How to Build Five Star Online Reviews to Fuel Your Business and Career

freelance, Marketing Metrics, marketing muscle, Marketing Strategy, Online Reviews, reputation management, Reviews, testimonials, Uncatergorized, word of mouth campaigns

Zero-cost word-of-mouth marketing is the gold standard of brand ambassadorship and the one thing that will surely build your business, customer base, and client book.


The best way to build online reviews for your business is by designing a superb product or service that delights your customers and clients while delivering an exceptional experience from beginning to completion of a purchase.  Restaurants know this via Yelp and Open Table. Businesses are starting to pay attention to Glass Door.  However, consultants, freelancers, and hired guns also need reviews.



It doesn’t matter what you do or what you offer.  If you’re a nutritionist or personal trainer, or maybe a fashion apparel designer or corporate wellness director. Perhaps you’re a physician, attorney, life coach or yet another creative director, you want to work for five-star ratings.


As I transitioned from marketing and PR agency owner to online business consultant and strategist, I knew that one of the fastest ways to bring in new business was to focus on my current clients’ absolute happiness.


I knew that when they shared their happiness with other people who didn’t know me, I was creating a built-in lead generator for future clients while minimizing my cost per client acquisition spend. What does that mean? Well, this has been going on since the dawn of time, but so many free agents don’t remember to make recommendations and referrals a priority.  You see, my reviews on LinkedIn, Upwork, Angel list, Clarity, Thumbtack and my website help convince and convert those that are on the fence about working with me. They help to get the client to sign the agreement and start the project.


Whether you own a healthy fast food cafe, or you’re a veterinarian looking to build your thought leadership position, great reviews will let everyone know what to expect from you.


So how do you get reviewed? Well if you are pivoting your career like I did or you’re just starting out, you want to create profiles on above-mentioned platforms, like Linkedin. Then you want to find clients and you can do that on platforms like Upwork. Then you want to deliver the goods in an impressive way.  Some platforms will prompt a client to give you a review. Others, like LinkedIn, require you to request a recommendation.  How?Recommendtations

Thumbtack 1




I continue to work diligently for great reviews and recommend you do too. Need help creating your online presence? Let’s connect about what you’re up to  @madelinemariejohnson on Instagram.

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Best Practices for Brand Publishing Part 1

Brand Awareness, brand publishing, branded content, editorial know how, reputation management, the future of branding

brand-journalism-typewriterYes you can write, film, photograph and post on your blog or you can do something even more exciting and valuable- like start a movement, a community, a tribe that will take on a life of its own while creating a place with a reason for fans to come back – think American Express Open Forum.

Even more beneficial for you and for your brand, this new community hangout will turn into a lab for market research, trouble shooter for complaints and a discover place for service/product problems as well as a potential loyalty builder.

shutterstock_110730098While your brand’s content – blog, video, photographs will be created to acquire potential new customers, it is not a direct convertor of customers or sales leads. Your brand’s blog should be created to build familiarity about your products and trust with your customers. The content you create must be exceptional, inspirational, unique and credible.

The criteria for your content . . .

  1. . . .to be of service to those customers and clients you work with or want to work with in the future.
  2. . . .should help to create customer and client confidence in your services and products.
  3. . . .will connect with those who need/want what you’ve got.
  4. . . . consistently respond to the most frequent questions that customers/clients are asking.
  5. . . .will encourage customers and clients to share their thoughts and questions.

Distributing your brand’s content

Not as specific as a Facebook campaign when it comes to demographics and geographics, services like Outbrain will help to drive organic traffic, supply analytics and help target geographically.

Competitors like Taboola  started out by considering how people consume content and the patterns they follow as they search the web for things they didn’t even know they were looking for in the first place. Taboola will help build your brand blog audience by recommending your content on websites like Time, USA Today, TMZ and Cracked.

Native advertising is the placement of branded content in the content feed of a publication. The placement is matched to the layout of the site but clearly labeled as an advertiser-promoted article. Examples of native ads are Promoted Tweets on Twitter and Sponsored Stories on Facebook.

The trick is to have your shared content be contextually relevant. Delivering information at the exact time that is relevant to what a customer is currently reading and or watching. A leader in native advertising, Nativo  claims they’ve nailed contextual relevance.           


Authentically Yours

brand management, brand reputation, building brand trust, Key Messaging and Talking Points, Marketing in the Moment, reputation management

Your brand can’t be everything to everyone at every moment and jumping on a used and abused trend like “artisanal” will only make you look very “me too” and that’s not very authentic.

Artisan – a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand and using traditional methods.

Want examples of whats not “artisan”? “If your food is something a five-year old can make, it is not artisan.”  More here at

Consider how sincere your story and messaging is in order to become worthy of belief and trust.

Unveiling Unexpected Treasures

Marketing in the Moment, marketing muscle, marketing rituals, neuroscience marketing, reputation management, social media marketing, Storytelling, Uncatergorized

In a world growing increasing banal and familiar, what seems enigmatic draws attention. When it comes to building campaign buzz, never make it too clear what you are doing or what you are about to do. Try not to tire or exhaust the public with the same tactic.



Invite constant interpretation.

Excite the imagination.

Seduce them into believing in the marvelous.

An air of mystery about your company heightens your presence and creates anticipation.

Watch this video here, as Coca Cola encourages you to look at the world a little differently with their hidden camera campaign.

Look, Listen and Learn -The Truth About Brand Engagement

brand management, brand reputation, building brand trust, customer loyalty, reputation management, Uncatergorized

Online brand engagement is a two-way conversation and sometimes requires you to take  a sharper look at your product offerings.

We had dinner last night with the CMO, CEO and Founder of a very popular niche  community-based website of 2.5 million strong, ( who also happens to be a client – lucky us ). They created this huge following that began over 14 years ago. The purpose was to inform, empower and unite a community of people brought together by a common interest.

So naturally, we asked, how do you attract and keep brand advertisers pleased when you have a very large, passionate and opinionated community that holds no prisoners? What do you do when your paying advertisers complain about negative reviews of their products on your website?

Listen, learn and read in-between the lines.
The smart companies that advertise on their site put their egos aside, make lemonade out of the sour remarks they see and hear and let the community help  them develop better selling products.
With over 50 advertisers in a place where peer-to-peer-reviews are more honored and trusted than any editorial mention, these brands have no other option but to make those negative reviews work for them. Its like having a daily ongoing focus group at your finger tips.

What to do with negative reviews?

Is the community calling your product “sticky”? Then maybe its time to look at the consistency of your formulations.

They say it takes too long to work? Maybe its time to go back to the drawing board.

The 20 price tag too steep? You might consider selling your product in smaller sizes for less money.

Buy Good, Feel Great Marketing

brand reputation, cause related campaigns, customer loyalty, Guiding Principles for Success, reputation management, Uncatergorized

Creating shared value is a partnership between corporations and consumers. Mindful marketing + mindful shopping habits might just mean a better tomorrow.  From the smallest of start-ups to the largest of corporate charity efforts and in the name of responsible consumption and making purchases that empower peace of mind. A few efforts inspiring us today.

Warby Parker Glasses offers an alternative to overpriced and less fashionable eyewear. Through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program; they hope to serve the one billion people on earth who do not have access to glasses. According to Warby Parker a pair of glasses can often define one’s path either as a contributing member of the community or one subject to poverty.

Beach bags from Mombassa Drive. Their goal is to bring you products that support the people and environment of Africa.

Blissmo is a new flash-sale site where LOHAS-minded (Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability) shoppers can discover organic & eco-friendly products, They recently launched blissmobox, a monthly subscription service delivering curated boxes of well-loved organic & eco-friendly products by mail.

Pepsi is funding amazing ideas that refresh the world. Their campaign encourages communities to dream it, submit it, get enough votes 
and Pepsi promises to help make it happen.

Tom’s Shoes matches every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need.  Why? Because many children in developing countries grow up barefoot.

Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry is a national event that brings together thousands of restaurants and millions of consumers to help ensure no child in America grows up hungry. From September 18-24, 2011, participating restaurants will raise funds to support No Kid Hungry, Share Our Strength’s national campaign to end childhood hunger in America. In 2010, over 4,000 restaurants joined their sponsors and partners to raise more than $1.5 million.

Virgin Money Giving, the not-for-profit fundraising website (, announced a partnership with Virgin Atlantic and charity travel specialists Key Travel to offer special discount fares to fundraisers taking part in fundraising challenges overseas.

How to Deliver Real Time Customer Satisfaction

customer loyalty, Engaging Customer Service, reputation management, retail marketing, social shopping experience, Uncatergorized, word of mouth campaigns, workforce training

Now that consumers are sharing their experiences online, each and every interaction becomes critical to listening, anticipating their needs, and resolving any issues quickly. It use to be that the old-school customer survey was the answer to finding out how and where your business could use improvement. No one has the time to put pen in hand (or stylus to tablet), let alone read the questions some market research team put together.

Which is why we are so impressed with One-2-Ten. Applying the universally recognized “1-10” scale in combination with the corresponding color code; it enables customers to rate an experience in real-time, which is displayed for others to see.

  • Want to know if your guests enjoyed the complimentary continental breakfast?
  • Feel relaxed and refreshed after that Swedish massage?
  • Successfully booked their holiday reservation?

One-2-Ten allows you to configure questions on the spot and change them throughout the day. They have created real time rating systems that are available on location as well as online. This is an awesome way to up the level of customer service in a retail environment instantaneously .

You have to watch the video testimonial from CitizenM Hotels (pictured in this post) to see how easy One-2-Ten has made it for people to share their experiences. Oh, and as you will see, it’s also a great employee motivator.

For those business owners and marketing managers who are brave enough to hear the truth from their customers, One-2-Ten will help you build a better customer experience.

Branding an Overnight Sensation

brand reputation, building brand trust, reputation management, Uncatergorized

We were at the Soho House Fashion Salon last night in New York, sitting in on a 90-minute presentation entitled Brand Creation for the next Generation and the presenters – who normally speak at Harvard, MIT and NYU Stern School of Business were going on about how well-respected luxury brands have heritage. Heritage that took decades to build and to “brand”.

Brands like Hermes which started as a bespoke house for royalty over 100 years ago, has had quite some time to create a consistent collection of quality fashion products and brand trust with their customers.  Burberry, the iconic British luxury brand established in 1856, was another design house sited for doing one thing and doing it very well, and built a loyal following with some major ups and downs along the way, continually reinventing their name while staying true to their DNA.

Brands that have established strong international customer relationships also have a much easier time moving without interruption into the online space. That’s because customers have been trying and buying their apparel and accessories for years. Their aspiring promise is delivered to their customers in the real world first.

Now the question came up – can a new emerging company or fresh new fashion design talent out of FIT or Parsons build a brand in less time? And even more challenging, can they do it online, without launching in stores beforehand?  And the answer is – probably not.

Branding takes years of respect and it always starts with a consistently great fashion “product”.  It takes years to build the cult -like following that makes a brand a household name.

Now they’re exceptions to the rule. Celebrity status is one of the exceptions. Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson have done surprisingly well with their  collections that didn’t take decades to build, but they had the status and following built into the brand and the resources to risk.

The other exception is building a brand with a super strategic branding plan, like the one behind the brand of Michael Kors. Which also took some deep pocket investors to make it all happen.

In 1981, Kors launched his Michael Kors women’s wear line at department stores Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. From there, Kors went to work at French fashion house Celine as designer and creative director.

Today, Kors has three collections and collectively, they include everything from handbags and accessories to shoes and ready-to-wear sportswear. On top of designing, Kors contributed to Harper’s Bazaar magazine and has been a celebrity judge on the hit TV show Project Runway.

For those on the brink of launching a new design label online and dreaming of becoming an overnight sensation,  experts recommend launching in retail stores at first and having patience while creating great fashion collections, season after season. Look to partner with stores that will help you share your brand story and philosophy. A Facebook and Twitter following is not going to cut it. Fashion is a product first. And a very personal product at that. Customers need to slip it on, feel the fabric of your brand’s DNA and wear it well and believe in the magic of your product before you can launch online.

Meet the Social Monitoring Experts @Mashwork

reputation management, social monitoring experts

Our company has set up camp at a place called we work (midtown) which provides a collaborative and creative environment where innovative businesses and entrepreneurs can flourish. We also have a pool table, roof top hang out, sound studio and meditation room. It’s also a great place to meet really cool new start-ups and energized people.

A few weeks ago, we were introduced to Mashwork.

Mashwork is bridging the gap between data mining and marketing and helping companies like Ralph Lauren listen to what their customers are saying about their brand. The Mashwork team measures engagement, impact, passion and reach so you can get a better sense of what is being said and felt about your company.

Founded by Jared A. Feldman, Mashwork helps marketing companies and teams map out and navigate the emerging social media landscape.

The company has trade marked Mashwork Listening™ – a new way for brands to receive easy-to-digest customized reports of consumer conversations from places like Facebook, blogs, Twitter, forums, news sources, YouTube and Flickr.

Check out their list of services, which includes an influencer and summary profile analysis, and for control freaks like us, who are very protective of clients’ brand image and reputation, an Early Warning tool with a bi-weekly breakdown of trending items and possible areas of concern.

You can also keep up with the pros at Mashwork here.