The number one request by Star Wars fans when George Lucas announced that he was releasing all six motion pictures in a re-mastered format was to edit out every reference to Jar Jar Binks, a misbegotten computer-generated racially-controversial character that the Wall Street Journal described as a “Rastafarian Stepin Fetchit on platform hoofs, crossed annoyingly with Butterfly McQueen.” Multi-billionaire director Lucas has a greater net worth than Donald Trump, thus may be blithely unconcerned with any financial impact of the groundswell of opposition to a character in his saga, but small business online marketers cannot afford to be quite so insensitive to their customers’ preferences. Many small businesses have their own Jar Jar Binks, which they heedlessly and pitilessly promote in opposition to their customers’ wishes, and these are well worth editing out, much in the way that some YouTube fan versions of Star Wars have eliminated Jar Jar Binks entirely.

Listen to Multiple Channels

The primary way to understand what your online audience is saying about you is to pay close attention to the chatter about your small business on various social media channels. Your company doesn’t have to make publicly protested missteps as massive as Blackberry’s multi-day service outages or Netflix’s abrupt 50% price hike to locate the Jar Jar hiding in your offerings. There are literally hundreds of platforms and tools that can help you assess and track the chatter about your small business, each offering a slightly different feature set. Applying these monitoring services to determine what is being said about you and where it’s being said can point out the holes in your marketing plan. You don’t need to pull a major product line just because some 13-year-old on a nihilistic forum claims that it sucks, but if you’re noticing a widespread negative trend on any of your offerings, it’s high time to reconsider.

Ask Your Social Media Followers

Unlike the old fashioned monolithic form of advertising where a message was issued over broadcast or print media to exhort consumers to buy a product or service, social media and email marketing is a fully balanced two way conversation between a company and its customers. Therefore if you are trying to seek out and destroy your own Jar Jars, ask your social networking following what they think of your offerings. Encourage them by providing some form of incentive such as badges or chits for their participation, or rewards for the most popular comments, and let the opinion exchange commence.

Make a Game out of It

If your small business has a considerable product catalog, consider turning its pruning into a social media game. Invite subscribers through your email newsletter to vote for candidates for exclusion and keep score on your social network presences. One way to motivate online participation is to set up a valuable prize for the best essay on why such-and-such must be eliminated, or to reward voters for the winning (losing?) entry with a discount or other incentive.

Jar Jars Are Not Necessarily Products

Keep in mind that Jar Jars may be lurking in any corner of your marketing plan and do not necessarily have to be a product or service that you offer. Your customers may be upset by something as momentous as your email newsletter frequency or an insensitivity inadvertently displayed towards a minority group or special interest; or they may be ticked off by something as minor as a patterned background on your newsletter template that makes your text hard to read.

Set your sights on driving your Jar Jars into extinction and you will find that getting rid of the Binks will ease your way to the Bank.