The terms “good review” or “bad review” get bandied about a lot
by audiophiles and audio manufacturers. I maintain that in the hands of a good
PR/marketing person there is no such thing as a bad review.
Contrary to popular belief, reviews don’t sell products. What
reviews actually do is start and stimulate a dialog between manufacturers and
customers. Since very few, if any, products are perfect, a savvy audiophile products
manufacturer should expect that every review will have some criticism which
they will want to address. That’s a good thing because it allows a manufacturer
to show customers how they respond to negative issues.
The Absolute Sound and Stereophile have
always provided space for manufacturers to comment on completed reviews. Most
websites also have provisions for comments and feedback. Smart manufacturers
should comment, even if it’s only a “thank you” to any and all reviews of their
products. It shows a manufacturer is paying attention.
By way of illustration, I’ll lay out a couple of scenarios and what
I think would be the best way to turn them into wins for the manufacturer and
Problem – The review points toward several “issues” in
the ergonomics of the product
Solution – The manufacturer’s comments should include a
mild rebuttal with illustrations of why each ergonomic design choice was made
and why the manufacturer feels they were the best options.
Problem – The reviewer finds an advertised feature does
Solution – The manufacturer should determine if there
was a failure of the individual sample unit or a universal problem. Once this
is established beyond a doubt, the manufacturer’s comments should explain what
the problem was and how they have fixed it.
Problem – The review sample does not outperform verses
similarly priced competition.
Solution – Discontinue the product…just kidding – but I
can count on both hands the number of times I’ve seen manufacturers do exactly
that. The manufacturer should examine the reviewer’s reproduction chain to see
if anything in the system could be negatively affecting their product’s
performance. The manufacturer’s comments should focus on possible reasons for
the performance issue.
Problem – The reviewer simply hates your product.
Solution – Call them an incompetent wanker in your
comments. No, no, no! This will definitely NOT work. It will also make an enemy, who, at best won’t touch any of your gear ever again, and at worst may go out of his
way to trash you in future reviews.
Never, ever, blame the reviewer for a bad review, even if they
are completely and utterly at fault. Instead show examples where other reviewers
had opposite opinions and let the customer decide who is right…