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Calgary Small Business: To Yelp, or Not to Yelp | reMARCable by Marc Binkley
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I met recently with Wendy Peters who is now the official Community Manager for Yelp Calgary.    Wendy was kind enough to share some insights with me about what Yelp is, where it’s going, why users like it and what business owners can do with it.

Taken from their own site Yelp answers …. What is Yelp?

“Yelp allows consumers to share the experiences they’ve had with local businesses and lets business owners share information about their business with their customers. Simply put, it’s word of mouth– amplified.”

Where is Yelp going?

  • Yelp was launched in San Fransisco which has provided the business model for all other expanding markets.
  • Wendy was hired as Calgary’s first Community Manager.  This person is a key component to the growth of Yelp in any local market.
  • There are Community Managers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax
  • Yelp is expanding to European Markets such as France, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Austria

Why is Yelp important for Small Business?

  • Yelp has become the fastest growing local source of information about businesses
  • gaining mainstream Pop Culture awareness in Jeopardy, Big Bang Theory
  • Can offer consumers deals based on their proximity to your business and/or standing offers to all Yelp users
  • Businesses can unlock access to their listing and post photos, comments, checkin offers, view traffic stats on their business listing, add videos and offer tips about their business
  • Yelp is not a resource suck for businesses, you don’t have to be on it all the time
  • It’s a great way to amplify messages about your great service and identify problems in your business
  • Reviews can be fed to your own website
  • there is a built-in spam filter to limit unnatural or spam reviews
  • it’s a great recommendation tool.
  • Learn how to set up your own business account here
  • every other second, someone makes a call to a Yelp business from a mobile phone

Why would consumers like using it?

  • Real people can give their own real review on a product or service
  • easy to find and contact businesses
  • The more reviews about a store, product or service, the more trustworthy the product is and therefore the more likely consumers will be to buy it.
  • Takes the guesswork out of finding good businesses to deal with
  • Can get deals / offers from businesses via Check-ins or based on location
  • allows the user to share reviews with their own network
  • portablility.  anywhere their phones are, Yelp is.  1/3 of all searches on Yelp are from a mobile phone

Competition against Yelp?

  • Urban Spoon – strictly a review site for restaurants
  • Foursquare – is more of a check-in game to unlock badges vs. your firends and doesn’t offer reviews
  • there is competition, but none of these sites really do all the same things as each other.

Other cool stuff about Yelp in Calgary

  • Calgary has Yelp Elite Parties.  This is a group of about 50 or so Calgary Yelpers who are influencers and trend setters.   Once per month, they meet at a place to sample menu items and then review the restaurant, write about their experience and thus create word of mouth buzz in their networks
  • Weekly Yelp – a guide to what’s happening each week.  available for local businesses to sponsor this in exchange of services.
  • 7100 subscribers to the  Yelp Calgary eNewsletter
  • 15 or so reviews every day

My own comments

  • according to one survey by eMarketer, 70% of business owners aren’t  aware that Yelp exists.  Of the businesses who are aware, 2 out of 3 find Yelp useful.
  • I’m a big believer in people.  Now that Yelp has placed Wendy as a Community Manager I think their adoption rates will start increasing in Calgary as it has in other markets where they’ve done this.   To the best of my knowledge, no other review sites have people in the streets which means they are at a competitive disadvantage.   ie. I’m not writing about or recommending them am I?
  • Yelp offers a free tool for local businesses to interact with their customers on a very personal direct manner
  • Bad reviews are good and their uncommon.  Don’t be afraid of them.  You can’t please everyone, but at least you know what people have to say about you.  If the bad review is legit, you’ve got the ability to make it right with that customer and try to win them back.   These are groundbreaking times.
  • Good reviews are common.  Most business do good work.  Let yourself get good reviews.   It builds your credibility and trust in your brand.

Parting Words

Remember that 70% of business owners don’t know this tool exists.  Judging by the adoption curve Yelp will continue it’s exponential growth curve.  It’s free which means there is no cost to try it.

At over 15 million total reviews so far, even the smallest sector by percent of reviews (automotive 3%)  still has over 450,000 total reviews.

Isn’t it worth being a part of it and beating your cometition to the punch?


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