Who needs all that negativity?

It turns out you do.  At least if you are trying to gain traction and trust in the online world.

It may seem purely intuitive that bad press or reviews are not good for sales, but this short article from Fortune magazine says otherwise.  This article is geared toward online sales, but the idea can be expanded to include any online presence.

The idea is that a negative comment helps build trust in your site, making it less likely that a potential customer will look for information about your product elsewhere.

“If they leave your site to look for reviews, they most likely won’t come back,” says Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results, which provides customer satisfaction surveys for Web sites

The other item you’ll notice is that negative feedback can help you address problems that your end users may be having.  Rather than deleting the negative comment, make a follow up post that helps correct the problem.  This shows you care and are listening.  Beware, however, of ever coming across as defensive; it can be hard to listen to people criticize your hard work, but in the end knowing exactly what people think about your work or product is important to your future planning.

Sample Comment Page From Zappos.com

Sample Comment Page From Zappos.com

As you can see here, most comments are good; in fact, excellent.  The two “negative comments” are very constructive and describe the fit and fabric.  The positive reviews are more about function.  This leaves the decision up to the consumer as to whether the fabric is what they are looking for or not.

If the comments were almost all negative and the complaints were more along the lines of “This jacket is made from poor material and the sizing is wrong,” then Zappos might discontinue the item and work out a refund deal with dissatisfied customers, hopefully maintaing trust in their brand.  Without the comments, they might not know why they were losing the customers forever.

Intensive two-day training attracts 60

Virginia Main Street’s annual essentials training provided a two-day session focused on economic restructuring and design challenges facing communities today.  A group of more than 60 participants gathered in the heart of Old Town Manassas at the renovated Candy Factory, now home to the Center for the Arts of Greater Manassas and Prince William County.

The adaptively reused Candy Factory provided an appopriate setting for discussion on historic preservation and economic restructuring.

The adaptively reused Candy Factory provided an appopriate setting for discussion on historic preservation and economic restructuring.

Hilary Greenberg, of Greenberg Development Services and a former Main Street program manager in North Carolina, guided the group through economic restructuring strategies that are particularly applicable in the current economic climate. 

“Main Street has weathered crises before,” she said. “In fact, the program emerged in response to downtown disinvestment, so the economic restructuring tools at your disposal are the uniquely suited to today’s climate.” 

Economic restructuring tools include the power of the committee itself, knowledge of the market area and the strategic plan.  The approach builds from community strengths, and the strategy to make the most of those strengths can only be developed from within the communty. That’s why an effective committee is so important.

On day two Kathy Frazier of Frazier Associates, well known to designated Main Street Communities through her long-standing community assistance work in facade improvements, wayfinding, and other design strategies, gave a thorough briefing on the design process, historic preservation essentials, and the basic of building improvements.  Again, emphasis was placed on the work of an engaged committee of community stakeholders. The day closed with a discussion of the Community Development Block Grant process.

For more information on the training, download the presentations at: http://www.dhcd.virginia.gob/mainstreet.

Hosted by Historic Manassas, Inc., the group enjoyed an opening reception with community and board members and meals from several of Old Town’s restaurants, and the opportunity to explore the merchants and restaurants themselves one day during lunch with the help of a $10 Old Town gift card. 


Towns that build entrepreneurs

Economic restructuring in five Oklahoma towns built from existing assets to support entrepreneurial climates.

Economic restructuring in five Oklahoma towns built from existing assets to support entrepreneurial climates.

A recent Daily Yonder article was forwarded to the VMS Blog from the City of Martinsville, which is pulling together community investment in their central business district through the Uptown Partners project. 

 “The Town that Builds Entrepreneurs” uses data from Oklahoma communities to demonstrate the power of the Main Street economic restructuring approach: an incremental effort to build on existing assets while diversifying the business mix. The communities focused on quality of life, including the natural beauty that surrounds them, and they built from the industries that had shaped the towns. They even partnered across jurisdictional boundaries.

In Martinsville-Henry County, the community is pulling together to put a similar strategy to work using the unique assets of the area, such as its furniture-making history, cultural and arts assets, the New College Institute– an uptown educational resource, and the area’s potential for uptown housing.  

Martinsville’s Main Street program, Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association (MURA), is one of the uptown partners working to foster a climate specifically conducive to entrepreneurs. Track the community’s progress at: www.uptownmville.com.

Take the Holiday Retail Poll

Is your Main Street on the map?

mapping main streetIn the United States, there are 10,466 streets that go by the name of Main, and no doubt, each has a story to tell.  To capture them, a new social media project, Mapping Main Street, is putting to work the internet’s capacity for sharing video, photos, and words. 

There’s a small team traveling the roads to document  Main Street U.S.A., including some video producers and National Public Radio (NPR)-style documentarians.  In fact, NPR is a sponsor, and the radio network has already begun sharing the stories (In Chatanooga, Main Street is a prostitution strip (Weekend Edition; Aug 22, 2009). (See, things along your Main Street don’t seem too bad now, do they?)

Already in Virginia, content has been posted on Middletown, Lexington, Harrisonburg, Chilhowie, Buchanan, Winchester, Warrenton, and Waterford.  In Chilhowie, they worked the project for a free meal at the Town House restaurant.

But Main’s only a name, and if  you don’t have a street that goes by it, there are still lots of ways to tell your story with video, audio, and the written word.  With today’s easy access to inexpensive technology, there’s a great opportunity for Virginia’s traditional downtowns to share their communities with others and to even share information with those who live there. 

For those interested in exploring the idea further, check out this blog dedicated to “placecasting.”   And send us links to your productions so that we can blog about them here.