Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Reviewing your vendors: A how-to guide

I love that brides use the Web to share vendor reviews with other couples. These reviews, both good and bad, can help couples avoid a costly mistake, discover an unknown option and make an informed decision.

However, today I was reminded that not everyone may be aware of how to best publish a review, or even how to find reviews to read. A poor bride wrote a scathing review of her New Jersey bridal shop--on my blog's profile page in a blog directory. I'm not sure how that happened (other than being in the wedding business and having the word "Memories" in our name, the two businesses have nothing in common), but I wish I could contact this woman to point her toward some proper outlets for her rage.

And so I give you my tips for reviewing your vendors:

Find the proper outlet
In most cases, your vendors are local businesses, so post your reviews to local Web sites. Local message boards, such as the Pittsburgh board on The Knot, are a great forum for this. Also look at sites like Bridalhood and Wedding Wire, which focus on vendor reviews. In Pittsburgh, you can add your reviews to the Pittsburgh Wedding Vendor Reviews Blog.

Share the good and bad
Don't just review the bad vendors. Sharing positive reviews is just as important as it will point couples toward the right companies. Plus, readers will place more trust in your assessments if you're able to share that you had good relationships with other vendors (because let's face it, some people really can be bridezillas!)

Choose your words carefully
Before you hit "publish," step back and take a look at what you wrote. Again, this is a matter of earning respect for what you have to say. Proofread your post for spelling and grammar (if this isn't your strong point, ask someone else to do it for you). Ask yourself if your review is fair and truthful.

Also, be careful about bringing another vendor's name into the discussion. In the bridal shop review I mentioned above, the woman closed with "use 'X' bridal shop instead." Now, hopefully, she just meant this as a recommendation for a shop she ended up working with or knows friends who have. But a statement like this, without further explanation, can lead to suspicion about the authenticity of the review. It truly crossed my mind that this review might actually be written on behalf of "X" bridal shop to scare business away from a competitor.

Resolve your complaint
It's important to share your experiences with other brides, but sometimes it's not an isolated incident or it's a more serious matter than not liking a vendor. For more official results than simply posting to a wedding Web site, report the company to your local Better Business Bureau.

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