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Dispensaries of all sizes can benefit from better understanding how online reputation management (ORM) affects their business. In an increasingly savvy community of consumers, it’s becoming more common than not for them to do their research before making a purchase with you. From your inception, you’ve invested in all the right marketing, branding, display design, but if make the mistake of overlooking ORM, it could be all for nothing.
ORM is monitoring search result pages (SERPs) and online mentions on social and general web content. It’s the practice of mitigating potentially destructive online mentions about your dispensary brand. Customers are going online to make better-informed decisions and they’re looking for what other people are saying about you, not just what your values and mission say on your website.
It was only a matter of years ago when consumers were considered to be more passive, but with the boom of social media and the internet, sharing opinions about ideas and brands has never been easier. Users are posting product reviews, commenting on your blog and talking about you on social. If you aren’t staying in the loop and managing reviews and comments online, you are essentially leaving your reputation up to the internet to portray as they wish.
Search Google, Bing, and Yahoo for the following:
Earning the respect of your consumers is essential in managing your online reputation. Like any healthy relationship, this doesn’t happen overnight – You’ll need to invest in earning this respect for your brand and what you do for the community over time.
Don’t be modest. If you’re doing something good for the community or giving back, share it with your local networks. Don’t expect it to hold the weight should a negative review surface and you try to ‘cover it up’ using your good deed.
Monitor Online Mentions.
Aside from responding to negative comments, you also want to craft quick and helpful responses to questions and thank users who post a good review! ORM is not all negative.
React Quickly and Politely.
We know your business means the world to you, but it’s important that you take a pause to breathe and reflect before responding. If you need more time to respond that it ok, but you should still respond with something to the tune of ‘Thank you for your feedback. We promise to get back with you as soon as possible.’ Do not ignore the comment as it will not go away and will only make you look guilty.
If something surfaces and gains lots of momentum online, you may need to make a grander step and make a public announcement addressing the criticism. Apologize, offer a solution, and make it right!
Treat Google Like Your Business Card.
First impressions carry a lot of weight online – Google is the #1 search engine in our market today. If a potential customer searches for your business, what are they finding? Work with your team to promote positive content should there be a bad review. Every moment that goes by may be a customer lost.
Understand Your Critics.
If someone has something negative to say, resolve the issue. While this does mean promoting a positive image for your brand, it also means taking into account the comment at hand. Is there something you could do better? Do you need to better clarify your messaging or offer? Are your budtenders offering up inaccurate information to customers? React and resolve if possible.
Defend Your Brand Against Illegal Aggressors.
If a user’s comments or accusations report false information, are defamatory, or are damaging to the company’s reputation – it may be worth your resources to invest in legal action. If you don’t sue them or employ retaliation, they may act out again. Unfortunately, in our industry, we are not foreign to this occurring time and time again.
Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice.
Part of the experience of being in business is experimenting and making mistakes. The first step is to apologize, while the next step is to learn from your mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Whether it’s removing a product from the shelf, retraining an employee, or giving your messaging an extra once-over – It’s important to not make the same mistake twice.
Develop a Comprehensive ORM Plan.
Your dispensary needs to implement a review-gathering strategy and invest in building your reputation with the online and offline community. Start now if you haven’t already or you’re at risk of letting a single sour apple ruin all your efforts.
Don’t be one of the businesses that read this now and doesn’t act or implement until it’s too late. It’s your responsibility to control your brand reputation online – If you don’t, the next disgruntled customer or employee that comes along will.