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Why Botto Bistro’s Review Strategy Worked

Botto Bistro pizzeria in Richmond, CA made news after developing a surprising reputation management strategy. They offered their customers a 20% discount if they’d leave a bad review on Yelp.

It’s obviously not a strategy I’d recommend to everyone, even though the gambit offered major dividends. 1,200 tongue-in-cheek, 1-star reviews are nothing to sneeze at. Botto Bistro also received a lot of positive press: numerous articles in major publications.

However, as a reputation manager I do think that the story offers some real takeaways for other businesses.

They played into their brand and they knew their customer base.

Botto Bistro already had an irreverent, in-your-face brand that said, “We make great food here, and the right customers are going to understand that. We’re not going to change for anyone.” Their customers knew that about them, and loved that about them.

If they had never acted in such a way before—if, for example, they’d created a very high brow, elegant “service with a smile” brand—I suspect the promotion would have backfired because it wouldn’t have resonated with their customers.

The takeaway? Carefully evaluate any promotion, discount, event or social media campaign to ensure that it builds your brand. Discordant messages are as dangerous to your reputation as bad reviews are, while congruent messages are powerful magnets for generating positive buzz.

They’re great at what they do.

The Botto Bistro strategy wouldn’t have been funny or helpful if they didn’t genuinely make great food that people love. They’ve been in business for over 2 decades, which speaks to their skills. If their establishment was truly dirty, unpleasant, or sloppy in any way then they wouldn’t have gotten sarcastic, funny one-star reviews. They’d have gotten genuine one-star reviews. Worse, they wouldn’t be keeping their customer base.

As I’ve mentioned before, reputation management can’t turn a bad business into a good business. It can help you maintain a cohesive, positive brand. It can help shield you from problems when you get targeted by unfair, malicious people. It can’t put lipstick on a pig. If your reputation isn’t all that it could be then I also recommend taking a hard look at your business so that you can target areas for improvement.

Nobody will rush to your defense if you put out an inferior product—even if you ask them to rush to your defense in a funny, cool way which plays into their existing frustrations (the campaign also worked because Yelp’s own reputation isn’t so hot).

Even if you think your product is awesome, it’s very, very important to clean house before attempting to call a lot of attention to your business. Otherwise, the attention you receive may be very different from the attention you want.

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams

Need not Apply – The Impact of Online Mugshots

A 2011 study from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) called “Need not Apply” showed that 65 million Americans who have criminal records ran into challenges obtaining work because many employers use background checks when hiring.  The results of this studies and others like it are both shocking and serious.  Whether it’s a full-on conviction that is the problem or a casual web search, the fact is that most people have no control over what could turn up in the employment process.  Convictions may have had their time served, could be dismissed, or perhaps even expunged, but the unfortunate truth is that if they turn up in a person’s background, they may never get a chance to explain what happened and why it’s in the past. 

“In recent years, the criminal background check industry has grown exponentially. Particularly in the wake of 9/11, the ready availability of inexpensive commercial background checks has made them a popular employee screening tool. In one survey, more than 90 percent of companies reported using criminal background checks for their hiring decisions.” – Michelle Natividad Rodriguez, Maurice Emsellem, NELP March 2011

The NELP study calls for reform for criminal background checks for employment.  While some reform has aimed to help those affected by past records through the process of expunging records, the fact is there are loopholes in these statutes when this public information is mined by outside companies or reported on by the media. 

Arrest records can be equally embarrassing and may have a considerable impact on an individual’s employment, reputation and personal lives as well.  No one is immune from this, and you’ve probably seen the celebrity mug shots on the news, the web and television.  The problem with that is that once an arrest has been made, it is a matter of public record. The standard of law allows for arrests to be on that public record even if that person has not been convicted.  The number of people potentially affected by this is pretty staggering: the National Academy of Pediatrics reports that a significant number of Americans have some kind of arrest records and nearly one-third of American adults have been arrested by the age of twenty three. 
By age 18, the in-sample cumulative arrest prevalence rate lies between 15.9% and 26.8%; at age 23, it lies between 25.3% and 41.4%. … The greatest growth in the cumulative prevalence of arrest occurs during late adolescence and the period of early or emerging adulthood.  – Brame, Turner, Paternoster, Bushway

Those who have been arrested find themselves facing the reality that there is a lot more to worry about than the arrest itself and more than just spending some time in jail.  In today’s data-hungry society, that information, the picture that was taken when the arrest was made, and the charges that led to the arrest - all of those things have the potential to persist in ways beyond an individual’s control.  It’s not just a matter of doing your time or ‘paying a debt’ to society, it could literally become a lifelong ‘scarlet letter’.   Whether it’s an employment situation or perhaps you are in some kind of dating scene, the fact is people often look to see what they can find out quickly about a person.

Unfortunately, perception is the most common problem, and while some records may fade over time, that could be a long period of missed opportunities, business dealings, and even personal relationships missed.  There is a huge collateral cost that this kind of branding could put on daily living.  In a great deal of cases, the lasting offense may be the result of an isolated error in judgment or an indiscretion of youth.  It very well could be that they have paid significant fines and taken responsibilities for their actions, but are unable to move on because of these public records. 

What we do in reputation management is help people clear that information up from the internet, so it becomes harder to find and so that it may fade into the past much faster.  Left on its own, most people will not have great success in getting things like:

·         mug shots removed making references to arrest incident in the media less relevant
·         getting simple arrest records removed from third party sites
There’s just too much of this information out there. 

  The process could be long or even practically impossible.  Terms of removal from certain sites could incur major costs.   That’s where our specialty comes in.  We don’t remove legitimate public records, but we do make it harder for that third party information to come up.  Most people don’t’ search beyond a few pages or are willing to put up a payment for advanced background info that some sites might ask for. 

 That’s what we do.  It’s about second chances and rebuilding people’s access to things that most people don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.  Employers, lenders, and pretty much anybody are most likely looking for any information they can get to judge people’s trustworthiness.  After all, it’s the age of data and information is very easy to find.  Despite the fact that in many cases, there is a legal obligation to disclose criminal record, especially if it involves a felony or conviction, it isn’t something that has to be the first thing people find on their own.  

When you focus on arrest records, mug shots, and minor offenses - these incidents don’t have to dictate your reputation or opportunities if you take action.  Engaging with a professional reputation management should be one of your primary steps if you are a professional, businessman, or a person in almost any walk of life following an incident like this.  The lasting impact of minor incidents, is affected by the fact that laws, information and the intended impact of certain events haven’t exactly emerged at the same time.  In many cases, it’s disproportional and unfortunately that impact can be greater than a crime or a simple arrest merits. 

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams

3 Reasons Why Your Sales Team Isn’t Getting Results

A sales team which underperforms shifts your business into neutral—you’re not going to get anywhere. Your sales team is, after all, the number one source of revenue for your business.
Don’t let your mood plummet right along with your numbers. Just determine whether or not your sales team is suffering from any of these three common problems, and then make corrections.

1. You’ve assumed that success at a previous company means success at your company.

So you hired great sales representatives, all of whom did a stellar job at previous positions. They had the numbers to back up the skills that they were claiming. So why are they tanking at your company?
Every company is different. Each company offers different levels of training and support. Different products come with different sales cycles. Some products require different pre-qualification or prospecting skills.

So go ahead and hire for experience, but don’t let that experience lead you to avoid a thorough on-boarding process which trains new reps on every aspect of what it takes to be successful in your business.

2. You haven’t successfully communicated your target market to your sales team.

Some companies literally throw the phone book—the entire phone book—at sales representatives. “Here’s your prospect list. Let’s get to work!”
But no company can sell to everyone.

Your business should do everything it can to identify the customers who are the most likely to purchase your product. Not just the customers with the interest, but the customers with the means. You should also identify the best way to approach these customers.

That way, you can send your sales team to spend most of their time speaking to customers who are likely to buy. This offers them a steady stream of wins, which improves their motivation and inspires them to work harder. You also get more revenue, since your reps are wasting less time.

3. You haven’t developed a sales system.

Don’t put your sales force on the phones or send them out into the streets without some sort of a sales system in place. That system should offer scripts for every step of the sales process, scripts that have been written, tested, and perfected so that they help move the customer from the initial contact clear up to the close of the sale.

If you don’t have a sales system yet, make the development of such a system Priority One. Your sales force is never going to improve if you believe it’s all about “talking to people.” Successful sales reps don’t wing it, and they achieve good results because they know what they’re supposed to be doing, not because they have the gift of gab.

Reviewed by author: Ashley Adams


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