Welcome to Remote Start Podcast!
Oct. 12, 2022

E29: Wear Your Reputation on Your Sleeves. How to Build a Powerful Reputation Plan for Your Business with Matt R. Vance

In this episode, we have a very special guest, Matt Vance. Over the past decade, he has managed over 2000 review profiles and listings for products, brands, and employers. Matt Vance just launched his book, The Review Cycle, and as of September, he... See show notes at: https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/e29-wear-your-reputation-on-your-sleeves-how-to-build-a-powerful-reputation-plan-for-your-business-with-matt-r-vance/#show-notes

In this episode, we have a very special guest, Matt Vance. Over the past decade, he has managed over 2000 review profiles and listings for products, brands, and employers. Matt Vance just launched his book, The Review Cycle, and as of September, he started an agency where he is on a mission to help you turn your online reviews into a huge business competitive advantage.

We will be discussing your business's online reputation. Regardless of the size of your business, social proof, which is consumer reviews, and user-generated content, is critical and can dramatically lift sales momentum for your brand. And today, Matt will share four specific, actionable steps for any business to start or enhance its online reputation. We will dig into some of the challenges and excitements Matt's had and been going through recently as he leaped from being an employee to an entrepreneur.

Remote Start Nation,

Let's get into the show!


Learn more about Matt Vance at: thereviewcycle.com


Learn more about Remote Start Podcast at:  https://www.remotestartpodcast.com/


Jim: What is up Remote Start Nation! Let's get something started. I'm Jim Doyon and welcome to another episode of Remote Start, where I bring you stories and strategies on how to start a business, build a brand, and create your desired lifestyle.

On today's episode, we are going to be discussing your business' online reputation, regardless of the size of your business, social proof, which are consumer reviews, user-generated content is super critical and can dramatically lift sales momentum for your brand. So Remote Start Nation, in order to do this, I've brought on someone who not only wrote the book on this, literally wrote the book on this, but in the past decade, He has managed over 2000 review profiles and listings for products, brands, and employers.

Matt Vance just launched his book, The Review Cycle and as of September left his employer to start an agency where he is on a mission to help you turn your online reviews into a huge business competitive advantage. Today, Matt is going to share four specific actionable steps for any business to start or enhance their online reputation, and we are going to dig into some of the challenges and excitements Matt's had and been going through recently as he's made the leap from being an employee to being an entrepreneur.

Without further ado, Matt, welcome to the Remote Start Nation.

Matt: Hey, thanks Jim. It's a pleasure to be here with Remote Start Nation and speaking with you and pumped for this, I'm literally on my first day, I left my company yesterday, so it's fresh. \

Jim: That is so exciting, so exciting. Congratulations man, that's such a hard thing to do, and you did it, and I look forward to digging more into this episode of some of the things you went through and all that, so congrats!

Matt: Thanks.

Jim: So before we get into the details of the book, which I cannot wait to get through and dig in with you and then also the four strategies that you're gonna share. Let's talk a little bit about you. Tell me something about yourself. What's one thing that someone wouldn't know when they first met you?

Matt: Well, I guess one little secret is that I crochet, it's not very common for guys, so sometimes I refer to it as brochet, it makes it a little bit more manageable, but, yeah, I definitely have crocheted some hats and sweater and a couple other things, so that's just a good winter hobby.

Jim: That's awesome. So in the review cycle, is that you, you wrote the book and now you've gone on your own to start a business, helping others with a review process. So is this the first business you've started?

Matt: Legally and technically, yes. I've done a lot of just consulting on the side, and just reported that on my individual taxes, but this is the first time I've opened an actual company entity and I'm just leaning into it now, so it's, it's related to some of the stuff I've done in the past, but now it's gonna be the full time focus.

Jim: And as you said, this is your first full day, so, you know, I know that you just left a company, been for a couple years, your first full day of being on your own, you know, what were some of the emotions help the Remote Start Nation, the individuals that are going through right now, some of the things that you went through. What were some of the emotions leading up to the day that you said, Hey you know, I'm gonna go off on my own and make that leap?

Matt: You know, that's a great question, Jim. I think in the moment there was just a lot of, you know, saying well wishes to good friends and trying to keep those connections strong and appreciating the things that I've learned and the experiences I've had with good team members and mentors, I think as far as the decision to leave, that was something that had been built up for a long time. I started working on this book over five years ago, and it was kind of a calculated risk that if I could learn a lot through writing a book, you know, I'd become more of an expert in this specific field, and if it had the, if it opened the door to starting a business, then I would take that door for sure, and that's how it's played out so far.

Jim: So what was like out of all that and all the emotions and what you went through, like what's one takeaway you can give the Remote Start Nation who's currently going through the same thing?

Matt: I would say if you are on that path, you know, whether it's a one year path, a five year path, a 10 year path to being ready for that single day where you transition from being an employee to being out on your own, be okay with the wins that nobody sees. I had tons of days where I was writing my book, sitting in my basement, and I would come upstairs, you know, just pumped, and I'd tell my wife, Oh, I just learned this awesome thing, like, this is so cool, I figured out this, you know, model or I had this calculation that made a lot of sense, I was able to make this advancement and I'm just jumping up and down and nobody knows about it, you know, I think you have a lot of those moments along the way where it doesn't become publicly showcased that. I had tons of days is is happening until the timing is right, and so I think you have to be okay with that along the way and just celebrate on your own and then one day it'll happen.

Jim: That's so true. It's a lot of the little things and just building and building and building until you're ready to make that leap and now it's time.

Matt: It's time.

Jim: So you're on your first day, you haven't even finished your first month of being on your own, you know, what are some of the things that you did and you talked about like a one year, a five year, a 10 year, this plan, you know, what were the some of the things that you did or are doing that you've kind of laid the path to be successful?

Matt: Yeah, that's a another great question, Jim. I would say one of the most obvious ones is your network like take care of relationships with people like don't be a jerk to anyone for any reason, because somebody is gonna know that person somewhere and you don't want to have any, you know, negative experiences out there for people to share about you, I think just being a good person and caring for people, giving, lifting others where you can, being someone that can say yes, that matters a lot. It doesn't mean you're trying to be manipulative like you look at every possible friendship of like, what can I get out of this, but eventually, you know, those things, those relationships can be good for you and recognize that you should be deliberate.

Jim: That's a great point. It's about, you know, kind of further that with what you're saying, it's about giving value without expecting anything in return and if you could do that, then yeah, a lot of times good things happen.

Matt: And I've learned a lot from other people that I've talked to, I've gained mentors along the way, I had a conversation with a Utah State professor that ended up, I learned a ton from him, he's been a mentor for me over the past couple years as I've navigated the publishing industry and I had another friend that helped me with a lot of perspective with, you know, review management companies and another one on the legal side and there's just a lot of different perspectives that you can gain from your community, from the people around you and if you're always just trying to give, then you're gonna get as well.

Jim: That's a great point. Well, very excited for you and you know, I wanna welcome you to the Remote Start Nation, being part of this entrepreneurial journey we're on and you know, if you haven't already go back and listen to some of the previous episodes where I've interviewed some entrepreneurs that are further along in their journey, there's gonna be some great value in that and so yeah, and I thank you for being on this episode today and dropping a ton of value for the Remote Start Nation, and you know, not only so far in this episode, we've only discussed what it's been like for you to go off on your own, but for a lot of the Remote Start Nation that's listening to this, that has already started their business, they're looking to grow their brands, they're already online, they've got or a brick and mortar or an online company, you know, something so important that I think a lot of business owners, and I know you'll agree with me, and you wrote a whole book based on this, they'll set up a social media site or they'll, they'll get their product out there, but then that's it, they don't manage their reviews, so, you know, I'd really, really love to dig in at this point and hear the four steps that you can share with us and you know, Remote Start Nation, before we get in, Matt gets into more detail in the four steps, like, please do yourself a favor, check out the review cycle that Matt wrote the book, and I've got a copy of it right here and I've been reading it since I received it, but so much knowledge and so many awesome, awesome things coming from this book to help you manage anything online from reviews. So, Matt, with that said, like, let's dig into it, man. So tell me like, what are the four steps that are so important that a business owner should jump into right away with reviews?

Matt: So there's the review cycle, it's a book, but it's also a consumer behavior model and there's four phases in this model. The outside of this circle is the behaviors that the consumer goes through, and then on the inside of the circle, I've mapped out the actions that a company can take to positively influence those behaviours. Now the premise behind this and I'll get into the four steps, but before I do, I just wanted to say that reviews matter, it's a form of social proof, all companies need to care about it because if you say you're awesome, it's only believed so much, it's viewed as propaganda, right? Because you have a vested interest in that transaction but when someone else says you're awesome, it's more believable and in fact, I'll give you just a little snippet of information here, HubSpot did a research study around the trustworthiness of different business professionals, and at the very top of the list, they found that doctors were trusted by 49% of consumers and firefighters were at 48% and they had this huge list of all these different professionals, at the very bottom, they had sales people and marketers were trusted at 3% and politicians at 1%, which is, you know, interesting. But in the research that I've conducted around reviews is, you know, over 90%, 97%, there's little variance in the different studies, but a ton of people use reviews, basically everyone, and 85%, this is the stat that matters the most, 85% of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation. So we just learned that, you know, a doctor's trusted at 49% reviews are trusted at 85, so if you can change your pitch to be, Hey, don't listen to me, you know, I can sell you this product all day, but listen to what the community is saying that is trust arbitrage, you're increasing the level of trust, increasing the level of purchase intent that consumers will have for your product, your service, or even for employers that are looking to get more job seekers applying to jobs, it's the same relationship where the job seeker is the customer and that purchase is applying for the job, it's the same type of relationship. But yeah, I can kind of explain a little bit more about the four. So for the consumer path, it's a cyclical pattern.

The first one is consideration. That consumer is going to first say, Hey, I wanna buy a vacuum, and they're gonna start considering all the options. Now when they find one that they're interested in, they're going to engage with OGC. OGC stands for Organizational Generated Content. That's all of the ads and all of the content that the company has created on that PDP or product listing. And then after they've looked at that, they're gonna scroll down, they're gonna engage with the Q and A’s and the reviews, and they're engaging with UGC, they want to validate if this is a good decision from the community standpoint is the community, you know, saying that this is a good vacuum, right? And when they get validation from that, like if the ratings check out, the reviews are good, then they're gonna make a transaction and they're gonna enter the last stage, which is post purchase decision. Now, in that phase, you're hoping that they'll leave you a review, and when they do, they're actually changing the landscape of what the next consumer finds as they go through this cycle. So the whole landscape of what people are finding as they're shopping for stuff online is constantly changing in real time, ratings and numbers of reviews, you know, comments on social media in other places, it's always changing and you're trying to hopefully change it for the better so that people are finding better, authentic, and real, we're not trying to manipulate something in or unethical way, we're just trying to get a greater representation of what people are really experiencing. So that's the consumer order of the phases but for the company, you're the one that wants to influence these behaviours, we're actually gonna purposefully go through this pattern backwards, we're gonna start with phase four post purchase, and our action item is ask for reviews. That's the first thing you can do. You can overcome negative reviews by just getting more of them. Now in the book I talk about a principle called the law of self-Selecting extremes. When you don't ask for feedback, all you get is the polarizing extremes, the very negative and very positive experiences. Those are the people that are willing to go out of their way to share feedback on their own, but if you ask for reviews, you lower the barrier to participate and you get a more fair representative sample, and it's almost always pos more positive. Like when I was at ifit, we did this with Google, with their Google listing. All we did was we started an automated review request to, consumers post purchase, and we were able to drive the star rating from 2.0 stars to 4.3 stars in like 9 or 10 months, and we didn't even change the experience, we just got more people to say what the experience was. So that's the first action item, ask for reviews.

Jim: So ask for reviews. So and I want you to go through the others, but I have a question on that. So, you know, if someone has a fear of asking for a review, like what do they do? What's the first step? What are some things they should consider to ask? Like just ask.

Mat: Yeah, just don't be afraid of negative reviews, it's not a big deal. Like a negative review can actually help sell your product, it brings authenticity to it. If your star rating's too high, it's viewed as being faked manipulated, too good to be true, and from the research I've conducted, your conversion rates will actually dip, and a fully optimized review or listing is at four and a half stars, and you know, a hundred plus reviews or depending on the comparison in the category, if everyone else has a thousand reviews, then you wanna be more competitive and be around that mark as well.

Jim: But with that said too, if you get a negative review, what's the next step that you should take as a business owner with that review?

Matt: So that leads perfectly into the second action item. You want to respond to reviews. That's number two. Now, in the book, I go through a whole bunch of different techniques, I've personally written about 2000 pages worth of review responses, so I've had some time to develop some different strategies and, and messaging, and this is a very unique form of written communication, it's a one to one communication, but it's on stage, it's on the internet, everyone else is watching, and so your target audience is actually not the person that wrote the review, your target audience is everyone else. And so you want to craft that response in a way that showcases the high level of care that you have for that customer and it helps other people looking at your product offering and that what they'll say is, Oh, look, this is how the company treats their people, this is how I can expect to be treated, I'm either having an increase trust and purchase intent because of this or now I'm dissuaded and I don't want to to purchase from you. So yeah, the response matters and it can increase conversions for sure.

Jim: So that's, so that's a second step.

Matt: Yep. That's number two. Number three is harvesting insights and this one's correlating with the Engage with OGC organizational Generated Content. Now, harvesting Insights means doing a data analysis of your reviews, understanding what people are saying about your offering, and then making strategic changes based on that feedback. Now in chapter five, that's where I talk about harvesting insights, I go through a model that I've developed called the Perception Matrix. It's a four grid map with positive and negative and perceived and legitimate. Now in this fore graph, this four quadrant graph, you're going to map out the experienced drivers that you find as you read reviews. So if someone says like, you know, this vacuum, going back to that analogy, this vacuum is too short. I have to lean over really far, and I don't like it, like that's gonna be a negative perceived driver. Now, as you read your reviews, every single one of those experienced drivers that you identify, it lives in the perceived column because that entire data set, all of your reviews are only perceived drivers because it's on average about 2% of people leave reviews and so you don't have all of your customers' feedback, but you have the subset of people that are you have the voice that's the loudest, that's accessible, and so that's where your perceptions are formed. Now, the legitimate side of that perception matrix is all of your internal data, so if you were to, you know, see the exact height of your vacuum and you were to compare that to the average height of American men and women and then say like, Yeah, this was a standard vacuum height, then you'd essentially debunk that perceived negative driver, and there's different ways that you want to address that based on if it's an actual legitimate problem, or if it's only perceived, and in the book, I go through seven different scenarios where things can be misaligned and how to overcome them with strategic messaging and one of the most powerful is just managing expectations, if the vacuum is shorter or taller, you just gotta tell people what it is so they know what to expect and satisfaction will grow up.

Jim: And what you're saying too, from the OGC content, like. You can take those reviews and even make advertisements out of like, Okay, so everybody loves this about our vacuum, let's make an advertisement or a campaign around that quality from the vacuum, right?

Matt: A hundred percent, yeah. Now, another thing I would say is you can do this for your competitors too. I've done this a lot of times, I've gone through and I've done a full analysis of reviews for competitor offerings, and that's informed product development for some of the products that I've helped influence so that we could differentiate or so that we would know what features were more positively received or more negatively received. Now, there's a tool that I've used for about six years to do this exact thing. It's called reviews.ai. It's an insanely powerful tool, right now they scrape over 60 different websites, you can export all of your reviews and do deep analysis, you can do all sorts of run different reports within the tool, you can see reviews across tons of different websites for the same product and one data set, like it is my tool of choice for all things review analysis.

Jim: That's reviews.ai. you said?

Matt: reviews.ai.

Jim: Cool. That's, I'm gonna have to check that out, that sounds very, very useful.

Matt: Yep. It really is. And then we're onto the last, the fourth action item, the fourth thing you can do to leverage your reviews, and that's market with your reviews. So if we've done this right, you know, you've optimized everything from post purchase all the way to the top of your funnel, now you're trying to broadcast how awesome your product is, you're trying to get people to your listing, and when they get there, they're going to find curated content that manages expectations, that's informed by your reviews, they're gonna find reviews that are responded to strategically to increase trust and intent, they're going to get asked for review after their purchase in a strategic way, but we wanna get people to that experience on your listing, and we want to do that by letting your people who have reviewed your product get them there's a Yapo, a review management company, they did a study that Facebook ads with reviews would convert four times as much at half the cost, then like a traditional ad, like if you were to just say, buy our product or We're awesome or whatever. Yeah, and that's because people trust other people more than you, and the same type of principal spills over to all sorts of applications like on LinkedIn there's studies that say people believe what employees post more than the company and more than the CEO. It's because the employees on the inside, right? It's the same sort of thing. And so if you can incorporate your reviews into every type of ad, put it on your packaging, put it on email campaigns, put it on your billboards or wherever it is but one thing I would say is don't just put a picture of five stars, like I see a lot of companies do that, it's just, it's not real enough, it's like, yeah, we have five stars cause we put five stars on there, but it's not real. So the way that you can get past that is unless you, it's a digital ad placement where you can have your star rating update live, you can say things like 5,000 plus five star reviews, and that's always accurate even if you have more reviews, right? Or you could say like, you know, thousands of authentic reviews, read them here and you can direct people to where they can go read. Don't hide behind anything. Let people see their reviews, see your reviews for themselves, and that's where the conversion happens is when they decide that you're awesome because that's the conclusion they came to on your own, on their own from reading what other people have to say.

Jim: Now, do I have to go get the consent from whoever left that review before I share it with, like, if I was to use that and add, so to speak?

Matt: That's a fantastic question, Jim. It depends on the platform. So if the review is on Amazon, for example, you have to have legal consent from the person who left the review, which is basically impossible to determine because they're anonymous or you can try to get consent from Amazon directly and depending on how big of a seller you are, they may or may not let you do that, other platforms like Google does allow you to use reviews and quote them, they actually have tools within the Google My Business portal for you to make that easier for you to do, if there are reviews on your own website, then yes, you're the one collecting it, so you do have rights to do that, typically most comp companies in that space doing direct to consumer purchases on their own website, will use a tool like Yapo or Power Reviews, those are a couple that I really like and they help you with all of that like you have to have a checkbox consent in your review request flow to be able to use that. But yeah, the main thing is if you have any question, you should refer to FTC, current publications around everything related to endorsements, reviews, and those two topics.

Jim: That's great to know. So I know that was, I'm sure that's going through a lot of the Remote Start Nation minds like, Oh cool, I got this, can I just go post it? Right. Like, what do I do? So I have a question for you, do you have, with your system, do you see it work both with business to business type or and business to consumer or is this mainly for consumer reviews?

Matt: I've been able to consult quite a few different companies in different industries with both the, you know, the B to B application and the B to C business to consumer, business to business. And what I've found is it's all the same methodology, you're just dealing with slightly different variables. In fact, I've seen that the exact same approach using the review cycle for products, it applies to brand reviews and brand reputation, it also applies to employer reviews and employer reputation. For example, one of the companies I previously worked at, we were able to get several products optimized, review optimized, and number one, best selling in their category on several different sites from Amazon to Walmart to group on, and a whole bunch of others. We were able to do the same thing with Glassdoor and get the company ranked top 10 best place to work. Our first year that we won award, we ranked eight, this was at Malo, we ranked eighth best place to work out of over a million employers on Glassdoor and in my book I talk about this exact thing, there's a subsection within each chapter, 3, 4, 5, and 6 for the employer application, it's slightly different when you're talking about getting reviews from employees and how to respond to those reviews, there's just some different nuances, but the roots approach is the same.

Jim: That's great to know. Thank you. So Matt, let's talk a little bit about your book some more like if, where, if anybody listening right now, where can they find your book and also not just your book, but for the businesses that don't wanna do it on their own and they want help, they love what you're saying, they love the, they know they have reviews, they just need to know the, you know, how to manage them properly, how do they find you? How do they go about reaching out and connecting with you?

Matt: Yeah, so the book itself is available on several different sites, it's on Amazon, it's on target.com, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads.com there's, those are the top ones, and then the website is thereview cycle.com, just like the book name. And right now, I mean this is pretty raw, Jim, I mean, I'm on the first day after leaving the company, so things are still evolving but I do have some contact request forms on the website, and I'm offering training, consulting, and outsource, you know, execution of these exact principles to optimize your reviews and your reputation, and I would definitely say checkout reviews.ai for anything product related, like, you can track all of your reviews there, it's literally just five bucks a month per product and cool. It is an, it's a game changer, like I don't think I could've done everything that I would've done on the product space without that tool.

Jim: All right, well, Remote Start Nation, you heard it here first, The Review Cycle, go get yourself a copy, reach out to Matt, if you have any other questions, I know you can reach him on LinkedIn as well and be happy to get back to you, and Matt, I wish you the best in your new venture and I know we'll be talking further and this is an open invite, I'd like to have you back at a further time down the road and get, give it everybody an update on how you're doing and you know anything new that's happening in your life.

Matt: Thanks Jim, and it's been a pleasure. Shout out to Remote Start Nation, you got this.

Jim: Awesome. Thank you so much. Remote Start Nation, I hope you learned as much as I did today and can put some of what Matt shared with us today to work for you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you all for joining me on this journey as I help you to start your business, grow your brand, and to live your desired lifestyle.

Remember, leave a comment, subscribe and share this episode with your community who you think can learn from what you heard today. Until next time, go start something, start today and go build a lifestyle you desire by taking action.

 Until next time.

Jim DoyonProfile Photo

Jim Doyon


My name is Jim Doyon. I'm a father to three awesome kids, husband to an incredible wife and the oldest sibling to a large split family.I'm currently on a mission and I can't wait to share with you. We sold our house back in 2020, and we've been traveling this beautiful country in a 42-foot Travel trailer ever since. We visited 34 states, and are about to embark on our second loop around the country, stopping at some of our favorite spots again, but also getting to see new areas that the US has to offer.We are trying to experience this life to its fullest spending quality time together. I'm running a business and building brands along the road. We've been fortunate enough on this journey to meet new friends, catch up with old friends and family on many of our stops. We love exploring each City from downtown's to the natural resources it has to offer. I'm passionate about mountain biking and it's not only in my way to get out and explore but to exercise, clear my head, think, and strategize.

Matt R. VanceProfile Photo

Matt R. Vance

Author, The Review Cycle

Matt R. Vance is a social innovator and author of The Review Cycle. His work and research center around human behaviors, perceptions and experience design. He has built consumer and employee experience programs at multiple global organizations, including iFIT and Malouf Companies and has consulted a wide range of other organizations.

Matt lives in Logan with his wife and kids.