That’s what I think every time I hear "yelp." Or that I stood on the dog’s toe. But, of course, some of us know that Yelp.com is the cool new kid on the Internet block. I made sure I got the salon a review up, even though the guidelines for reviews says you should refrain from reviewing yourself … whatever!
In case you aren’t as with it as me, Yelp is a little website where you go write reviews for businesses. You can write a review for anyone and you can pretty much write anything. Which is cool because it means that when someone looks up that business, they get a genuine idea of what real people think of that business. Of course, there’s a chance that that isn’t cool for the business if it hasn’t made a good impression — but that’s why you’re supposed to be making a good impression. Yelp also gets good search engine results, which what I’m really all about. Especially since Google refuses to link directly to my website. I have no idea why, but Google hates me. It links to this blog, it links to my blogger.com blog, it links to Myspace and Facebook and probably Twitter — and Yelp — not to mention a bunch of magazine articles and networking forum posts in which my name appears, but never my actual website. (shrug) I don’t pay anyone to do my website, so I also don’t pay for anyone to tell me what I can do to make Google like me. Maybe Google is like a boy, and it’s just never going to like me if it doesn’t like me. Maybe I don’t want to make myself into something I’m not just so Google will ask me to the prom. Phooey on Google. He’s stupid anyway. I’m going out with Yahoo.
OK. Sorry. Got a little off course there. My point was, I am all about making sure that people find ME when they type "nail salons, Visalia" into whatever search engine they use. So as soon as I found out about Yelp, I was on it.
Now the problem is that even though I hear reports around the salon that the stylists have been getting new business from our fabulous Yelp review, I can’t get anyone to go add more reviews! Turns out, my clients have not quite caught up to the new hotness online yet. They don’t know what I’m talking about. They’ve barely heard of Twitter and they keep referring to my Myspace page as my "website."
People are fickle.
Big picture today is that there are a lot of advertising opportunities available to the small businessperson that reach a large audience and cost nothing. No. My Myspace page doesn’t keep the phone ringing off the hook 24/7. But it does bring me in a few new clients every month. Especially among the younger crowd, having that Myspace page is often the tipping point between someone coming to me versus going elsewhere. And Myspace is free. So the return on my investment has been pretty good. As has Craigslist. Also free. Even if only one client comes in because of an ad, that’s a heck of a return on investment.
And, of course, Yelp — especially if I can get more people to leave reviews.
I am surrounded in my industry with people with too much downtime for their comfort, wandering around lost, complaining about The Economy and This Time of Year and how things better pick back up, but they aren’t utilizing the tools available to do anything about it. I’m not saying a Craigslist ad or a Yelp review is going to save a sinking business, or that it’s going to be a magic spell that has clients lined up at your doorstep, but it’s something. It’s something that you can do, something that might help, and mostly, something that makes you feel more in control of your destiny, which goes a long way to changing your attitude and making you feel like there’s hope.