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Will manufacturers show product reviews?

Last year I talked about the Three R’s of Web Marketing, to be real, relevant, and responsive. But the truth is that being real is challenging. Let’s take a real-life example—do you expect product manufacturers to post product reviews?


We’ve all seen customer-posted product ratings and reviews on retail Web sites. Amazon’s got ’em. Shopping comparison engines do, too. And customers love to read them.
Some retailers have been reluctant to post ratings and reviews, however. They reason that they want to put their best foot forward—no need to say anything negative about something they sell. After all, why talk someone out of a purchase?
The truth, however, is that reviews talk customers into purchases. In fact, if customers don’t get reviews on your site, they’ll look elsewhere until they find them.
So, retailers have gradually talked themselves into providing ratings and reviews, because customers can pick between all of their choices and buy something. But manufacturers? Why would they want reviews? They may make only one model of a product—a bad review might cause the customer to buy from a different manufacturer.
It takes real guts for manufacturers to allow reviews to be posted.
Well, take a look at someone with guts: Curt Sasaki, Vice President of .SUN Web Properties at Sun Microsystems. Curt and his team has put product ratings and reviews for all of Sun’s products on sun.com—a sign of supreme confidence in what they sell.
Curt told me that what I call being real, Sun calls “openness and transparency,” and that it comes down from “the top of the company, Jonathan Schwartz,” Sun’s CEO. Schwartz is notable as that rare species, a CEO blogger, but providing product ratings and reviews really turns your marketing message over to your customers.
Sun had found that for every bad review they get, they get several good ones. Curt says that the really crazy reviews are “self-correcting”—someone sane comes along to override them soon enough.
Sun’s mot stopping, either. They’ve now started syndicating blog feeds from Technorati alongside the 3700 blogs from Sun employees. Do those blogs from outside Sun always say what Sun wants? Of course not. It’s not easy. But it’s real. And it’s what your customers want from you.
If they trust you are being straight, they will believe more of what you say. And that is the basis of persuading them to buy from you.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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