WordPress Attack Alert

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Uncategorized

Danger SignATTENTION WORDPRESS USERS – There is a brute force attack happening right now aimed at WordPress sites.  If you have a WordPress site, you need to make sure your site is secure and able to withstand an attack.

The goal of a brute  force attack is to find a vulnerability that can be exploited to use a website to send spam, host malicious content, steal your website data, spamvertise or use your website to attack other web sites.   If your site falls victim to one of these attacks it can cause your site run slower, be placed on spam lists that will affect the delivery of email from you or even have your site crash or be shut down by your server.  While no site is totally safe, there are some things you should do to make your site as secure as possible.

First, use strong passwords for your WordPress login.  That is the easiest way for someone to gain access to your site.  Make sure you use something other than Admin for your user name.  That’s been the default user name so changing it makes the login process more difficult.  A strong password should be a combination of upper and lower case letters plus numbers and symbols.  The longer the password string, the longer is it takes hacking software to run all the possible combinations against your login.

Secondly, make sure WordPress, your themes and plugins are up to date.  Because of the immense  popularity of WordPress, it’s become a favorite target for hackers.  Much like your anti-virus program on your computer is continually updating, so too is WordPress.  Some WordPress installations will automatically update when new versions are available, many don’t.  If you’re is one that doesn’t, you will need to manually update your WordPress version.  When you login to your WordPress dashboard, it will show you the version you are running as well as the current version available.  As of the time of this article, the current version is 4.2.2.

Before pushing the Update To Current Version button, READ ON!  As a general rule, updating to the latest version is as simple as pushing the button.  BUT, if you haven’t updated in a while, the automatic update can cause your site to crash.  While it can be recovered, it’s not something most people are comfortable doing.  The first thing you need to do is backup your site.  There are several WordPress plugins that will backup your site. Next, check your current version.  If you are running a version lower than 4.0, you may need to install older versions step by step.  Prior to 4.0,  Wordpress did not like skipping major versions (i.e version 3.3 could not be updated to 3.6 without installing the major releases in between).

Plugins on your site will also need to be updated.  On the Updates page in your WordPress dashboard, it will show the plugins that have a newer version available.  In the more recent WordPress release, the update list will show whether the plugin is compatible with the newest version or not.  If it show it is, install the plugin update.  If it doesn’t show that, you need to decide if it’s worth the risk to update.  Worst case scenario – installing an incompatible plugin can cause your site to not work properly.  I’ve seen blank pages, forms that didn’t send emails like before and even the site come up blank.  To be safe, install the plugins one by one, checking your site in between each update.

Updating your theme is another issue.  If your theme was not modified beyond the dashboard customizations, then it’s probably safe to update.  If you made changes directly to the code, you definitely DON’T want to update.  Updating will overwrite the existing code and lose any changes you had made.

Finally, install a security program to add another layer of protection to your site.  The plugin I prefer is Wordfence.  It allows you to throttle back page or login attempts when the happen.  I set the page views per minute to 10 or less.  I also limit the login attempts to 5 or less, locking out any attempts over that for a period of time.  Wordfence also sends warning notifications.  If you find an IP that has been temporarily lock, you can add that IP to your permanent block list which will prevent it from repeated attempts.  This is only a minor fix, since sophisticated hackers can use multiple IP addresses.

WordPress is a powerful web platform, with it’s versatility and ease of use, but with that comes the security risk.  Gone are the days of build you site and let the server security take care of the risks.  Today, you must take an active role in protecting your site.  Be vigil, you never know when someone is probing your site for an opening.


Don’t Accept My Facebook Friend Request

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Ninja Marketing

Facebook Friend RequestWhatever you do, don’t accept my friend request! Now I’m sure you probably paused in your tracks reading that saying, “Why would you send a friend request if you didn’t want me to accept it?” Well the reason is it probably didn’t come from me.

Within the last month I’ve accepted friend requests from several people that I thought were already in my friends list. I assumed that they had deactivated their account for some reason and were restarting it. But what actually happened was someone faked their account. The fake account was complete with their cover photo as well as their profile photo, so it looks legitimate.

Soon after accepting the friend request, I got an instant message chat pop up. Although it seemed a little formal and a little odd because I had never had a Facebook chat with this person in the past, I thought maybe they had a question about something social media related. But the conversation never really went anywhere. Mostly generic “how you doing” type stuff. Since I was in the middle of a project I didn’t take time to engage the chitchat and closed the chat window. The next day my news feed showed a post from the “real” friend saying their account had been stolen. I immediately went in and unfriended the imposter account.

The reason Facebook accounts are being cloned is an attempt to scam the friends of the original account holder. The common sequence is to post a few things to make the page look legitimate, then send out friend requests to everyone on the original account holders friend list. Once those friends accept that request, the imposter can then send out a “plea for help”, banking on our sense of community and charity to help somebody in need.

Facebook has made it easy for imposters since any photos you share publicly on Facebook can be downloaded. You do have the option to make your photos visibile only to friends but when you apply that to your cover photo and your profile photo, someone that might be a potential friend can’t verify it’s really you since they can’t see your picture.

While the fake accounts are not hacks and are not a threat to you, they use your name to take advantage of your friends. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself.

1. Change the visibility of your Friends List to make it visible only to friends. That way, an imposter won’t be able to harvest your friends, rendering their scam plot ineffective. To change the visibility of your friends list, go to Friends and click the pencil (edit), select Edit Privacy from the drop down list. Change your Friend List setting from Public to Friends.

2. Look Before Accepting – Before you accept a friend request from someone you think is already in your friends list, go look. Go to your Friends list and search for them. If you find them in your friends list, DON’T accept the request. Better still, click on their name and go to their profile page. Click the setting button to the right of the Message button. The drop down menu will give you a Report/Block option. Report the page to Facebook.

3. Don’t Fall For The Scam – Think about it, if you were needing help financially, would you publicize it on Facebook? More likely, you would contact your close friends and family directly. With smart phones, we have a full contact list at our fingertips. If you aren’t sure if the new friend request or the plea for help is legit, call, email or message them directly (not through the new page.)

4. Unfriend If You Friend by Mistake – Should you friend one of these imposter accounts, identify it in your friend list and unfriend it immediately. Better to be safe than sorry.

As with many good things, there will always be bad apples, lurking, looking for the opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting, trusting people.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo. The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.


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SEO companies aren't magiciansTo my knowledge, most SEO experts don’t have a degree in quantum physics, aren’t proficient in calculus or even have a degree from Hogwarts school of magic. But clients seem to think a search engine optimization company can work magic. (Though, based on the sales pitch you hear from the SEO telemarketers, they would make you believe they can.)

Everyone today is searching for the easy button – that quick fix that will catapult their site to page one of Google. And there are lots of SEO companies out there promising to do just that, when, in reality, they are just taking your money. The truth is Google is slowly whittling away at the tactics used by most of these companies. Link building, blog commenting, and optimizing anchor text, all common practices, are now being penalized by Google’s latest updates.

That spells bad news for the SEO companies that are looking for the fast buck. For the business owners, it’s both good news and bad. The good news is, the playing field is being leveled so that your competition can’t cheat the system as easily. The bad news – now your site must stand on it’s own merit. If you want to be at the top of Google for “Money Saving Widgets”, you better have the most authoritative site on “Money Saving Widgets.”

easy-buttonThe easy button you’ve been searching for is content. Every time I tell a client that they need to create content, you see a dejected look, a “I was hoping you wouldn’t say that” look. Creating content conjures up unpleasant memories of high school English. “Where am I going to find the time to write content?” “What am I going to say?” “Everyone knows what our business does.” Here are some suggestions to help you start creating content:

1. Create content that educates – A website/blog is the best source for educating your customers/clients. Regardless of the subject, people want to make sure they are making an informed decision and your content can reinforce those decisions.
2. Create content that entertains – We buy based on emotions, then justify it with logic. Content that entertains the reader taps their emotions and forges a bond between your site and the reader.
3. Tell a story – Storytelling is an effective content strategy. Readers can immerse themselves into the story line and identify with the characters. Consider a testimonial type of story that demonstrates how your company solved a problem. Readers will remember you for your problem solving skills rather than your list of services.
4. Forget the sales pitch – If your content is done right, you won’t need to have a sales pitch. A sales pitch immediately shifts the focus from the reader to “me, me, me”. The harsh reality – no one cares about you or your business. They care about whether you can solve their problem, increase their profitability or make their life easier. If your content gets that message across, you will never need a sales pitch.

So as you’re looking for that elusive shortcut to the top of Google, remember, there is no shortcut. The easy button is only in commercials. If you are committed to forging your way to the top of the search engines, you need to be ready to start creating dynamic content and keep creating dynamic content. Like any sporting event, the playing field will be dominated by the person or team that is the most dedicated, consistent and prepared.


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Google AuthorshipThe crowd roars “Author, Author” in overwhelming response to a well written piece and the author humbly takes a bow, receiving the accolades.  Despite the veil of anonymity online today, Google is crying “Author, Author”.

With so much content being generated and shared every single day, it’s hard to keep up with who the originator was.  But Google wants to give credit where credit is due and has created Authorship as a feature especially for bloggers to attach credit to their content.

If you have ever seen a listing in the search results with a small thumbnail picture beside it, that’s a result of Google authorship.  By tying your blog together with your Google + personal profile, you now have the opportunity to receive credit for content you create.  Not only does this help protect your content from pilfering by others, but it also adds social proof of your expertise in a particular subject.

Creating Authorship is a very simple task if you are using WordPress for your blog.  It requires a few simple steps.

  1. Create a Google + profile if you haven’t already done so.  If you have a Gmail account, you already have the basis for your G+ account.
  2. If you are using WordPress, install the Google Authorship plugin on your site.  There are several plugins you may choose.  Two that I have successfully used are WP Google Authorship and Google Plus Authorship.
  3. From your G+ profile page, copy the URL in the address bar, through the long string of numbers (you don’t need the page name following that, just copy everything up to the last number)
  4.  Go back to your dashboard in WordPress, under Users > All Users, select your profile and click edit.  Scroll down the page and you will see the Google + box.  Paste the copied URL here and save the changes.
  5. Lastly, add your blog address to the About section of your G+ profile under the  “Contributor To” section.  This completes the loop and ties the 2 together.

Google is giving increasingly more value to Authorship when it indexes websites.  Sites that demonstrate high quality content will be rewarded for their contribution while stagnate sites could eventually see their rankings sink.  As Google lessens the importance of link popularity in it’s search algorithm, expect authorship to fill the gap.  After all, people want to deal with the leader in the industry.  Google Authorship sets the leaders apart from the lazy.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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Ninja Marketing Tips for Creating Your 2013 Plan

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Ninja Marketing

At the beginning of each year many businesses spend some time thinking about their goals for the coming year. And while setting goals is an important exercise, the implementation steps are equally critical. The goal is the benchmark we establish to measure our success. One major reason that goals or New Year’s resolutions are so quickly forgotten is the lack of steps to reach the goal.

Before creating your marketing blueprint, you first need to understand some basic rules of online marketing.   Below are four rules to consider.

Basic Rules of Internet Marketing

Look Before You Leap – The latest and greatest social media site may not be for you.  Just because everyone is talking about it doesn’t mean it’s for you.  Before taking the plunge, decide how you will use it and how it fits into your plan.  Can you devote the time and attention to another social channel?  What existing channel will you remove?


Attention Overload Doesn’t Apply To Search – We are bombarded with information but when someone is searching for you, they still need to find you.  And once they do, the more information you provide, the better your chances of being considered.  I hear people say, “I just want a 2 or 3 page website because nobody reads more than that.”  But if you are researching an upcoming buying decision, will a couple of pages suffice?  Not likely.  The more information available, the more likely that site will have a greater impact on your decision.

Content is King – The trend that started a few years back has continued to steamroll.  Forget fancy tricks and focus on creating content of value.  Not everyone will read everything you create nor will everyone be looking for the same thing when they visit your site.  Your goal is to have the solution to your visitors problem or dilemma readily available.  In a face to face selling situation, you’re going to point out every advantage doing business with you affords.  Your website/online channels should be as thorough.

 It’s Not The Yellow Pages —  You’re website and online presence is not a “set and forget” program, like a Yellow Page ad.  It should be dynamic content, updated frequently to reflect the changing landscape of your business.  I’m amazed (not really) at the people that study their Google Analytics and wonder why their traffic isn’t better.  Could it be because you aren’t giving your visitors any reason to come back to your site?  Once they’ve seen what you have and realize nothing has changed, it’s on to the site that has fresh, current information.

So before you create that grandiose plan, first visit your website and make sure all that traffic you are planning on driving to your site will actual take the action you want them to take.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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12 Online Ninja Marketing Tools for 12/12/12

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Ninja Marketing

Hope you have plans to celebrate the monumental day, 12-12-12.  Never again in my lifetime (I’m not planning on living to be 147 years old) will we see the same day/month/year.  So let’s celebrate!  I’m celebrating by releasing this blog at 12:12, 12-12-12.

Okay so it’s not that big a deal, compared to the world ending in another 9 days.  But for those of you that aren’t Mayan and plan on being around in 2013, here are 12 must have Ninja Marketing tools  for your online marketing plan.

1.  Website – To say this is a given is an understatement.  Unless your business is the only one in your industry and customers/clients are begging you for your services/products, then you must have a web site.  Even people that encounter your marketing efforts like printed brochures or meet you while networking will go check out your website as due diligence before making a decision whether or not to use your services.  Your website should reflect your business appearance.  If your website looks cheap and unprofessional, your business value will be diminished.

2. Blog – The cornerstone of every online marketing plan should be your blog.  If your website is the anchor, your blog is continuing education for your customers/clients.  When asked, most small business owners would say that customer acquisition is one of their main goals.  They think of that process as selling, advertising or marketing their product or service but the real function is education.  Educating your customers why your business is different from your competition.  Through your blog, you are providing your customers with valuable information that enhances your position as the expert in the industry.

3. Social Media Presence – With the average time spent on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest topping the 400 minute per month range, doesn’t it make sense to be where your customers are.  Do you need to be on every social media site?  Maybe, if your clients are there.  But more importantly, pick the one where the majority are and start building relationships.  Engage, interact and enjoy.

4. Google + – I can hear you now saying, “Didn’t you just say to pick one social media site?  Now your saying use Google +.  What Gives?”  True, I did say pick one and start building relationships.  G+ isn’t it.  But G+ IS about search engine optimization (SEO) and getting more visibility for your blog and website.  If Google owns the lion’s share of search and they have a social media network, doesn’t it stand to reason that they will use popular content from G+ as a ranking factor?

5.  Google + Local – Formerly called Google Places, the map listing in Google is a prominent fixture on page 1 of most local search terms.  If your business isn’t there, you are missing a huge opportunity to be seen.  Traditional SEO methods don’t work on the Google + Local page, but there are some Ninja Marketing tricks to improve your ranking.

6. Email List – Believe it or not, email is not dead.  Despite the tremendous amounts of unsolicited messages, email still is an effective method of communication.  Building an email list provides another avenue to touch your customers.  But the same rules apply with email as with social media, provide more value and less selling.   Ask yourself this question – Would the recipient say “Thanks for the great info” after reading your email?

7. Editorial Calendar – Perhaps the biggest drawback to blogging and social media is time.  The process is time consuming.  And that’s true if you are winging it.  If you sit down to write or post and don’t have a clue what you are going to say, you’ll find you’ve wasted an hour and nothing has happened.  The answer is an editorial calendar.  Plan your content the same way you schedule your monthly activities.  That way you know what you need to say and the process is quick and painless.

8. Google Alerts – Hand in hand with the editorial calendar are the next couple of tools.  Google Alerts is an excellent source of timely material collected from blogs and news sites across the web.  Google Alerts email daily or weekly a list of articles based on a specified keywords.  The alerts can be shared to your social media sites in whole or spin them with your take on why this information is important to your clients/customers

9.  Google Reader – Another tremendous source of material are blogs from thought leaders in your industry.  Google Reader aggregates all your blog subscriptions into one place making it easy to peruse and select only the articles that are pertinent.

10. Nutshell Mail – This emailed report is another aggregator of information, this time from your social media accounts.  Activity such as mentions, likes, updates from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are sent to your inbox.  This makes it easy to monitor without having to go to each site.

11. Hootsuite – One of my favorite tools is Hootsuite.  All my social media accounts are on one screen.  Hootsuite gathers updates from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google + into one screen monitored in real time.  There are apps for Google Chrome and Firefox that make sharing of articles easy across all your social media channels in one step.  And with their scheduling feature, if you read 4 articles today that you want to share, you can space them out over the several days.

12. Feedburner – The ultimate goal of your blog should be capturing subscribers that want to receive your blog every time you post.  With Feedburner, individuals can do just that.  They can subscribe either by RSS feeds or by email.  Feedburner manages the subscriptions and delivers the content automatically.

There you have it.  12 Ninja Marketing Tools to make 2013 a banner year – assuming the Mayans were wrong.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Attention Facebook – I Demand My Privacy

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Ninja Marketing

Over the last couple of days, my Facebook News Feed has been inundated with people posting the declaration that their content on Facebook is copyrighted and violating their privacy is punishable by law.  That ought to scare Facebook!

First of all, this is another self perpetuating post that blindly gets copied and pasted.  The truth is the law cited does not apply to content you post on a public site such as Facebook.  But more importantly, you cannot change an agreement after the fact.  Imagine sending a letter to your mortgage company saying you are giving them notice that you are changing the terms of your mortgage.  When you join Facebook, you agree to the terms and conditions, privacy policy and legal terms.  (Remember that little check box you had to mark when you signed up saying you read them all?)  Yep, you agreed to the it.

The real issue is the desire to protect our privacy online.  We share photos and videos, but then we don’t want people peeping into our virtual windows.  We post  on our Timeline a request asking people to change their setting so our comments and likes don’t appear.  HELLO!  If you don’t want your comments to show, DON”T COMMENT.  After all, Facebook is a SOCIAL network.

It would be interesting to know how many of the people sharing these posts play games on Facebook or use one of the hundreds of apps out there.  When you use these 3rd party apps, you are granting them permission to view all of your personal information and build a marketing profile targeted to you.

It would also be interesting to know how many have a Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL email account.  How many of them are surfing online using Google, Yahoo or Bing?  Have you tried posting an email in Gmail stating that your information is private?  Believe me, Google has a thorough knowledge of your surfing patterns and uses that to personalize your search results and the ads that correspond to that.

But let’s drop a little further down the rabbit hole.  Do you watch movies on Netflix?  How about buy books, movies or music from Amazon?  Don’t think for a minute that they are not building a profile on you.  True, they may say they don’t sell your information to others companies (neither does Facebook) but why would they even want to?  Amazon wants to keep you in the fold and does a good job of dripping on you regularly.

How about your smartphone?  Do you have any apps on there?  Do you “check in” at different locations?  Or search using your phone?  Could Siri be quietly taking notes in the background???  You think all that information that passes through your phone just vanishes into cyberspace?

Let’s go one step further.  If you haven’t already done so, go to www.spokeo.com , put in your name and see what comes up.  Chances are you’re going to be shocked.  Spokeo aggregates information from various sites around the web, including public records, and compiles a profile that includes your street (often times with a view of your neighborhood, if not your house), family members, where you have lived in the past and even a wealth rating and credit rating.  (Some of this information may require a paid membership fee to be visible.)  How’s that for privacy?

When you get to the bottom of today’s connected world, it’s scary to think how little privacy you really have.  So I really don’t care if Facebook has access to content I post publicly.  That is the least of my concerns.  If it really bothers you, there’s a simple answers – close your Facebook account.  But for complete (as complete as possible today) privacy, maybe you should consider a modified version of Abbie Hoffman’s hippie declaration, “Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out.”

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.


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Persistence or Insanity

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Marketing, Ninja Marketing

Persistence vs Insanity - When To ChangeFirst there was the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Then the Little Engine That Could.  The lesson learned is to persist, never quit and keep moving forward if you want to win the race.  We strive for success in our business and professional lives as well as our personal endeavors, and persistence is the key.

Then there’s the other saying – “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  WHOAAAA, wait a minute.  Didn’t we just say persistence wins?  Something doesn’t jive here. If both of these principles hold true, then when does persistence cross the line into insanity?

Whether it’s your marketing efforts or any other business practice,  jumping from idea to idea like a frog on a lily pad, will never yield a successful outcome.  But then the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality doesn’t lend itself to the ever-changing landscape of business today, either. Stay the course or roll with the punches?  Do you feel like a spectator at a tennis match yet?

Maybe we can get a glimpse into the answer to our dilemma from NASCAR?  Before every race, NASCAR drivers take lots of practice laps before the day of the race.  Their pit crew analyzes the results of each lap.  They don’t rebuild the car after each, but rather make adjustments to dial in the perfect combination of settings for the track.

You should treat your business the same way.  Here are 5 things you can do to determine if you should persist or move on.

1.  Make small changes within your marketing plan or adjusting operational procedures, then monitoring the results.  This will give you a barometer of what works and what doesn’t.

2. Allow adequate time for honest results – Depending on the change, results may not be readily available (or accurate).  If it’s a new marketing medium, give it 90 days before analyzing the results.

3. Don’t jump on the trendy bandwagon – Just because the media is a buzz about something, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.  Case in point, social media.  Maybe you’ve heard people talking about Twitter or Facebook.  Before you jump in, first determine if your audience is there.  If they aren’t there, why should you be?

4. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor – Determine, before making any changes, what the desired outcome would be, i.e., increasing sales by x%, growing your audience, number of new inquires, etc.  It’s impossible to analyze your efforts if you can’t measure them.

5. Failure IS an Option – We don’t like to admit we’re wrong, but not every change will work for the good.  And that’s okay.  As Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail 10,000 times to make a light bulb, I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”  Maybe the idea was a good one and can be tweaked enough to make it work.

How do you handle change?  Are you changing with the tide of popular wisdom or are you hanging on to time honored traditions?  Whatever works for you.  And if that’s now enought, here’s one last thought, “You can be on the right track and still get run over if you aren’t moving forward.”

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.


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How dare you leave a negative customer reviewBusiness owners never make mistakes.  Customer service is always stellar and the employees are the best in the whole world.  Yep, and I have some beach front property here in Arizona for sale!

Businesses, for the most part, diligently work to provide the best customer service experience possible. Notice I said “for the most part”. Some days, no matter how good your intentions are, customers may have a less than pleasant experience. Maybe you just got off the phone with a supplier telling you the shipment you were promised for an urgent job today won’t be in for another week. Maybe half your staff called in sick so you’re stuck answering the phones, scheduling appointments, ordering supplies, and keeping the jobs running. So when a customer calls with their “frivolous” complaint, you sound less than sympathetic.

Today’s customers are empowered by the Internet. A satisfied customer will tell a few people about their positive interaction with your business. An unhappy customer, on the other hand, will tell everybody they know, plus they will Facebook it, tweet it, post a video on YouTube and find every reviews site they can to tell the world your business sucks. How you handle that negative review is critical to your reputation, both online and off.

The first step in the process is establishing a company policy for negative reviews. Will you answer them or ignore them? (I always recommend answering them.) Who is responsible for monitoring review sites? Who’s responsible for responding to customer reviews, good or bad?

Here are five steps you can take to help negate the impact of the poor review:

1. Keep an Online Vigil – You have no chance of turning a negative situation into a positive if you don’t know it’s there. If someone posts a bad review on your Facebook page and you don’t see it for a month, it’s too late. Use monitoring tools like Google alerts, Nutshell Mail or Social Mention.

2. Engage Brain Before Opening Mouth – Remember, your customer is emotional. They feel they’ve been wronged or cheated so it’s up to you to soothe those emotions.  The last thing you want is to respond with emotion. That’s a guaranteed grease fire waiting to happen.

3. Just The Facts M’aam – Read their review carefully, looking for the facts hidden behind the emotions. Who did they deal with? What are the specifics of their complaint? Talk to your employee that dealt with the customer. Remember, they will be responding with emotion as well so don’t make it an inquisition.  Step outside your owner/manager body and try to see the situation from the customers perspective.

4. Carefully Craft Your Response – Be apologetic and sincere in your answer. Defending your company’s actions will only fuel their arguments. Have someone else read over your response to make sure the tone is what it should be.  Does it sound condescending or sincere?  Does it sound like you’re calling them an idiot?

If possible, offer them a discount or some other concessions. Offer to discuss their issues off line and give them phone number where they can reach you (or someone in authority) easily. The last thing you want is for them to call and they get put on hold, get shuffled around the office or leave a message and don’t get a prompt callback.

5. Overshadow The Negatives – Negative reviews are inevitable.  And negative reviews don’t hurt if you have enough positive reviews to offset it. In fact a negative review when mixed in with several positive reviews shows that your reviews are genuine.  Be proactive and encourage your good customers to write reviews in places like Google + Local, Facebook, Yelp and some of the other local customer review sites.  Then when a prospective customer looks at the reviews, they will see that one negative among the dozens of positive reviews as a flake,   “You know you can’t please everyone”.

Ultimately, there’s going to be that one customer that you just can’t satisfy (or shut up). Remember though, this conversation is not taking place behind closed doors. There are hundreds, potentially thousands, of prospective customers watching. And those are the ones you’re after. When they see you trying your best to correct a bad experience, they feel reassured that, if they do business with you, you will bring the same level of customer satisfaction to them.

How do you handle those irate customer reviews?

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.


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New Facebook Plugin for WordPress

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon   in Ninja Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Facebook has created a new plugin that works directly with WordPress sites, either WordPress.com sites or self-hosted sites.  When you create a new post, the plugin will allow you to mention a page, which will add the post to the timeline of the page you mention.  It also allows you to mention friends in a post and have it show up on their wall as well.  Since the post are created via a Facebook App, it comes from within Facebook and your post gets the Edgerank benefit.

The link to the plugin is https://developers.facebook.com/wordpress/.

More details will come shortly.  I will do a video shortly with the details.


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