5 Steps to Help Your Business Thrive in a Time of Economic Uncertainty

With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), you are not only responsible for your personal health and the health of your loved ones, but also for the health of your business. With the U.S. economy potentially headed for a recession, the country is in a severe state of economic uncertainty, and that is not good for business. However, it can be good for your business if you take certain steps to adapt. 

Consumers will continue spending, and someone has to be there to meet that demand. Just because there’s economic uncertainty, doesn’t mean that you still don’t have payroll and other financial obligations to meet, or sales goals to achieve. You must adapt in order to keep the train on the tracks, and potentially come out of this economic turmoil with an even stronger business.

Here are five ways you can take advantage of the current state of uncertainty.

Step 1: Ramp up marketing while your competitors sit on the sidelines

Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” With many of your competitors pulling back, this is the perfect opportunity to ramp up your sales and marketing activities, potentially at a lower cost. Advertising costs in general will decline, which means your marketing budget will go further than it did before. This presents a prime opportunity to gain market share from your competitors, and position your company to be even stronger and more dominant than it was before.

Step 2: Evaluate expenses, and trim the fat

Times like this present a great opportunity to evaluate your expenses and determine if there is any fat you can trim. Do you have any unnecessary expenditures that can be reduced? For example, we recently replaced K cups in our office with a 30oz can of Folgers. With this change, we went from spending roughly $80 per month on coffee to just $7 per month. This resulted in a savings of almost $900 over the course of a year. We also reduced the janitorial services for our office from twice a week to once a week. The office is just as clean as it was before, but for half the cost. We’re now saving over $1000 per month from those changes, and have since reallocated those funds to our own marketing efforts, where we typically see a 3x to 5x return. So, we’re not only saving $1000 per month, we’re actually earning an average of $4000 per month from those reductions in our office expenditures.

Step 3: Strengthen your team and encourage professional development

Use this opportunity to strengthen your team. Economic uncertainty impacts your employees just as much as it impacts you. It’s important to keep employee morale up during this time. Take a few minutes to check in with each of your employees and see how they’re doing. This also gives you an opportunity to provide your employees with feedback and encourage them to take advantage of professional development opportunities if business slows. If you have any employees who are underperforming, this is also a good time to address those issues. You can’t afford to have employees who aren’t significant contributors to the company’s bottom line during uncertain economic times.

Step 4: Reevaluate your business plan and be prepared to pivot

In the event business slows, use that time to reevaluate your business plan. There may be opportunities for growth that you haven’t thought of, or weren’t present before. For instance, you may be able to pivot to a different offering or serve a different audience. There may also be opportunities to improve your operations. For example, if and when things slow for your business, use this time to focus on building better systems and improving efficiencies. This can result in increased productivity and ultimately a more profitable business once things pick back up.

Step 5: Place more emphasis on digital marketing

Companies that typically rely on in-person networking, conferences, and tradeshows to drive new business will have to find alternative means of generating business. Sales quotas must still be met, but the traditional planes, trains, and automobiles method isn’t going to work as long as COVID-19 is an issue. There is a tremendous opportunity here for those that have historically relied on networking to create a digital marketing strategy to replace this lost revenue. Develop a digital marketing plan with a heavy emphasis on search engine optimization, social media marketing, and retargeting. Keep in mind that if people are stuck in their homes for long periods of time, they will be spending a lot of time on Google and Facebook.

Regardless of what the future holds, take this opportunity to evaluate your business and make the changes that are necessary to not only survive, but to continue to grow and thrive.


How to Win on Google in 2020

The end of the year is fast approaching. Hopefully, you have already started planning your marketing strategy for 2020 and Google is a significant component. If you haven’t, I suggest getting started so that you can begin the year strong. There are three key elements to winning on Google in 2020. 

  1. Convince Google that you’re the authority in your market by consistently publishing high quality content on the niche(s) you want to dominate.
  2. Make acquiring positive Google reviews a priority. This increases your credibility and the likelihood that a prospect will ultimately convert.
  3. Don’t rely solely on Google Ads. Diversify your strategy by incorporating SEO. Many of your competitors rely on paid search, which leaves the window wide open for you to dominate organic search.

Convince Google That You’re the Authority in Your Market

By this, I mean convince Google that you are the authority within your niche or market. How do you accomplish this? By producing high quality content that your clientele will engage with on your website. By producing that high quality content, not only are you feeding the Google monster with content to index (Google loves fresh, quality content), but you’re also providing your clientele with content that they engage with, which increases your website’s engagement metrics and, in return, increases your rankings. Google likes to see those engagement metrics go up as they crawl and re-crawl your site throughout the year. And because we’re focusing on a specific niche or theme, we are telling Google that we are the authority in that niche or particular topic. When it comes to that particular content, you are the subject matter expert. 

Make Acquiring Positive Google Reviews a Priority

Generating positive reviews helps tell the world that you are credible and trustworthy. Think about how many times you’ve researched a business that you might want to work with only to come across their Google My Business page and see that they have a few reviews here and there and are averaging a 2 or 3 star rating. This might cause you to think, “You know what, I’ll pass. I don’t want to take a chance on doing business with these people and not have a good experience. I don’t have time for that, and I don’t want to waste money.” So you move on to the company that has five star reviews, and lots of them. Well, your customers are doing the same exact thing. So, make sure you’re soliciting reviews from your happy customers and accumulating those super valuable 5-star ratings on your Google My Business page. 

Don’t Rely Solely on Google Ads

I still see tons of companies rely primarily on Google Ads, and they don’t really put any emphasis on organic search. This blows my mind because there’s so much opportunity there, but this is to your benefit. If your competitors are focused primarily on pay-per-click advertising then that’s good for you because that opens up the window for you to jump in and dominate organic search. You don’t have to compete with them because they aren’t even thinking about organic search. Take advantage of this opportunity to become the authority in your market and box out your competitors on organic search. 

If you want to win on Google in 2020, embracing organic search and reviews is vital.

How to Improve Your Google Reviews

Are you struggling to improve your business’s online rating despite providing exceptional service? Unsure of how to acquire Google reviews, or how to increase your Google rating? Maybe you need consumers to leave positive reviews? In our inaugural vlog, we will discuss: 

  1. Why it is important to pay attention to Google reviews 
  2. How to implement a positive review process 
  3. How to address negative reviews 

Pay Attention to Google Reviews

When it comes to online reviews, Google Reviews can have a drastic impact on your business. It’s the online review platform that everyone is paying attention to. There are other review platforms out there, such as Yelp, Health Grades for healthcare, or Avvo for legal, but at the end of the day, Google trumps them all. 

Consumers are making decisions every day regarding who to do business with based on the reviews of the providers that they are considering. If your business has less than four stars, you’re losing business. If you’re neglecting to respond to negative reviews, you are losing business. Even if you have satisfied customers — guess what — you’re losing business by not soliciting them to leave positive reviews. 

Implementing a Positive Review Process

Generating positive reviews doesn’t always have to require a complicated strategy. It can be as simple as asking a customer in person or by phone if they are satisfied with the service that you are providing. If they say “yes,” ask if they could take a minute to leave a review for your business on Google; it’s as simple as that. Ideally, you want to have a strategy or process in place to consistently solicit positive reviews from your clientele. But just getting started by asking for reviews is the best thing you can do right now so that you can begin accumulating those all-important four and five star reviews.

Address Negative Reviews

Your business should never have unaddressed negative Google reviews – this gives off the perception that your business does not care about satisfying its customers. If you have a negative review that has not been responded to, go ahead and address their concerns. Do not engage them in a negative manner. Just address the review and let them know that you hear their concerns and want to resolve the issue offline. This is ultimately the goal: take the conversation offline. 

In my past experience, I’ve seen instances where we respond to negative reviews on behalf of a client which in turn helps with public perception and lets people know that they care about what customers think. In the interim, our client is communicating with that unhappy customer offline, which ultimately leads to that once poor review being changed from a one star review into a five star review. This is done by simply asking the customer what they were unhappy with and helping them resolve the issue. Often, upon seeing that the client cared, the customer will change their negative review all on their own. 

In summary, if you’re not already managing Google reviews or even paying attention to them, start doing so because it is affecting your business. If you do not have a procedure in place to attain positive reviews, start one by simply asking satisfied customers to do so and build from that. Respond to any negative reviews you may have in a neutral fashion and take the conversation offline in the hope that they remove the review on their own or even change it to a higher rating.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty: How Attorneys Can Combat Negative Reviews

As an attorney, establishing a positive reputation on Google and Avvo is crucial for remaining competitive in your local market. If you have no reviews — or worse, negative reviews — you’re going to have a hard time capturing prospective clients who base all of their decisions on online reviews. That’s why we’re going to show you how to deal with negative reviews and protect your online reputation.

How Damaging Are Negative Reviews?

If you’ve ever received a negative review after serving a client, you understand how disheartening it can be to learn that your best efforts weren’t enough to garner positive feedback. Unfortunately, reviewers don’t always treat lawyers fairly, and there’s evidence to back it up. Clients that have a negative experience are ten times more likely to leave a review than those who had a positive experience. 

Let’s run the numbers: if only one out of every ten positive experiences results in a positive review, and you receive a single one-star review, it could take up to 40 positive client experiences to offset your bad review. That’s a lot of work to overcome one negative opinion! And if you get targeted by review spam, you’re going to need more than luck to dig yourself out of the review badlands. This is part of the reason why law firm reputation management is so critical for lawyers that want to grow their practice.

Should You Manage Your Own Reviews?

Before you decide to manage your own reviews, you might want to consider how well you handle criticism. Many lawyers make the mistake of attempting to respond to reviews themselves. Despite their best efforts to remain professional, everyone has a boiling point, and you might later regret the response you penned in the heat of the moment. Negative reviews can attack more than your legal services. Reviewers might attack your character, insult your practice, and question your integrity; when this happens, you need to detach yourself from these critiques to maintain a high level of professionalism.

“Sometimes, facilitating some separation between yourself and your critics by allowing a third-party to manage your reviews is the best way to ensure that your responses are helpful, cordial, without emotion, and most of all, professional.”

If you do attempt to take on this task alone, you should always picture your reply attached to a bar counsel complaint. In this situation, would you be confident in the way you opted to handle your reply? Was your tone and content appropriate? Sometimes, facilitating some separation between yourself and your critics by allowing a third-party to manage your reviews is the best way to ensure that your responses are helpful, cordial, without emotion, and most of all, professional.

How to Address a Negative Review

You never want to be seen responding to client reviews in a manner that can be viewed as insulting, aggressive, or unprofessional; after all, your reviews and replies are public. Try to abide by the community guidelines of Avvo or other comparable sites whenever you respond to a negative review. For instance, Avvo’s community guidelines recommend that lawyers, avoid excessive self-promotion, draft original responses, and answer questions while maintaining client anonymity, among other things. 

Appropriate Response to a Negative Review

Here’s a good example of a response to a negative review that doesn’t disclose confidential or attorney-client privileged information: “Thank you for the feedback. It is our goal to serve every client’s legal needs. We are always looking to improve our services for our clients. Please contact our office at XXX-XXX-XXXX with any questions or concerns you may have.”

As you can see, this review didn’t “take the bait,” instead, it accepted the feedback and made a deliberate attempt to take the conversation offline. This is one of the fundamental principles of review management: Always take the conversation offline.

Inappropriate Response to a Negative Review

Now, let’s cover an unacceptable response to a negative review: “Thank you for the feedback. I’m personally sorry that I couldn’t get your husband’s DUI reduced to a reckless driving charge. However, there’s only so much that can be done when a DUI results in over $25,000 in property damage. As we discussed in our initial meeting, Mr. Smith’s criminal record played a significant role in the judge’s decision. I hope this justification is sufficient enough for you to remove this review.”

This response divulges too many details about the client’s case. Furthermore, it references past discussions that were conducted under attorney-client privilege. There’s more to be lost than gained here, so it’s better to tone it down.

Alternative Response to a Negative Review

If you absolutely have to get the last word, consider a response such as this: “Unfortunately, in your particular case the law didn’t support your suggested argument or strategy, we had to pivot in order to give you the best chance of achieving the best result possible.”

There’s some merit to responses like this. For one, you prove that you aren’t willing to fold, which is a great attribute for many attorneys. These types of replies also help you dismiss the negative review. However, you need to cut off communication after you leave a reply. You don’t have the time to be corresponding with past clients when your new clients need you.

Are You Having Trouble Keeping Up With Reviews?

Whether you’re unsure of how to respond or don’t have the time to engage every review, it’s important to realize that proper review responses can help you maintain relationships, attract new clients, and grow your practice.

At LEVERAGE, our reputation management services are designed to work in tandem with your SEO and social media marketing to ensure that your prominent online visibility is enhanced with an excellent online reputation. When you consult LEVERAGE for lawyer reputation management, your law firm’s reputation will soar with a comprehensive strategy that combines reviews management, solicitation, aggregation, and more. Best of all, you’ll no longer have to worry whether or not the time you spend managing reviews is paying dividends for your practice. Our experienced team puts in the necessary legwork to support your brand and position your firm as a responsive and respectable legal partner.