How to Become An Expert For Industry Specific Review Management

Andrew McDermottAgency, Reputation Management, Review MarketingLeave a Comment

industry specific review management

What's the easiest way to sell review management?

You already know the answer. It's specialization. Industry specific review management gives you the ability to develop deep expertise on a particular industry or niche.

Why does that matter?

Competition. Most agencies and consultants are generalists, but the market is shifting towards specialization.


Clients are looking for deep expertise

Generalists are everywhere.

When clients hire a good generalist to handle their review management campaigns things go well. Generally. As long as they're able to get the kind of high quality reviews they need to make their campaigns perform. Easier said than done.

It's different with specialists.

Specialists attract a different level of customer zeal. They understand the industry or niche at a much deeper level so they're able to...

  • Draw out deep, in-depth responses from customers
  • Flush out conversion triggers (e.g. customer stories, emotion, and focus areas)
  • Quickly identify and isolate customer evangelists and cheerleaders
  • Amass a large volume of deep, in-depth reviews
  • Create review requests that encourage vulnerability
  • Get past a customer’s desire comply with the social contract and be “nice”

I know.

This may not sound like much but it's an incredible amount of impactful detail. It's the difference between a review that looks like this:

senad lawyer yelp review

And one that looks like this:

matj Yelp lawyer review

They're both reviews for the same attorney. See the difference between these two?

Obvious, right?

What's not as obvious is the reason or cause of these distinctions. There's a difference between generalists and specialists but it's not clear what it is.

The rise of the T-shaped specialist

The T-shaped specialist is powerful.

Specialists consistently outperform generalists and dabblers. They have a unique toolset and experiential resources available to them that others don't have.

These aren't ordinary specialists.

They're T-shaped specialists. A breed that's above and beyond both the generalist and specialist varieties. I suppose the most obvious question then is this.

What's a T-shaped specialist?

A T-shaped specialist is someone who is (a.) a generalist, highly skilled in a broad set of categories forming the top of the "T" and (b.) an expert or specialist with deep, precise knowledge in a specific industry, niche or category, forming the vertical leg of the "T." As an expert or specialist, they stand out as part of the top 1 percent in one specific area.

See the difference?

As professionals go, true T-shaped specialists are incredibly rare. There are lots of people who know how to get reviews from customers. Not very many know how to get customers to write reviews that 2x client revenues.

This is your chance.

T-shaped specialists know their industry

Do you?

The average professional is inclined to say yes. Ask them if they have a keen understanding of the reviews in their industry and they'll say "of course."

Is this true?

Not usually. Generalists and specialists tend to be one-sided. Ask them how reviews differ from one industry to another and you'll get blank stares.

But you need to know.

Here's how reviews differ from one industry to another.

· Prominence. Reviews play a greater role in certain industries than others. Hotels, restaurants and travel services rely more heavily on reviews than manufacturing and skilled trades. This doesn't mean they're unimportant in these industries. It means customers are more conditioned to search for reviews in these industries.

· Variance in priorities. Customers in one industry may feel that aesthetics are crucial while customers in another industry may not care at all. These priorities develop around culture. Cultures around people, individual organizations, specific locales and industries. T-shaped specialists are aware of these variances enabling them to quickly recognize and adapt to these specific cultures.

· Supplemental metrics like, verified purchase, validated reviewer, or current user provide you with additional data on customers. For example, verified purchase tells you a customer is writing a review based on their genuine thoughts and feelings.

· Validators and linguistic ticks. T-shaped specialists know their client's customers. They know the validators they look for and they're aware of the linguistic ticks used by specific customer communities. For example, If your client sells to vegans or specific mom communities you know what "Crunchy, DH or Co-sleeping" means. You know these moms buy organic, avoid BPA's and they typically vote Democrat. If you sell consumables, you know the first place they'll look is your ingredients list.

· Conversion focus. As a whole, reviews can confirm or derail a sale. When it comes to conversions, reviews aren't created equal. Some industries are sensitive to reviews. Others (e.g. attorneys, high priced consultants and established brands) are less affected by negative reviews, so long as sacred cows are respected. You'll need to identify (a.) which reviews drive conversions (b.) why they drive conversion (so you can reproduce it) and (c.) what specifically in these keystone reviews gives customers the impetus to act.

· Variance in values. "Profitability" is often perceived as a dirty word in the healthcare and non-profit industries. "Traditionalism" and "loyalty" are demonstrably important to southerners. Each industry and locale has its own set of rules, values and norms. T-shaped specialists speak to these ideals when they interact with customers. They learn the rules their audience follows and they abide by them.

The seems like a lot.

At first glance, it seems this is an overwhelming amount of data to keep track of. Do you really have to observe and monitor these data points to become an expert in a specific industry?


Because the data points that matter present themselves.

Let's look at a few industries.


ZocDoc Review from Kayleigh

The criteria for the healthcare industry is fairly straightforward. The obvious criteria is satisfaction overall, wait times and of course bedside manner.

What about the hidden criteria?

1. Verified patient reviews

2. Patient feels validated by doctor

3. Patient research and access to data

4. Facility aesthetics/cleanliness

5. Patient results

Why do these criteria matter?

They're details you can ask your client's patients about. Get detailed feedback on these obvious and hidden criteria and you'll quickly become an expert on what matters to reviewers.

Industry specific review sites to target

Home Services

HomeAdvisor Review

When comes to evaluating home services, your client's customers typically aren't the experts. It makes sense then that the evaluation criteria in these industry reviews are simple. The obvious criteria is quality, customer service, and value for the money.

What about the hidden criteria?

1. Contractor professionalism

2. Timeliness (completing projects on time and in-budget)

3. Customer expectations (met or exceeded)

4. Agreeableness (easy/pleasant to work with)

5. Keeping your word

HomeAdvisor Review 2

Reviewers confirmed each of the details mentioned in the past.

Industry specific review sites to target


dealer rater review

The obvious criteria? Customer service, quality of work, friendliness, pricing, overall experience, and "would you recommend."

What about the hidden criteria?

1. Smooth easy process

2. Timeliness (the purchase process fits promised timeframe)

3. No buyer's remorse

4. Being/feeling taken care of

5. Negotiating in good faith

6. Beginning with skepticism and apprehension

7. Not being taken advantage of

Industry specific review sites to target

Like it or not, the automotive industry has a reputation for duplicity. Customers arrive with fear, expectations and a feeling of impending disaster. T-shaped specialists study their client's reviewers. They absorb the lessons from their feedback.

Each of these industry specific review sites…

Have their own rules, norms, customers and expectations. It’s important that you learn (and follow) the rules for each site, in addition to review mainstays like Google, Facebook and Yelp.

Can you see what's happening?

These data points are customer driven! Customers outline what matters most to them in their online reviews. Wait a minute. How does this help you become a expert in a specific industry?

With directives.

It shows you where to direct your learning. You'll need to follow specific strategies if you want to achieve expert status.

But how?

Step #1: T-shaped specialists listen to ugly truths

They take in all of it.

Beautiful truths, ugly truths, uncommon truths, generic truths. They take a long hard look at their client's customers working continually to understand their perspective.

What does that mean?

They read:

  • The (good, bad, ugly) reviews customers leave their clients
  • The (good, bad, ugly) reviews customers leave their client’s competitors
  • Relevant discussion boards, Q&A sites, forum and blog posts, assessing industry sentiments
  • Search for customer desires, goals, fears, frustrations and problems

There's no judging, no condescension or contempt for the audience or the industry. Distance gives them objectivity so they're able to approach each topic as an outsider.

You should too.

Your goal at this point is learning. You're in evaluation mode.

  • Are customers suggesting that your client’s product is inferior to a competitor’s? Write it down.
  • Have reviews disclosed a competitive advantage or value proposition your client’s aren’t using? Save it.
  • Are specific concerns and objections coming up repeatedly? Recommend a solution.
  • Is demand decreasing? Is sentiment shifting negatively? Tell clients the kind truth.

They take everything in.

Step #2: T-shaped specialists accept reality as it is.

The truth can be painful.

It can be exciting, beautiful and ideal. But it can also be difficult, unpleasant and grim. You may discover that your clients have an adversarial relationship with their customers.

Or they don't get along.

Maybe customers have taken advantage of them. Maybe they have an ideal relationship with customers. Whatever the scenario, it's your job to uncover it and then to accept it.

  • Do your client badmouth their customers publicly? Own it.
  • Is your client’s review profile top heavy or lopsided? Outline it fully.
  • Are you losing revenue to a competitor that’s disrupted the industry? Prepare to respond or pivot.

This sounds like generic advice.

But it's actually quite the opposite. This is what makes T-shaped specialists so valuable. They're able to tell the kind truth. They're able to accept reality.

So what?

Clients often aren't always willing to accept reality as it is. If they're used to being comfortable or on top they're more prone to denial and far more likely to fight you. How do I know?

History tells us.

· Toys"R"Us ignored the shifting landscape and they went out of business

· Kodak created the world's first digital camera in 1975 but never let it see the light of day

· Woolworths, a 131 year old company with 30,000 employees closed in 2009 after failing to adapt to competition

Denial isn't just a big business mistake.

Made by large and small businesses. This is the problem you face as an expert. Your experience gives you the ability to see what's coming next. The trouble here is, if it's unpleasant, clients won't want to accept that reality.

You'll need to accomplish two things.

1. Accept your client's reality as-is

2. Get your clients to accept their reality as-is

This is key.

Doing this means your client's industry specific review management campaigns are far more likely to succeed.

Step #3: T-shaped specialists test/act on their learning

T-shaped specialists test.

They work to validate the lessons learned from reviewers. Whether it's a client or competitive review, T-shaped specialists validate and iterate.

They watch their analytics.

They ask questions and request feedback from customers. Why did you buy this product? What were your concerns coming in? What would have been a deal breaker for you?

Here's the thing.

Your learning and testing gives you the ability to verify that the data your client's customers are feeding you (via reviews) is accurate. That it's going to impact their bottom line directly.

This testing preserves your client relationship.

If reviewers are right, your client's conversion rate goes up. If reviewers are wrong, you figure it out before the damage is permanent. Your client's conversion rate still goes up.

Industry specific review management isn't about learning

It's about people.

Sure, you use learning to serve your clients and their customers. But at the end of the day, your focus is on one thing.

The customer.

What's the easiest way to sell review management? Specialization. Competition and globalism means generalists are fast becoming a commodity. The global market is shifting steadily towards specialization.

But specialization isn't enough.

Client's are looking for deep expertise. They're looking for T-shaped specialists. Professionals who are highly skilled in a broad set of categories but also have deep, precise knowledge in a specific industry.

That should be you.

Make the right moves and it will be you. You'll be part of an elite group, the 1 percent. The T-shaped professional who achieves what generalists and specialists can't.

Rapid growth via online reviews.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

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