Nothing can be more impactful in creating a brand and generating sales than a product review program. Published reviews by magazines, news sites, technology publications and blogs alike bring credibility to the product. Reviews are serious business and a negative review can be devastating – don't jump the gun just to land a review only to have to do damage control later. So what do you need? Every successful review program (no matter how good the spin is) starts with a rock solid product that performs as billed. The role of the review program is to provide a forum to let the product speak for itself.
Here’s how it works:
- Matchmaker: Do your homework and define the field of possibilities for your product. Be a tough matchmaker, and select only those media outlets that are a good match. Do they write for the audience that cares about your product? How do they treat product reviews in terms of tone? Are they looking to point out the best in the product or do they seem to be critical and bring a bias to a story?
- Positioning: Know how the product is positioned and how it compares with its competitors. For instance, if your product is positioned as the affordable, simple solution, you don't want to be pitted against products that are designed for sophisticated users who are seeking layers of complex and powerful features. Remember, reviews are comparative in nature and whether your product will be in a stand-alone review or part of a round-up, the reviewer will be comparing your product to others.
- Easy Does It: Make your product easy to review. Just as you have press materials to support news announcements and events, your review program needs the same type of support. The centerpiece is a Reviewer's Guide - a comprehensive document that spells out all of the key differentiators of the product, highlights the features that set it apart, and clearly explains how users benefit. Take the guess work out and make the reviewer's life a little easier!
- Appearance: Looks do count. From the enclosure letter, supporting materials and the Quick Start Guide to the box, inner packaging and the actual product, the appearance says volumes about the product brand. If your product is targeted to consumers, it needs to convey the consumer experience to the reviewer – after all, he or she is writing for the readers. If the product is targeted to IT managers, then a no-nonsense, professional look is the ticket. Regardless of how well your product performs, the first impression of the reviewer is set by how the product is packaged.
- Management: Careful management of your review program is a must. You can't just place a review, cross your fingers and hope for positive results. Consistent check-ins with the reviewer will help to curtail issues that could lead to a negative review. Of course, this process must be tailored to the reviewer and according to his/her preferences – you don't want to be a pest, but you don't want to be a silent bystander either.
One of the most impactful qualities of a product review program is building trusted relationships with reviewers by sending products that work as expected. It’s a bonus when your product exceeds their expectations. As you expand your product portfolio, those relationships will mean even more as you’ll have a readymade relationship to get the word out.