The Power of the Not-So-Glowing Product Review


I am a big believer in honest product reviews. Early last year I wrote a review of two food magazines I bought myself. While I had great things to say about one magazine, I had some key criticisms for the second magazine because as a consumer I believed the design could have been greatly improved. After paying $5.00 for the magazine I believed a professional graphic designer should have laid out the pages instead of the editor herself and I blogged about it. About a week later I received an email from the editor of the magazine. Uh, oh!

She was not happy about my review at all! She accused me of not helping a fellow woman business owner and purposely writing a bad review to harm the magazine. From my perspective, without better design, not only would the magazine fail miserably, it would continue to disappoint readers who plunked down $5 for what they assumed would be a great magazine and at the time, it just wasn’t.

Fast forward to today when I bought another issue of the second magazine. To my surprise, the design was vastly improved. While it’s not yet on par with the multi-million dollar glossies we all know, it has definitely come a long way and the pages look far better.

I believe this magazine wouldn’t have improved had I and others not complained, written, and blogged about the ghastly design. While I am not suggesting you trash every product you review, I am suggesting you pen balanced reviews that highlight the good and the bad about a product. It does the brand a world of good when you share your honest feedback. Then the ball is in their court; they can either choose to listen or not.

9 comments

  1. I am wrestling with this – I know when companies send a product to ‘review’ they really mean ‘write a happy ad for’ and if I don’t like the product, I don’t know what to do! Thanks for this perspective – I have a Not So Glowing review to write now…

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  2. Stay honest and you Stay Credible. I’m nowhere afraid of penning a negative review. In all honesty, I could care less about scoring cool points with a company because I wrote something “nice”. I consider my reviews a service to my readers, not the company.

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  3. It’s an interesting debate.. the whole should I or shouldn’t I write a bad review.. most answer I just don’t write the bad reviews. Either I send the product back or simply tell the company I don’t like the product well enough to write about it.

    But the thing is.. do your readers know that? Do they know that IF you are writing about it it’s because you truly love it.

    I know from my own experience it’s very hard, you feel like you’re disappointing someone if you don’t write a glowing review every single time… right?

    I just think women need to hear that it’s okay to not always love everything and a really good way to solve this is to write the things you ‘don’t love’ in EVERY single review. If the things you dislike are more than the things you do like.. then is it a bad review? Not really, it’s JUST A REVIEW.

    Almost like maybe there should be a standard ‘review’ for people to see.. and compare and use or not use.. but realize it’s okay to point out the negatives of a software application or the high cost of a product in your opinion as opposed to it’s worth…

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  4. And this is why I love you. Mom bloggers, in particular, are at risk of losing all credibility if we don’t honestly share how we feel about the products we’re looking at. I have a policy of writing balanced reviews on everything. I share what I like – and what I don’t – about products that I review. There is no need to completely bash a product – unless it falls apart in your hands or turns your hair green – but you can constructively critique a product in a way that is useful for readers AND for companies. I don’t usually post links in comments, but I spoke about this at Blissdom, and have posted my notes on my blog (including 4 reasons that companies like balanced reviews):
    http://quirkyfusion.com/2010/02/blissdom-pr-and-marketing-101-review-blogging-templates-and-prompts/

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  5. I wrestled with this at first but then I saw some advice similar to this written somewhere else (I don’t remember where) and the light bulb went off for me too. I don’t have to love a product. What doesn’t work for may work very well for someone else. I just have to be honest about what I did like and what I don’t. I haven’t come across a product that so horrible I felt bad writing about it but I’ll cross that bridge then IF that day ever comes.

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