By Henry DeVries, CEO, Indie Books Intl.
Amazon.com reviews are in the news. Are you missing out on the power of Amazon book reviews as a client-attracting strategy? The time has come to get real about Amazon book reviews. From a marketing strategy, you should be concerned with giving and getting reviews. This is a client-generating strategy that works especially well for consultants and business leaders who have written a book.
First things first, let’s recap the controversy. The Amazon reviews that are making news are fake reviews.
Amazon has gone to court to unmask fake reviewers who are tarnishing the site’s credibility. In April of 2015 it went after website operators who advertised fake reviews for sale with such less-than-subtle URLs as buyamazonreviews.com. “D’oh,” as Homer Simpson might put it. Or if you prefer as a literary allusion to the arch nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, these websites were hardly the Napoleons of cyber crime.
Here is what is at stake. “In an undercover investigation,” reports the November 2, 2015 issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “the Times of London was able to push an e-book to the top of an Amazon best-seller list by paying for reviews.” Reviews work, but only if they are trusted.
Amazon sees anonymity of reviews as a threat to e-commerce. That is why Amazon continues its campaign against fake reviewers. What better course than to sue the dastards?
This is why Amazon is going after individual reviewers, asking courts to award costs and damages. More than 1,000-plus John Does, the term used for an unidentified person, are being sued for manipulation and deception of customers.
Amazon has judged the fake reviews as a threat to the trust upon e-commerce depends. While Amazon will never weed out all the fake reviews, I applaud them for taking the matter seriously.
Here are two ways Amazon reviews can be the real deal for attracting clients:
Amazon Review Strategy #1: Review Competitive Books. If you are an author, you should review other books in your space. Read these books and give them an honest, real review. Praise their good points. Point out areas the author could have addressed. Most important, don’t be anonymous. In truth, just the opposite. Sign the review with your full name and mention you are the author of a book. Personally I follow Thumper’s rule from Bambi: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
When I review a marketing book, I will mention that I am the author of Marketing With a Book. When I review a career book, I will mention I am the coauthor of Closing America’s Job Gap. When I review a sales book, I will mention I am the coauthor of How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett.
Amazon will not allow you to include a website address in your review, but it will let you mention your book. Why? Methinks it is because it helps Amazon sell multiple titles to a book buyer.
When I was writing my book on Warren Buffett, I did not just buy one or two books on the subject. I bought more than a dozen books on the Oracle of Omaha. Ever notice how Amazon is not shy about suggesting other books you might like to buy. That’s just good salesmanship.
Amazon Review Strategy #2: Get Real People to Review Your Book. If you are an author, you should not wait for positive reviews to arrive one day under your book’s description at Amazon.com. You need to prime the pump. Start by handing out the book to friends, clients and colleagues and request they post a review on Amazon.
This is important for two reasons.
First, a book that has no reviews looks bad. In my view, the worst emotion is not hate; it is apathy. No reviews is a signal nobody cares about your book. When my Buffett book came out, coauthor Tom Searcy and I worked hard to get the book in many hands so reviews would appear.
Second, it helps to get positive reviews on Amazon before the inevitable troll reviewers weigh in. No need to explain the lack of Internet civility in this column. Just rest assured there are people who love to give reviews of 1 out of 5 and challenge the sanity of anyone who gave the book a positive rating.
Here is a bonus tip: Do not respond to the trolls. It only encourages them.