True, good reviews are a very powerful marketing tool, and the new web makes them more accessible to entrepreneurs everywhere. Try any of the major search engines or any of the major mapping tools, search for a business–and watch the stars pop up. It’s cool, a great advantage to the user, customer and prospective customer, and potentially a nice marketing tool for all. But there are problems in that world, too. It’s not all fun and games.

For a good review of how to deal with reviews, I suggest three good posts on the subject by John Jantsch on his Duct Tape Marketing blog, in this order:

  1. First, from last February: “5 Ways to Rock Customer Review Sites”
  2. A follow-up post, from just a couple of weeks ago: “5 Ways to Get Rockin Reviews”
  3. And this one, about dealing with bad reviews: “Your Pizza Sucks And …”

A good reminder about what not to do came up recently with news of a PR firm getting caught seeding Apple’s iTunes store with fake reviews. John has some good advice for you on how to influence reviews without crossing ethical lines. And I want to add that trying to fake things is very dangerous in the long run. Not just ethically dangerous, but business dangerous, too. If you do a good analysis of the risks and rewards, what you lose in reputation when you get caught faking reviews is much worse than what you gain by doing it.

It’s a new world. If you’re marketing to consumers, don’t ignore review sites and reviews. Do it right.

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Tim BerryTim Berry
Tim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.