Tell Your Customers that Your Product Sucks

I learn a lot about online business strategies from my mom. No, my mom isn’t some rock star marketer. Rather, the opposite is true. She knows absolutely nothing about the motivations behind the websites that she visits. So, when my mom made this comment about product reviews, I took notice:

“I can always tell when a review is fake because it doesn’t say anything bad.”

First, I should point out that there are several types of reviews. There are the reviews which supposed customers put up on websites, like the travel reviews at Trip Advisor. Then there are the supposedly unbiased product reviews which get into more detail. Customers tend to trust the detailed product reviews more, especially if you are giving legitimate information about the product in a positive light. Take this line from a toaster review as an example: “At 1500 watts, this toaster heats up quickly so you don’t have to wait for breakfast.” Since there are details involved, customers are more likely to believe the toaster works faster – even if they don’t know what 1500 watts means about a toaster.

Even with the detailed product reviews, consumers still get suspicious if you are too positive about everything. Just by throwing in a few negatives into the review, you can boost your trustworthiness. As an added bonus, the positive aspects of your review will seem that much better next to the mild negatives.

Make Your Negatives a Positive

Consumers are looking for honest opinions when they read product reviews. However, that doesn’t mean you should go on in length about the many negative aspects of what you have to offer. Always try to spin the negatives into a positive light. For example, instead of just saying that the low wattage of the toaster means it takes longer to cook things, also add that it is this quality makes it “energy efficient.”

Be Honest and Customers Will Forgive Your Flaws

But what about the other types of reviews – the ones left by customers on review websites? You could try to fake the reviews in order to boost your reputation. However, I wouldn’t recommend this. While consumers may not be able to detect that your carefully-written reviews are fake, the search engine bots may. Researchers have developed powerful new algorithms which detect fake reviews by certain qualities, like lack of specific details. You can read more about why you shouldn’t fake reviews here.

Here is an interesting thing I have observed about being honest with customers: they are less likely to complain if they know about the bad things up front. So, if you tell people in your hotel review that the pool is small (but of course spinning it into a positive by adding a line like “but still great if you just like to submerge yourself in the refreshing water”), then they aren’t as likely to criticize you for the small pool later. Thus, you can generate more genuinely positive customer reviews instead of trying to fake them yourself.