONLY positive reviews. If you are receiving reviews on the daily and have trouble keeping up, you can invest in a system that verifies reviews for you, such as BirdEye, Review Trackers, or other tools that are available through your POS software. You can also find a creative way to reward honest reviewers, positive or not.

3) Take the time to educate your customer base.

Believe it or not, people actually respect and value honesty. Protect your brand by positioning yourself as a resource as well as a service for your community. This helps set up a barrier from low blows like false information and rumors. A company that provides transparency earns the respect of their customers, and those customers will look out for you when they trust you. (This will also help YOU realize that you don't need to resort to these tactics either.)

Create some documents that can help explain some of the industry to your customers. Talk about why you can't just change the front glass of an iPhone screen, why their Samsung phones costs so much to repair, and why the shop down the street most likely DOESN'T have OEM Apple parts if they're only charging $30 for an iPhone screen replacement. Remember how shocked you were to find some of these things out when you first entered the industry? Be patient. Take the long road. Don't be lazy, and PLEASE don't be dirty.

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