Websites harness word of mouth
THE power of word of mouth is well documented and there's been an increase in the array of websites harnessing this savvy marketing tool online.
The winning formula of reviews is a focus point for successful travel website TripAdvisor, with globetrotters making the website their first stop to ensure a holiday with no surprises.
Now TrueLocal, a subsidiary of conglomerate News Digital Media, is on its way to becoming the first stop for locals wanting to check services before they spend their hard earned cash.
TrueLocal advises traffic to a business page increases up to 60% when a business claims and updates their online listing.
A quick look at Gladstone local businesses reveals many have no reviews and businesses are not taking advantage of the free exposure available by putting up detailed information on their services.
General manager of TrueLocal Simon Carson said businesses should stake their claim to increase their customer base.
"Many small businesses struggle when it comes to growing and marketing themselves cost effectively. As we've all heard before, a large percentage of small businesses fail within their first five years of operation.
"It is our goal to help local businesses connect with their customers."
One Gladstone local, 60-year-old Robin Haworth, has taken full advantage of the online world despite confessing to not being "computer-savvy".
Her business, Rodar Cleaning Service, is listed on the TrueLocal website as well as other online listings, plus she's in the process of creating a Facebook page.
Ms Haworth has uploaded a comprehensive list of her services to her TrueLocal business listing, which she said is important for her customers.
"I think that people like to know what you do basically, without having to spend time asking if you do this and that," she said.
"Usually I get an email from the person, letting me know what they want done, and then I send them a quote."
Her cleaning business will be three years old in 2012 and Ms Haworth said most of her customers got in contact after discovering her online.
"I get more of a wider audience. I started getting enquiries from people that live out of the area but have a house or a rental up here. They're able to get online and check out the businesses in the area, and get an idea of what's available and then they contact me."
Her single review on TrueLocal is positive, a happy customer signing up for the purpose of reviewing her business, something Ms Haworth wishes people would do more.
She said in the event of a negative review, she would contact the person and try to solve the issue.
Mr Carson said that if a listing has more than ten reviews, it receives 19 times more traffic than a basic listing.
"There are tangible benefits of claiming your listing on TrueLocal. Consumers really respond to seeing fresh content from both the business and other customers."