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Insights into the Online World

Gordon Ramsay - Modern Earth Web Design - SEO - Winnipeg ManitobaBy now you’ve likely heard or read something about the Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Nightmare’s episode featuring Amy’s Baking Company (the site may be temporarily offline) – there has been a wealth of media coverage on the details – from Profit Magazine to Buzzfeed to Forbes and beyond.  Many of the sites, like Forbes, give you the reader some good advice on what to do/not to do.  I’d like to approach it a bit differently.

It is important to keep in mind that the businesses that choose to participate in the Kitchen Nightmares experience are a) struggling to survive, b) aware that it is a televised event and c) they know Gordon Ramsey’s temperament.  At the outset, the free publicity, new recipes from a Michelin chef and expert management advice should outweigh the embarrassment of airing your dirty refrigerator in public and being called a donkey or worse. 

Many businesses just like yours need a set of outside eyes to help them maximize their potential.  We all get too close to our established routines and practices, eat our own dog food, drink our own Kool-Aid™ and think we’re doing well EVEN WHEN the numbers aren’t there to back up our deeply held beliefs.  Hiring a regional consultant like Modern Earth to provide online marketing consultation may not get you on national television, and while I can guarantee that no one will swear at you, you may experience some uncomfortable moments as you discover where there are opportunities for improvement in your online marketing plan.

When You Hire A Consultant – You are hiring someone who is more expert than you are, who will give you their honest opinion based on the wealth of their experience.  They will point out what is good, and focus on what needs improvement because that is presumably why you hired them.   They will be thorough.  They will find the dirty laundry, inept serving staff, glasses with lipstick stains, and the rotten food in the fridge.  You have hired them to see what is in front of them that you aren’t seeing.  If you aren’t going to give them unlimited access to your information and team members, or you aren’t prepared to listen to them, don’t waste your money. 

When You Get Your Report – All you will hear are the negatives, and you will become defensive.  You will see these 24karat nuggets of wisdom as fool’s gold.  You will argue.  You will explain.  Your feelings will be hurt, even if things are presented in the most pleasant and encouraging way.  You will settle into your mental vacation spot in Egypt (we all spent time in denial).  You will complain.  What you don’t want to do is start a conversation in social media about how badly your hired consultant has made you feel, how inept or unprofessional they are (unless there is actual ineptitude or unprofessionalism happening), and how they just don’t know what they are talking about because everyone loves your frozen ravioli and that it is fine for you to take the money from the staff tip jar,  even when your 50% tables are empty and you have incredibly high staff turnover.

Facebook Comments – Because a local consultant is not likely to have a camera crew in tow to capture footage for a national television program, they will treat their report to you as confidential.  Only you can choose to make its contents public.  If you do decide to do so, and you use a social media channel, expect some comments.  Some people may agree with you.  Some will not.  Choose how you are going to respond and don’t feed the trolls.  Always be kind.  Never say your site has been hacked when it has not.  Take responsibility for what you post – even when you may have been wrong.  Especially WHEN you HAVE been wrong.  

Satisfaction is the Expectation - Some of the people reading your social media streams are former or current customers/clients – and they know what the truth about the quality of your pizza crust.  They hear how you talk to your staff, or other clients in your business space.  They know if you are selling quality food, and if your delivery guy was on time.  When a person has a good experience with a company, they will tell 3 people in person, and maybe mention it on social media.  When a person has a bad experience with a company, they will tell 10 people in person and definitely mention it on social media.  Your brand is defined by the people who use your services and buy your goods.  It’s a World of Mouth, because people will talk about you for good or bad.  Indifference equals invisibility.  If you don’t know how to manage your social media reputation or are too afraid of the imagined backlash – there are people who can help (like the Modern Earth team).

World of Mouth - Modern Earth Web Design - Online Marketing - Winnipeg Manitoba

Get the Help You Need – My concern is that the ABC experience will make some business owners afraid to hire professional consultants to help them grow their business.  Too afraid of being made to feel badly about what they are doing.  Unable to accept constructive criticism, and too set in their ways to implement the hard work of change and improvement.  Too convinced that the old way is still working, when they don’t know that there are new tools and strategies to help them move forward.  Mostly I’m afraid that small businesses will abandon or choose to ignore social media as a viable business marketing channel,  because of the ferociousness of the backlash (deserved or otherwise) that this ABC brouhaha has created online.

So to sum it up – you are thinking about hiring an outside expert on online marketing because your online presence needs updating, your business is not reaching its full online marketing potential or perhaps you may be in deeper trouble.  Step back from your ego and emotional reaction and learn all you can from the experts you engage. Do what it takes to put the recommendations into place and refine the process as you see results.  Learn how to use today’s free media tools to your best advantage, and cultivate, curate and manage your online reputation.  Share your success, learn from your challenges.  Treat social media less like a broadcast channel and more like a cocktail party, where your conversation is going to heard by everyone around you, who will tell their friends when they hear something interesting.

Since 1999, Modern Earth Web Design has specialized in helping small and medium businesses maximize their online presence through great custom web design and online marketing consulting and training.  We are here to help you get more customers, do more business and be more successful.  If you are thinking about a new website, or perhaps hiring an online marketing consultant, we’d love to talk to you and see if we can help. We won’t call you a donkey.