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Cheating The System: A Word of Caution

“You can wipe out your opponents. But if you do it unjustly you become eligible for being wiped out yourself.”
―Ernest Hemingway

No truer words were ever spoken. Yelp, for example, will post a little notice on your profile page if you're ever caught gaming their system by paying for reviews. Such a notice can wipe you out.

My best advice is that you don't risk cheating the system by paying for good reviews. Taking matters into your own hands by paying for reviews seems like an easy solution. But the downside of such action is that it is a breech of your integrity as a business person while exposing yourself to an even greater danger: public shaming on a consumer review profile.

Are there ways to cheat the system? Absolutely. Do I know how to do it? Yes I do. But my obligation to you and the success of your business will not permit me to do such things. Plus, you don't need to cheat -- I know this is true from first hand experience. It takes just as long to cheat as it does to handle this common problem the right way.

Even if you're now suffering upwards of 14 1-star reviews on your Yelp profile, and have all your good reviews hidden from public view, purchasing Yelp reviews is not a viable, long-term solution. At best, the strategy will go undetected for a period of time yet will revert once the paid reviewer is found to be a shill. At worst, you entrust the future of your business to someone with poor scruples -- and poor scruples are a dangerous thing.

I have met clients who have lost thousands dealing with people who claim to perform Yelp review miracles fast. Often, these individuals take their money and disappear after a few failed attempts to post good reviews on their behalf. While some business sectors are able to get away with the practice of purchasing reviews, such as those in the publishing industry, as a rule, that type of cheating just isn't going to work for the average small business in America.

Is it tempting to cheat? For most, yes it is. Some of these consumer review websites tempt even the greatest business people among us into wanting to cheat. If this is where you're at, just know you're not alone. Sometimes, when I hear distraught wives in tears over the demise of the business reputation that supports her family, I too slip into a wish that cheating was an option -- but it's not a good one so I push the thought away.

I use the angst I feel for small business owners to research and develop effective strategies to help you take control over your online reputation the right way. The fact of the matter is that all you need to overcome the injustice of a damaged online reputation is to be pro-active and strategic for a few months -- that's it.

I am a firm believer that good people should not have to suffer at the hands of hostile customers or competitors. I also believe you have every right to make key decisions and do what it takes to defend yourself from this new business force. No consumer review website, perhaps in business for less time than you, has the right to say otherwise.

Stay empowered and know that it is possible to capture the truth about the quality of your business without having to risk compromising in the ethics department.

Contact me to learn more about how I can help you.

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