Bulletins are a great way for businesses to connect with their customers to increase their brand reach and to advertise new services that they are offering. We are all used to them and while a few can be irritating, most are thoughtful and informative. Recently we received one from a Kiwi company – EENZ (Exhibitions & Events New Zealand) – who stage consumer shows such as the Auckland Home Show and the Canterbury Home Show.

The bulletin had some good tips for marketing as Level 1 Lockdown came into force, but I noticed something disingenuous about some of the suggestions and it got me thinking about the behemoth that is US the marketing company, Google.

Amongst a number of tips about updating and maximising website content and reach, was this tip regarding online reviews:

Now is a great time to reach out to your happy customer database and request reviews for either your FaceBook business page, website or Google My Business page. This will build trust for new potential customers and also help your online presence.  Depending on what reports you read up to 84% of people trust online reviews as if they’re from friends or family. A locale with no reviews or has very little of them is at a disadvantage. Remember, the search engine ‘Google’ likes it when companies help it to deliver the correct information to its users!

Yes, Google likes reviews but it doesn’t only utilise the reviews on its own platform to deliver relevant searches. It also aggregates ‘third party’ reviews to meet consumers’ desires for relevant and timely searches. Perhaps because of the sheer size of the US company and the monopoly it has as a search engine, its review platform is unwieldy and open to easy manipulation. A reviewer requires only one thing to leave a review – a Gmail account. Fake reviews – good and bad – are very difficult to question or to remove. This is one of the reasons third party reviews are also utilised in accumulating results in Google searches. Facebook reviews are similar.

And in many other ways, Google and Facebook are similar. They are both huge companies that dominate online and social media. More than that, for better or worse, they are now fully ingrained in global cultural consciousness. And, in New Zealand, they pay paltry amounts of tax.

Now, more than ever, supporting local Kiwi businesses is not just a nice idea – it’s a necessity. Without the usual influx of tourists and their attendant contribution to our GDP, many New Zealand companies will struggle and prioritising local spending will make some businesses and prevent them from breaking.

So, back to my original observation. Why would a “Kiwi” company like EENZ  direct people to leave reviews on overseas platforms, when locally owned businesses – such as NoCowboys – do a fantastic and necessary job of connecting Kiwi consumers with reputable businesses? Why promote their ‘local services’ in a bulletin that then promotes global conglomerates?