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External Comparison of Smart Marketing Wizard VS. Customer Lobby
As businesses offering a number of parallel services and products, Smart Marketing Wizard (SMW) and Customer Lobby (CL) both focus on customer reviews and reputation marketing, and in this sense are competitors in the same niche. In this report, the two are compared through external audits alone with no actual services rendered, with three particular areas of interest reviewed:
- The service or product strategy and methodology
- The features included and pricing (over lifetime of business)
- The online presence and business establishment
Again, no in-depth measurements are made and analyses are based solely upon external audits that are easily obtainable by potential leads.
The immediate result of the general comparison is that SMW is more competitively advantageous due to its features included, despite being at a disadvantage when it comes to online presence. Their approaches to the customer review and reputation marketing strategy differ slightly, and in this regard the potential client will need to make it his or her own prerogative which approach works best for their business needs.
I. Service Strategy and Methodology
Put plainly, the service concept, strategy and methodology of the two businesses are as follows:CL – Offers a platform of reviews for confirmed businesses where they can post their customer reviews. From here, the service expands into an automated review request system as well as review syndication network that spans some of the largest review hubs on the web. The service also leverages the user-generated content (UGC) of reviews for reputation marketing, which, upon initial examination, uses lead generation from inbound marketing garnered from the UGC.
SMW – Offers a full range of customer review management and reputation marketing, including training both the business owner and the business employees on the fundamentals of customer experience. The service, by its nature, includes automated review management (requesting, tracking, alerts, syndication to review sites, and even response templates) and extends into reputation marketing rooted in the stance that quality products and customer service make a reputation, and from there the reviews garnered are used to gain more leads.
Notably, CL uses a specialized platform for reviews and from its core competency expands its services into related territory, focused on making the process of gaining and using customer reviews for lead generation easier and all under one dashboard for business owners. SMW, on the other hand, focuses on helping the business owner build a reputation directly by helping the business deliver excellent customer experiences, and then it leverages the good reviews that follow to gain more clientele.
At first glance SMW offers something better by range and scope, but in reality, the difference in approach and core competency can also mark the difference in clientele.
Small business owners, for instance, who need to grow their business could take a look at the two services and consider:
- investing time, money, and effort into SMW to build a customer service foundation, something most small businesses are typically not fully trained for; or
- going for the platform and extra services offered by CL, and focus on growing the business through other avenues.
Mid-sized businesses too, could take two perspectives in the matter:
- the business might already have a functioning in-house customer service arm which researches and grows on its own as a department, in which case, it would require just CL’s review platform; or
- It could decide to help bolster its customer service through the full range of SMW’s training modules, balancing its other marketing and expanding ventures with customer reviews with SMW’s help.
he examples are generalizations. More factors will inevitably be included in an actual purchase decision.
The difference in the matter of approach is key for the target clientele and making their purchase decision, if based solely on the service strategy. If taking full features into consideration, however, the concept dictates the features included, and the full range of features is thus typically more significant when making a purchase decision.
**An additional concern is how CL conducts its business. Google does not encourage third parties to post reviews for other businesses, but CL’s business model ensures verification of both business and uses leaving reviews in a way that Google finds permissible. CL offers the platform and has put in effect measures to avoid posting fake reviews (what these measures are specifically are not included in the report). Suffice to say that CL is “not in the red” regarding this issue, acting more like a CMS (like Blogger or WordPress) for reviews than a third party intervening.
II. Features Included
Again, no actual services were rendered for this report, and now information regarding inner workings will be included here. The features listed are based from what the businesses themselves state.
CL features for its best option, “Plus Edition:”
Their features are grouped:
Undoubtedly, more services (either parallel to these listed or in sub-categories under them) will be found by clients who sign up.
Their features are grouped:
Review Platform and Automation
• Employee Customer Champion Training
• BadReview Response Templates
• Automated Review Request Bot
• Email Marketing
• Done For You Newsletter
More services and features will likewise be offered aside from these main items listed, if a client chooses to sign up.
The structure of the services shows the focus as laid out above in the service concept, strategy, and methodology. Do not be misled by the column numbers; CL has more than SMW only because the features listed merge the review platform with its automation as a matter of course. In the same vein, SMW’s Review Streamer feature is actually both automation and a marketing feature.
Pound for pound, SMW has the edge when it comes to features because its core is impacting the service delivered by its clients and not just affording a dashboard for easy and convenient reviews. CL’s expertise support offers is only a fraction of what actual training could deliver (again, only upon initial audit – SMW’s training features were not tested for this report), especially if as SMW states, the training is immediate and constant. SMW also has an extra distinct feature in that it offers these services per location, correctly assuming that some businesses have several locations and promoting the concept that the reputation of each location could and should be managed individually.
As for pricing, this information is immediately accessible to the public:
$199 one-time setup fee
$149 monthly fee
*for Plus Option ($99 monthly fee for Business Option)
$199 one-time setup fee per location
$197 monthly fee for first location
$35 monthly fee for each additional location
The wider scope and range of services offered by SMW comes with a heftier price tag. The pricing balances out, however, if clients have multiple locations, since SMW offers a significantly lower fee per additional location,.
With this cost matrix, assuming that for the lifetime of the business it will inevitably expand, and applying the best practice of managing each location individually for their reputations, SMW is a more sensible long term investment, with a slightly high friction the first year.
III. Online Presence
Online presence and online business structure is NOT meticulously researched in this report, and for the purposes of an immediate comparison the fields touched upon will only include:
- Search results (not just for keyword but also for niche)
- Online mentions and resources
- Website structure and usability
- Length of time in service
- Existing records of service merit (reviews, news, etc.)
In nearly all these areas, CL has the upper hand. It has been in operation for a long time and has built its content and linking, and has been mentioned in various sources and even in its own Wikipedia article. It does not have a strong search presence for particular keywords, but its B2B referrals continue to drive its growth.
As for existing mentions and service merits, a preliminary search for both concludes that CL reviews and testimonials – even user cases and actual news coverage – is more easily found, attesting to its years of being in operation. Interestingly, because of the nature of its business, searching for reviews, testimonials, or coverage for SMW is relatively harder because of its keyword targets, which crowds the search results with its own pages, not external ones. CL has simply been in service longer and its network of mentions and links, being more established, is more robust. However the SMW website is sleek, informative and very well designed and includes a blog filled with free resources and training to anyone, not just member businesses. One free tool that stood out to us was their FreeBadReviewReport.com which allows business owners to enter their phone number and instantly see all their bad reviews posted online with top review sites like Google, Yahoo and Yelp reporting.
Online presence and business structure is briefly mentioned in this report because of its influence in the consumer purchase decision. Many would prefer more established, easily researched for companies, though the disadvantage of being relatively new in the niche also brings with it the flipside of being excitable and quick to develop.
For the purposes of this report, aligned with making an informed purchase decision, clients looking for a wide range of local business marketing and review strategies tools and training services and a worthwhile, long-term investment would do well to take the chance of going with the relatively less established SMW. The risks are balanced out by SMW’s “never-ending money back guarantee,” which, if fulfilled, is a failsafe measure for its clients.
For businesses needing a platform for reviews and a nearly hands-free dashboard, the well-established CL is advisable, though if the business is not yet adept at customer service, CL’s lack of training is a disadvantage that can only be alleviated to a certain degree by their expertise support helping to make The Smart Marketing Wizard a formidable Customer Lobby alternative.
END OF REPORT
**This report was prepared using face value information from the businesses themselves and easily observable facets surrounding them, taking verifiable data from first and third party sources. Recommendations and analyses made are based on research, the information found here, and the professional views of the researcher. The researcher takes from nearly five years of experience researching on SMB online marketing, branding, reputation management, and development, and is a freelance published writer, editor, and content development specialist.