David “Rev” Ciancio serves as Director, Industry Insights for Yext, where he works to ensure customer success as they deploy the Yext Knowledge Engine on behalf of their businesses.
Over his 20+ year career, he has managed business development, digital marketing, and social media strategies for a wide range of entertainment and hospitality companies.
When not preaching the gospel of Digital Knowledge Management, you can find this expert burger taster discussing the virtues of what makes a truly great hamburger on his Instagram account, @revciancio and hospitality marketing tips on his blog, burgerconquest.com.
Learn More About Yext & Rev:
Meet Rev Ciancio
Phil Singleton: Hey Rev, welcome to the show.
Rev Ciancio: Phil, it’s a pleasure to be here, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity.
Phil Singleton: We read through your bio here and I want to just take a little bit of time at the beginning to just understand your story, tell us your first steps out of school, out of college, what have you, and what put you on the path to where you are today.
Rev Ciancio: Man, I grew up in Detroit and I desperately wanted to be in the music business, desperately. And I was obsessed with radio and with music and there just wasn’t enough of it happening in Michigan, and it was like, “All right, well, LA or New York?” And it was like, “Well, if somebody’s gonna say, ‘trust me’, I want them to mean it so I guess I’ll go to New York.” And I got a job out here with a very small agency that no longer exists, doing radio promotions so I was calling radio stations around the country and getting them to play heavy metal bands, it was really cool. I moved out here for $17 thousand dollar salary, it was crazy.
Man, misadventures. But anyway, I did that, I was in the music business for about 11 years. I was a serial agency owner, I owned a couple different agencies hopping around. And then one day I was just like, “Man, I hate music. I hate it.” I was like, “I can’t be around it, I can’t do it. I can’t figure out how to make money in it anymore.” This is after downloads and at the time, I’d also opened a bar which is like another college dream is to, “Oh man, we should own a bar, that would be so cool.” Just like, “I should be in the music business, it’s gonna be so cool.” Boy man, the things I thought when I was a kid. Anyway, I went on this-
Phil Singleton: All of us, right?
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, totally. I own this bar and I had started to take some of the skill sets that I had learned running an agency and entertainment business and applying it to the bar and hospitality. And at the time, food bloggers didn’t really exist and influencers weren’t really a thing, social media was really just getting its feet wet, it certainly didn’t have the catchiness that it has now. Facebook timeline was still chronological, right, Instagram didn’t exist. And I was having traction understanding the hospitality universe and running this agency where I was working with artists. And restaurants started to call me and say, “Hey, can you do what you’re doing for your burger blog, for my restaurant?” And I realized, “Oh my god, there’s a crazy opportunity here to take all these things that I learned about brand building and building an audience and the catchiness of that, and apply those entertainment marketing tactics to restaurants. And I just immediately Segwayed my whole car into getting into that.
Much longer story shorter, I ended up working for a ground beef manufacturer for a number of years as the Director of Marketing, where I rolled right up to the CEO and basically I rebranded them from this multiple decade old family brand, to a brand that they were able to actually launch retail product. They saw about a 27% lift in sales the last year I was there, it was pretty cool. One of my main priorities thereafter we did this rebrand and relaunch, their customers were primarily restaurants and one of my primary functions was to provide a marketing consultancy service to their top customers. So, instead of paying an agency or paying a consultant, they could just call me and go, “What’s the best strategy for review and reputation management?” Or, “What kind of growth hack ideas do you have for Instagram?” Or, “How should we think about doing our Facebook targeting ads?”
Rolling Up His Sleeves and Doing Local SEO
I became this jack of all trades in the marketing area because what I would learn from one customer … and they were working with huge national brands and also those SMBs, and I took all of that and learned all of this really important information. And to tie this story together, I was like, “Wow, this could actually be its own business, this hospitality and marketing consultancy thing.”
As a former bar owner, I have had the pain points that their solution solves, so I knew the power of [Yext].
And you could probably guess what happened, I left, started that agency, and it was primarily like, “I’ll do digital knowledge management for you”, type agency. That’s not how I branded it and that’s not how I would brand it now, but that’s what it was. And I was super successful super quick, and the people at Yext, I was using their software to help my clients. They called me and they were like, “We haven’t had this happen in the history of the company, you seem pretty passionate about this. Would you be interested in hanging up the agency and coming here?” And I jumped at the chance.
I love Yext, I love what they do. As a former bar owner, I have had the pain points that their solution solves, so I knew the power of it. Then ultimately, at the end of the day, what I’m really passionate, other than pizza and rock and roll, is I like helping other businesses. It really does fuel me to get out of bed in the morning and I thought coming here would give me an amazing opportunity to really help all kinds of businesses just be better at what they do.
Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. Your first trip, your first gig out of Detroit was in New York and you’ve been there ever since, is that right?
Rev Ciancio: It was technically in Jersey, but yes.
Phil Singleton: Okay. Right, right. Close enough. You’re up in the area. That’s really awesome. I really do want to dig in a little bit into your personal experience, and you’re talking about the pain points, what’s going on, what challenges do people have in the hospitality industry and specifically restaurants. But before we get to that, a little more, I guess understanding or description of what Yext does. I’ve been working with Yext for years, a very powerful solution. Although I think I have probably narrow, more practical view of why it’s important to my clients and that is really from a google standpoint, getting the name, address, and phone number lined up across the internet. We all know in digital, this is really important, google ranking signal for trust and a lot of other different reasons, helps with your local rankings. From that perspective, it’s almost a no-brainer and very powerful, but I know it’s evolved and does a lot more than that now.
If you can help our audience understand what we mean by digital knowledge management and all the things that Yext can do beyond just maybe managing and making sure that you have consistency on the major directories across the internet?
What is Digital Knowledge Management?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. Let’s define digital knowledge, that’ll probably help since we’ve already dropped that bomb in here a few times. Digital knowledge is basically, it’s all the public facts about a business, like their name, their address, phone number, but even their hours of operation, their products, their services, if you’re a restaurant, your menu. Basically any information that lives online for a customer to look for and search, right? And therefore, digital knowledge management, then that’s the process by which you’re sourcing and managing all of that digital knowledge to make sure that it’s available for customers in those moments that matter.
So, when you talk about what does Yext do and how does it work, we’re witnessing this major platform shift out there, I’m sure you’re seeing it as well, the rise of these services like Siri, and Alexa, and Google Assistant that are build on AI and information servicing all over the internet. Well, it turns out for 20 years, how did the internet work? You put in a query and you got 10 blue links, organic search. And now what happens is you don’t get 10 blue links, you just get one answer, right? So if I said, “Hey Siri, best burger joint near me.” What’s gonna happen?
Siri: The highest rated one I found is McSandwich, which averages four and a half stars and is moderately priced. Want to try that one?
Rev Ciancio: There’s no web result there, there’s just an answer, right?
…how do any of these services know how to put that answer there? They’re getting it from something called a knowledge graph and the knowledge graph is essentially a brain-like database that all of these things have.
Phil Singleton: Right.
Rev Ciancio: How does that answer get there? How does Siri, or Google, or Waves, or any of these businesses … how do any of these services know how to put that answer there? They’re getting it from something called a knowledge graph and the knowledge graph is essentially a brain-like database that all of these things have. Whether it’s Yelp, or Facebook, or Siri, or Cortana, or Google Maps, or Apple Maps, the knowledge graph is this brain-like database that lives beneath them. That contains everything that they know about the world, including what they might know about a business. So, they service that answer based on that information.
Now, the difference is you can’t control the AI of the future and you can’t control the UI of the future, but you can control what these services know about your business.
Now, the difference is you can’t control the AI of the future and you can’t control the UI of the future, but you can control what these services know about your business. And that’s essentially digital knowledge management. We have a central repository, a software system, where you would put as the business owner, that information. Name, address, hours of operation, your menu, your services, your bio, literally anything that people want to know about your business. You put it into Yext, the knowledge engine, and then we power that all over the internet. We’re updating Facebook, Bing, Yellow pages, Google, My Business, and hundreds of other sites on your behalf so that you don’t have to do it. And so that information is perfect, literally everywhere.
Then once you’ve done that, which is sorta like getting off on the first level of the hotel, to get up to the penthouse, we have a whole back level system where you can manage your reputation, you can generate first party reviews, you could sentiment analysis inside of your rues that tells you what the customers actually think about your business. We have a competitive intelligence tool that’ll let you know … and Phil, this is awesome. We launched this tool where you can go in and you could say, “Okay, these are the five businesses that are my competitors.” So if you’re Subway, you’re like, “Oh, it’s gotta be Jersey Mikes and Quiznos.”, and whatever other sandwich brands are in your area.
In 100% of the cases where we’ve had a customer start to use that tool, they’ve never been correct about who their actual competitors are. Because we’re actually mining information, so if you feel like, “I’m going to eat at Five Guys today.” We’re like, “Oh, Phil likes Five Guys, he must like Burger King, and he must like Wendy’s.” If you then the next day search for a salad place, we know that, to Phil, Five Guys and the Salad Place are actually in competition for your business. It’s not that you happen to like burgers, I’m not saying you don’t, I’m just saying we see the truth. And so our information can actually tell a business who their real competitors are and then they can track how they’re performing in search based on their own keywords. See what I’m saying?
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Rev Ciancio: It gives you this really, really deep level of analytics that lets you think about your marketing.
Phil Singleton: That’s really awesome. The one thing to take it back a step, ’cause some people … you covered a lot of ground, there’s a lot of things that I think I picked up but maybe some people that are just trying to get their head around this a little bit, don’t really understand the fundamentals of how it works. And I’m gonna explain to you how I think it works and
I want you to tell me where I’m wrong.
Rev Ciancio: I love this conversation.
Phil Singleton: I think what ends up happening is, I’ve been in Yext many times and we populate and there’s a lot of rich information you put there, tons of stuff about your business. Like you’re saying, pictures, hours of operation, special offers, all sorts of stuff, that’s richer pretty much than anywhere else you would see maybe in a basic place where you would fill out information about yourself let’s say. But somehow, over the years, you guys have been able to develop relationships and almost direct API access to all the major places around the internet. So the power to me on Yext is, I go in there, literally update my stuff, click a button and update my information in this one place, and all of a sudden in the matter of, I don’t know, an hour, minutes, maybe 24 hours, all this stuff’s pushed out to the rest of the internet, and boom, everything’s really consistent. Now, is that true or false? Tell me that part where I got wrong or how even it works.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. We have a really rich set of APIs and robust workflows that connect into those systems. So, Apple Maps, Google, Bing, Yahoo, whatever, we have a direct connection, they open up their back door, we stick whatever our plug is in the back, and then we can update almost in real time in most places. So yeah, you definitely have that direct control.
Phil Singleton: And that’s really, I think one of the powers what you guys have in the back ’cause that’s what I think makes Yext unique in a lot of ways is you can’t go out and find another company really like Yext that has this ability to have this instant access into this many influential places where they can directly connect and update information like that. That’s really, really powerful.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. I believe in technical terms, that’s called a patent. But yes.
Phil Singleton: I mean, that really … and that’s one of the reasons, I don’t think people really realize or you talk about Yext, I think it’s just part of digital marketing now, it’s become a standard. I’ve told you, brought it up in conversations before, in our business it’s essentially a mandatory requirement ’cause it’s so important that people have this around the business. But it’s funny because Yext has been around a while in digital and it’s grown really fast and now it’s one of the true success stories in SaaS digital marketing place, you guys went public a year or two ago. It’s like a billion dollar company now? How many hundreds of employees? 500 employees or something like that.
Rev Ciancio: Definitely north of that.
Phil Singleton: And a true, true success story and I think a lot of that’s built on how powerful and how much value it brings to businesses, all businesses really. Talk about big businesses, I think need this. Small businesses especially need it. But the company’s a true, true success story. Let’s dig into a little bit about your personal experience and where you think … you’re in the hospitality and it’s like you were talking about the pain points, what opportunities and what things people are still missing today in that space because it seems like it’s almost hit or miss. You see some people in the hospitality, especially restaurants that are really nailing it, but there’s a ton of them that seem like they’re almost not doing anything. Can you speak to some of that? And what some of the things that you see and how a solution like Yext can help solve some of those problems pretty quickly?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. I’m gonna give you that through a story. Anybody that follows me on Instagram knows that I’m a bit of a food influencer and so I have a couple thousand followers or whatever. Restaurants and agencies will reach out to me and say, “Hey, will you come in to our other restaurant, take photos of the food we’re serving, share it with your audience?”, in hopes that the people that follow me are gonna take the recommendation that, “Hey, you saw this pizza from East Village Pizza that I posted last night, which by the way was awesome.” And then you’re gonna go to East Village Pizza and eat it, right? That’s the idea.
Well, I went to this event one night and there was 15 influencers there and it was a high end place, and they come out with 10 courses, top shelf liquor, it was amazing. And I’m doing the math and I’m like, “This is $150 bucks a person.” So multiply that, “That’s $3000 dollars they’re spending.” Plus the agency’s there, they spent all this money in hopes that we’re gonna attract these customers for them. I reached in my pocket, I pull out the Yext app, I do a location scan, their information is 94% in accurate, which means all that digital knowledge, like name, address, phone number isn’t correct everywhere on the web. In fact, it’s in correct.
I go over the publicist and I was like, “Hey, pull out your phone. I want you to open up a browser and search, ‘cocktail bar near me’.” Now, what you need to know is that for the last 10 minutes, they’ve had their mixologist present to us how important their cocktail program is, and just the Gideon’s Bible of Drinks. I’m like, “I get it, I get it. You’re a cocktail bar.” So she pulls it out and she goes, “Cocktail bar near me.” Now, Google knows where she is, they know she’s by this bar and guess what doesn’t come up in the three pack? That bar. So we click to expand-
Phil Singleton: Right in the bullseye, like swimming in it?
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. It’s like literally you can tell where we are, “Google, come on. We were leading you to the answer.” Anyway, she doesn’t get that answer, we remove the top three, we look at the top 20, it’s not in the top 20, we remove the 4.0 rating, it’s not even unrated. Literally, if you don’t search for that restaurant by its name, you’re not gonna go there. So, what do we call that? That’s a leaky budget because here they’re spending $3000 or $4000 dollars. Now, what if you see this beautiful branzino that I post a picture of and you’re like, “Oh, cocktail bar with branzino, open for happy hour in Tribeca.” And you do a real life search, and you don’t get that place, what was the point of all that effort? What was the point of all that money, right?
Phil Singleton: Totally.
Do you know what the half-life of a tweet is? It’s about five minutes. And the shelf life of a Facebook post is reported to be about five hours.
Rev Ciancio: To me, that’s what DKM is and that’s the problem that Yext solves. So I looked at her, and this is the funny joke, I was like, “You know it would cost you about $50 bucks a month to fix that.” Meanwhile you’re spending $3000 dollars to put branzino in our face. I mean, that’s what Yext does. It’s a background or a foundation to your marketing and look, I’m sure most of the people that are listening to this podcast are doing some level of social media. Do you know what the half-life of a tweet is?
Phil Singleton: Seconds? I don’t know. Minutes?
Rev Ciancio: It’s about five minutes. And the shelf life of a Facebook post is reported to be about five hours. So if you’re out there doing social media marketing for your business and you spent all this time, you have a photo shoot, and you have a link, and an ad, and I don’t know, whatever you’re doing for your business to promote it online. And you’ve put all this effort into it and then somebody goes to search it and they can’t find it, was that worth it?
Phil Singleton: It’s totally. I mean, I talk about this everyday to folks and I think some people think in this inbound world that we live in, they’ll preach and they’ll say, “Hey, some of this event marketing, trade shows, traditional media, radio, advertising, none of that stuff works. You should be doing all digital.” I don’t think that’s the case at all. I mean, I think stuff works really well and probably as good as it ever has. The problem is if you go out and create the demand, everybody comes back to the internet. So if you don’t have your ducks in a row in order to capture your own demand, it goes to the other cocktail bar you were just talking about, right?
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. Phil, I mean look, I am clearly a food influencer and half the text messages I get in the day are, “Hey, where should I go eat for burgers?” I’m almost my own search engine, but if somebody recommends something to me, I still go look it up myself.
Phil Singleton: Exactly.
Rev Ciancio: I still search it.
Phil Singleton: I don’t think anybody … I mean, the old days, any type of reference … I mean, referral marketing has changed. I think even to some extent, some influencer marketing has changed ’cause some people probably are a little bit skeptical and it’s like, “Okay. Rev said this but who knows if he’s getting paid or not. I believe he’s telling us the truth or whatever, but I’m still gonna look it up online, see what everybody else is saying.” It used to be in the old days, it’s like, I’d ask for my house, first time I bought a house or whatever, I asked my dad, “Who should I get for this or that?” And I would just do it. Or the pediatrician says, “Go to this place for your … go to this specialist for your doctor.” You would just do it. Not anymore. No matter what anybody says, everybody’s doing their own research and if you can’t find it, or if you don’t like their website, or if their reviews suck, you’re going somewhere else ’cause the power is in the searcher now. I mean, that’s-
Rev Ciancio: But let’s take that one step more, right? If we’re talking about a B to B model, we’re in the middle of the funnel. Even if we’re talking about going to get pizza, we’re in the middle of the funnel, we haven’t made the decision. Once you make the decision, the only way you’re gonna have confidence then is, “Well okay, you told me to go to this pizza place, now I’m gonna go.” But I might get in my car and I need directions, where does that information come from? Or I might need to call to make a reservation, how do I get that information? Even after you’ve made the decision, “Yes, I want to go to that business.” I still need digital knowledge, I still need the hours of operation, I still need the phone number, I still need directions.
Phil Singleton: Exactly. Tell me a little bit about … I know some of the things on your list here that we were talking about before is reputation management. How does the Yext solution fit into the reputation management strategy for business?
Rev Ciancio: Let’s talk about the importance of reputation management first, I think that’ll help answer the question. We’ll look at it just from a Google perspective, so in 2016 Google came out and said, “Okay, we’re gonna add a third factor into how we determine what answers come up in the map pack.” It used to just be distance and relevance, they added this third thing called-
Rev Ciancio: The map pack. It used to just be like distance relevance. They added this third thing called prominence. Okay? And prominence is basically your public reputation. What Google is saying there, is they are literally ranking businesses against each other for search results based on recent positive ratings and reviews. So, if you’re not managing your positive ratings or reviews, you’re risking not even coming up in search at, right? So, there’s that. Besides that, not only is there the SEO benefit to having good ratings or reviews, it informs customer decision. Like we just said, if you said, “Rev, you got to try this pizza joint,” and I go look up their ratings or reviews and everybody’s talking about how good the pizza is, that’s helped making my decision, right? That moves me down the funnel.
Thirdly, the other reason why reviews are important is they can also inform a business. If you’re like, “What’s the next thing I should do with my business?” Your customers might already be telling you. Just go read your reviews. The reviews have like a three-pronged approach in terms of why they’re important. But from my Yext perspective, what can you do to manage that? We have a fully baked dashboard that’s pulling in the reviews from all of those sites that we work with. TripAdvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, I don’t even remember them all. But they’re all in there. And then you can go in there and you can read them, you can respond to them, you can generate first party reviews, which are reviews that live on your website. So you can have your own review platform. You can look at them by star rating, you can look at them by location, you can look at them by sentiment.
And so, not only do you have the ability to manage them in Yext, but you have the ability to analyze them and come up with strategies that can help improve your business. And then, I’m sure you’ve seen this stat floating around on the internet. But every star rating increase that a business sees is worth approximately 5 to 9% in business. So, pretty valuable.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. To me, the holy grail of at least local is you’re showing up on search and you’ve got the social proof via reviews. And once you have those two things, man the phone usually ends up ringing like it never has before. So, preaching to the choir there. That’s the one thing.
The thing is, with reviews, which is … I think, and I’d like to hear your opinion on this. I look at it and I think, “Man, reviews are really actually pretty rare.” Because if you look at it a business that ends up getting them, you see a bit local business that has 100 or 200 or even 500 reviews, or a restaurant that’s got a lot of them. It’s still only like a tiny fraction of the actual transactions or clients that they’ve had over a period, right?
Rev Ciancio: Oh, truly.
Phil Singleton: So, having some type of way where you’re easily found, or some type of a system where you can actually collect them or something. [inaudible 00:23:38] well like they incentivize people that are going to be jealous have to be proactive. Because to me, the whole systems really kind of geared for negative reviews in some ways. People aren’t really incentivized to leave positive reviews unless that’s their thing. But if they’re ticked off, they’re going to have all sorts of incentive right to bash stuff. So, I think reviews are really rare, but the fact that they’re so rare makes them so valuable.
It’s really funny. It’s like in our own businesses, we don’t go out, I think enough to say we really need to be doing this and committing to this and committing to our local online presence, this kind of stuff. Yet, it’s like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, right? When we go out and buy stuff on Amazon or we go look for a new hospital, a place to eat or something, we’re look at reviews. That’s all we do, all of us, right? So, give us some ways that you can motivate a small business owner and the things that they could do maybe on a budget, big bang for the buck to kind of help them either take the first steps forward or solve some of these problems?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. You’re definitely right. The majority of people that would be willing to leave a review for business don’t, and that’s because businesses aren’t either asking for them or giving a signal. Look, are you a parent?
Phil Singleton: Yes.
Rev Ciancio: So, I have a two-year-old, right? I look at it the same way. My kid is not going to say thanks to his mom every time she does something nice, but if I go, “Jack, why do you say thank you to mommy?” He’ll say it. You know what I mean? It’s not any different doing reviews for your business. But some ways that you can sort of get more reviews out of your customers is A, you can ask. There are some rules and regulations around that. Google and Yelp have some governance around how you can ask.
But some ways that you can ask is, if you’re a business owner and you’re responding to reviews, that’s part of what you do, and you’re responding, positive, negative, doesn’t matter. As another customer, if I see that somebody in the business is responding, I’m more likely to leave a review. There’s a stat out there and I don’t remember when it is. But people who see that the businesses responding are more likely, because A, they want to re-responded to because it feels good, right? But also, they know it shows a signal that somebody in the business really cares. That’s number one. That’s for me, ground level.
But some other ways you can do it, you can take your social media ID. You can say on Facebook, like, “Hey, people love us on Yelp. Here’s our Yelp link.” Or, you could write a blog post on your business, like, “Hey, we really value reviews and this is what reviews mean to us.” And so, you’re not saying give me a review, you’re just sending a signal to your customers that, “Hey, I care about reviews and these are the sites I care about.” Or, you could do something as simple as, Phil comes into my pizza shop and says, “Man, this is the best darn Stromboli I ever ate. I wish I could have when every morning underneath my pillow when I wake up.” I can take that review and share it to a different format and go, “Hey, check out what Phil says about our Stromboli.”
So, there are ways to tell your customers that reviews are important to you without having to ask for them.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Before I ask … Bringing back the comic, I’m going to ask you something about another passion of yours, which is burgerconquest.com. To me, I don’t know how much you guys can get into this or talk to about it, but I think it’s clear to me that when somebody uses Yext and goes into their panel and really thoughtfully fills out all the information to the fullest, to the extent and makes it as accurate as possible, that there does almost always seem to be some local ranking or local visibility effect.
I don’t know how much you can speak to that or if there’s any type of stats that you have on it. But to me, it’s pretty clear. I don’t have like a mos.com budget where I can go and say, “I applied Yext to 100 different companies in the average local visibility ranking or local rankings went up X percent,” type of thing. And you guys, I don’t know what you can speak to, but I’d love to hear any comments you have on it. Because I think it’s pretty clear that when people set it up and set it up right, that they almost always get some type of local ranking benefit. Is that something you can talk to or not?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. So, there’s no average number or no guaranteed result. Because it’s all different, right?
Phil Singleton: Right.
Rev Ciancio: Here’s the thing. In New York City, we’re I’m 23rd Madison. There are no joke, I’d have to count 15 restaurants alone just on our block. If you’re trying to score for best lunch and you’re using Yext, it’s going to be harder just because of the competition. Whereas, if you’re the pizza joint around the corner from my house, it is the only restaurant on that street, it’s going to be much easier.
So, we can’t guarantee a result because it’s a situational to that business. But there is without a doubt an SEO benefit to managing your DKM. It’s why we built this. Is we knew, hey, restaurants don’t know how to do this, or any business really doesn’t know how to do this. And there’s no tool exists that puts them in control of that information. And ultimately, what it comes down to is Google specifically and all the other intelligence services. They’re looking for a confidence signal. So, if I go in there and go, “Best pizza, Rutherford, New Jersey.” If Mr. Bruno’s, which is the best pizza in Rutherford, New Jersey, if they don’t have their information everywhere, it doesn’t give Google a confidence signal.
So, Google looks at Yelp and it looks at Bing and Yellow Pages and your website. And the Hours of operation are different on Mr. Bruno’s. And then they go look at Angelo’s Pizza. And Angelo’s Pizza has the same information everywhere. Well, which one is Google going to trust, right? Well, information looks correct everywhere on this one. That’s the answer I’m going to give to my customers. And then what happens over time, and this you can actually track inside of Yext is how strong is that signal of confidence? The more times that Google gets an answer that is pleasing to the person who’s searching the query, the more times it’s going to surface that answer. So, you build signal strength overtime. One of the ways that you can do that as with Yext.
Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. One of the things I’ve noticed too, and again, I don’t know if you can speak to this or not, but I noticed last year that when you go into the Yext panel, and you fill out the complete form, and you actually offer a special offer promotion link and a separate link under your website, and about 30% of the listings up in there in the power listings pack, you end up getting something really special that you don’t get if you don’t use it. That is an actual standard link versus a no follow link.
So, I thought that it for my … I don’t know if that’s changed, by I do see this quite a bit where on some of the directories you get listed on, I don’t know if this is because you guys have some special API access, and you be able to put more rich data in and that’s something that doesn’t come with like a paid listing, whatever. But for sure, I’ve noticed that. Because I would tell all our clients to do this, when you go in, make sure that we fill in, have some kind of a special offer, because it seems like you get a little extra benefit from some of these sites when you have it. Any comments on that, or is that just kind of one of these little SEO hacks I think that I found?
Rev Ciancio: I don’t know that there’s aggregated data to give you what that looks like over a series of time or businesses. But I’m going to come at it a different direction. If you have a tool and we give you access to update it, you should update it, because there’s a reason why that publisher has it, right? Google doesn’t have the featured message that I think you’re talking about, but Yahoo does. And Yahoo has users and people use Yahoo. And so, if I look up on a business-
Phil Singleton: And Google crawls Yahoo.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, exactly. If I go to Yahoo to find the tacos I want for dinner, and I see, “Hey, make sure you try our new Teresa Potato egg breakfast taco.” Well, you had my attention, because I was looking you up anyway. You might as well promote to me while you have my attention. By the way, I would totally go for Teresa egg taco, but that’s a whole other story. But yeah, there’s definitely a benefit to that.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Let’s bring it back. Because I could literally talk to you all day on this kind of stuff. Talking shop, talking about how important it is.
Rev Ciancio: Me too.
Phil Singleton: I still think at the end of the day, it seems like it’s one of these things where it’s out there and people know about it. But at the end of the day, so many businesses I think, still need help. So many businesses don’t … As many customers as Yext, it’s really probably only a small percentage of the total small businesses in the country, right? Which tells me that there’s so many businesses out there that need help and aren’t even doing the basics. We see them every single day. They come into our small agency here in Kansas City. They’re not even doing the basic stuff. They come in and even on their website, they still have the page titles like home, right? Some of them maybe don’t even have websites still. So, it’s pretty funny.
So, a huge opportunity here. People just come in. And Yext is one of those, really for the agency side, it’s one of those very awesome high value for the cost. Almost, I would say, puts it almost kind of in the quick win category. So, if you’re looking for a hack or a tip where you could go out and actually get something directly, any small business can go in and sign up for one of your packages. It’s really easy to log in and fill in your information. You can immediately solve tons of problems in a short period of time. So, if you’re looking for a special kind of a hack today, that’s it, man. Go to Yext and sign up for it because we couldn’t recommend it any more highly than we do. Like I said, [inaudible 00:32:55] get the top is it’s basically a mandatory third-party service that we put on all new clients that come in.
Rev Ciancio: Let me tell two stories here that I think will frame this up in a similar fashion. I left that well-paying job with the Ground B manufacturer to go start my consultancy, to basically, I’ll do Yext for you as the agency. I went in there with no customers, no leads, nothing. And I was building about 22 grand a month in 90 days. Why? Because I knew how powerful this was, and I knew what it could do. Ans a small business, they don’t have the time to think about this stuff. They don’t have the time to learn what you and I know. They are out there, whether they’re a retail shop, or it’s an attorney or a plumber or a pizza shop or an automotive place, whatever, they’re doing what they do. They’re bringing their trade or they’re bringing their service or they’re bringing their product, and they’re selling it to customers.
They don’t have the time. They’re too busy worrying about the actual business to do this stuff. And I was like, “Oh, I could figure this out real quick. I’m good at this.” As an agency, I was super successful because it’s solved real problems, it was easy for me to manage, and I could strategize on it and then serve a consultancy fee, right? But here’s where this comes from. Why did I know all that? Where did I learn all of that? I used to own a bar. I remember being on Avenue B between second and third, and thinking, “Holy smite, there are six other bars on this street, just on the street. Never mind there’s 25,000 bar licenses in New York City. How do I get customers here? I’m just on this street.” I was like, “Well, we may not be the most creative people, we may not have a famous chef, we might not have the best service, we might not have the cleanest floors, we might not have all these other things.” But I was like, “But we are better marketers. And we are smarter than all these people.”
Honest to God, Phil, we won at two things. We won at SEO and we won at ratings and reviews. We crushed it. We were like top 10 most checked in bar in New York City for like three years running on Foursquare.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Rev Ciancio: Because we were all agency guys that bought a bar.
Phil Singleton: You knew it. You put the effort in, right? Some of this stuff, if you just have the discipline to do it, it’s surprising how it can rack up, right? I think a lot of people still just kind of leave it and they just don’t do it. They don’t make it part of the routine. But you did it, right? And it paid off big time.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. Well, here’s the thing. But at the time, there was no Yext, right? I literally had to go to Yahoo and make an update. And then I had to go to Google and make an update. And then we would add something to our menu, and I’d have to go update our website. And then I’d have to go update Foursquare. And then I have to update Yelp. It would take-
Phil Singleton: No wonder. When you saw Yext, you were probably, “Oh my gosh. Here it is.”
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. It was like all I had to do is push a button.
Phil Singleton: Where were you?
Rev Ciancio: I think how much time I would have saved, and we probably would have had even better efforts than we gotten had I had something like this. So, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have born that agency, I wouldn’t be having this conversation had I not been a small business owner and I know the power of this. Because I had the hardest at a manual level.
Phil Singleton: Got you. That makes perfect sense why you’re so passionate about it. That’s where the fire comes from. You’re literally doing it yourself, but you also saw the power of what all that hard work does and now it’s like, dude, we’ve got this packaged up in a pretty affordable thing that’s accessible I think any business pretty much. It’s like people just knew about it.
I think it’s one of the problem with small businesses too, is they get pitched so many services, so much SEO snake oil. Buy this, they try stuff and it doesn’t work. They don’t always know which ones. Yeah, but this is one of those ones that just basically works for everybody. It’s so cost effective for the amount of value that it brings for a business. This is just kind of one of those no brainer things. But at the end of the day, like you said, guys are doing this. You look at the SAS chart from the martech collages they have, I’m sure Yext is in there. If you look at that thing that’s on a PowerPoint slide, there’s like 5000 logos on it now. If you look, that thing is passed around on LinkedIn, people just don’t know.
But that’s what I’m saying. That at this point, even as famous as Yext is in the space, like basically the unicorn, the category killer, still there’s not enough people that use it, I don’t think. If they did, like I said, this is kind of one of those no brainer kind of foundational fundamental marketing pieces that I think everybody should have, because it brings a massive amount of value for the cost.
We’re going to put all these links and stuff at the show here. I do want to ask you at the very end here now that we’re here. If I were to go to New York for a while … And it’s been a long time, I actually went to school in Connecticut Fairfield University. And I went to the city all the time, but this is going back like 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago. Tell me, if I was going to New York tomorrow for three days if was going to eat a burger a day, the places I have to go.
Rev Ciancio: Oh, man. Well, I’m glad you-
Phil Singleton: I’m putting you on the spot. It has to be. I know your mind is going crazy right now. But you have to pick three now.
Rev Ciancio: I’m just glad you didn’t say, “What’s your favorite burger?” Because I literally don’t have an answer for that question. I like all burgers, and they probably change on a weekly basis. I’ll tell you the burger I probably eat the most is a place called Schnippers. They have four or five locations here in the city. Now, I do love Schnippers, let’s not mistake that. They also have a location in the same building as Yext. So, the frequency is high because the proximity. So, best burger in near me, if we were doing a search would be Schnippers. If we were asking the Rev search engine, I really do like the Schnippers.
There’s another place here called Andrew’s Classic Roadside Hamburgers. He’s had a change of name a couple of times. It’s also been Hardtime Sundays. But it’s literally a stand in a food court just north of Grand Central. I love what he does. It’s awesome.
Phil Singleton: That sounds awesome.
Rev Ciancio: He’s taken like three rounds of patties, he’s smashing them on a season grill, serving him with some onions that have a special sauce he cooks the in.
Martin’s Potato Roll Cheese. That’s a super old school. It’s the way it should be. I do really really love those burgers. And then you know what? Honestly, the last answer probably changes on a weekly basis.
Phil Singleton: What’s this week? Tell me.
Rev Ciancio: There’s a place called San Matteo Pizzeria e Cucina. I need to back the story a little bit. It is one of my two favorite pizzas in New York City. I can’t get enough of it. And there’s certainly a lot of pizza.
Phil Singleton: A lot of pizza man.
Rev Ciancio: There’s certainly a lot of pizza here. But the pizza there’s phenomenal. It’s without a doubt, it’s my favorite pasta in New York City. The two reasons I go there primarily are pizza and pasta. One night, I’m in there, and Fabio, the owner and chef, he’s like, and has this thick Italian accent, “You know, we have burger.” I’m like, “Well, okay, I want to eat it.” He made it for me, and it was unbelievable.
Phil Singleton: You were like, “What?”
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. He’s using Piedmontese beef, which is the Italian style beef. Go look it up. It’s a really high-end animal. He’s using the special cheese, and he’s using special onions, and there’s really nothing like it. But it’s somewhere between a steakhouse burger and a really high-end chef gourmet burger.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. All right, let’s wrap this up and tell us best way to follow you, where we can find more information, about Yext. I also want to put the show link in for the … You guys have an awesome app that you mentioned. It’s probably more for agencies. But the location scanner, which I obviously have on my app right here, right now, where we can go get that. And in fact, give it to me after show, I will make sure that we got a link as long as it’s still available and still free.
Rev Ciancio: Oh, yeah. No, it’s definitely free and definitely available and it’s awesome. Just to tie that together for people that are listening, if you download the app, you can put your business in it, and it will tell you how inaccurate or accurate your listings are. But you can also put any business you want. So, your competitors, your best friends, whatever the business you happen to like. It also has a location scan. I should say that a different way. If you walk into a business, it knows where you are, and you could just pull it up from a list. You don’t have to type in any information. So, you want to check places on the go, I’m a nerd like that, I do, you could just open it up and pull and see how those businesses are doing.
Phil Singleton: So, we’ll say immediately your shortcomings are your own business. But that’s kind of cool. I hadn’t really ever used it for competitors. But that’s a great thing. It’s not just for agencies, it can be for anybody. That’s great.
Rev Ciancio: Well, if you’re an agency and your prospecting, it’s a great way to prospect.
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Rev Ciancio: Hey, Mr. business owner, look what I just saw. Information.
Phil Singleton: Exactly.
Rev Ciancio: But, yeah. You download that, it’s in Google Play, it’s definitely an iPhone as well.
Phil Singleton: Awesome.
Rev Ciancio: The best place to find out more about Yext is just yext.com, Y-E-X-T.com. If you want to ask me a question, I throw my email out there all the time. I really don’t care. I love talking to people. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org, R-E-V@yext.com. You can email me anything, I’m happy to answer questions. And then if you just want to consume gratuitous amounts of food porn, follow me on Instagram, it’s my screen name I’m @revciancio, but I’m also that screen name on everything. So, you go to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.
Phil Singleton: You get burgerconquest.com. I was looking at the site, are most of those pictures your own pictures or they’re just a bunch of stuff?
Rev Ciancio: No, they’re not. It’s almost all entirely mine.
Phil Singleton: Pictures, or are they just a bunch of stuff?
Rev Ciancio: No, it’s almost all entirely mine.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. There’s some really cool pictures on there.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, and then it’s sort the difference between my Instagram account and anybody else’s. If you just look at it, yeah, it’s burgers, pizza, steak, you know French fries, chicken sandwiches, but typically a couple times a week, I don’t just write, “Hey, go eat this burger. It was good.” I write marketing tips. So it might be like, “Hey, here’s what you need to think about if you want to be voice search ready.” Then it’s underneath a picture of pizza with pepperoni sliding off the sides.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. And those pictures on your site, it that just off a camera, or are you taking a big camera around your neck you’re taking out?
Rev Ciancio: No. It’s an iPhone. I will not upgrade to a DSLR. It’s not that I don’t love them, I’m just not a photographer, I don’t want to be a photographer.
Phil Singleton: Well, they look pretty awesome.
Rev Ciancio: I’m happy to do it on my phone.
Phil Singleton: All right, Rev. You’re the man. Really enjoyed talking with you. And hope to have you back. Because it feels like when you start to open things up, and there’s so many different things we could talk about, but this was a great episode with tons of knowledge bombs, and I’m sure our listeners are going to really enjoy this one. So thanks for coming on today.
Rev Ciancio: I appreciate. I know this almost became like a Yext commercial. And I hate that if somebody walked away thinking that. I truly am passionate about this solution. It really does what it’s doing. And for you and I to sit and talk about this, to me it’s no different than me and my best friend talking about our favorite movie.
Phil Singleton: Again if it weren’t, like I say, it’s basically a mandatory service. It’s so important that I think all businesses do this, and i hate, I don’t want to make this sound bad, but you guys essentially have cornered the market. You’re a category killer. You’re essentially almost a monopoly in this space, so that, I guess, has some good connotations and bad connotations. But, so does Google. So it’s just one of those things I think people need. If there’s something that’s that good, and it’s like that because you guys have set it up the right way and added that much value. I wouldn’t make it like an advertisement unless I truly thought, and there’s few tools out there that provide a monster amount of value for what you pay for them.
There’s other ones that you pay a lot for, and they don’t either do enough, or you under utilize them, or they give you a lot of information you don’t use. But this one truly is one of those things that you pay for and you don’t have to pay a lot and you get a ton of value off of it. So that why I don’t mind really highly recommending it. Because nobody’s going to go out there and buy this and then regret using it or not use it or not get some kind of benefit out of it. I’m not an affiliate marketer for you guys, or any other type of benefit other than they do this because it adds a tremendous amount of value.
I think the real hack there is, I mean there’s a lot of agencies out there that probably use Yext and either upsell it or upcharge it or do that kind of stuff, which is a normal thing for people to do, but any business owner that’s listening to this, you can go out there and buy this directly and manage it yourself. I mean, that’s where the knowledge piece of this is, is you can go sign up, and it’s really easy I think for anybody to go and pay for it. For me, I think of things that we do, I think it’s within just about anybody’s capability to sign up for this and actually fill up the information, as long as their going to take the initiative to maybe upload and take a couple pictures and figure out where their logo and stuff is. It’s not like you need coding knowledge to fill it out. You just need to be able to commit and put the time. In. It’s pretty easy. And maybe you and I are too far up and we think, but I think it’s really easy and anybody can use this.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, I mean, I played with Legos a lot as a kid, and the more I played with them, it felt like the harder it got to use them. And I couldn’t do it without an instruction manual, but this is like Duplo blocks, man. You just open it up, fill in information. It’s super easy.
Phil Singleton: Fill interesting blanks. I mean it’s like anything. Awesome really great stuff, and thanks for kind of pulling the curtains behind it a little bit and telling us how it works and why it’s so important. We all know voice is all coming up so the extent that you can get in early and maybe build up a lead, because you’re doing this stuff, more power to you. So thanks again, Rev.
…if you’re a business owner that’s super focused on actually running your business, and you know you need marketing and you have a budget, get an agency.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, here’s the last piece of advice I give if basically you just listen to this commercial for Yext and you’re considering it, here’s how I would look at it. If you’re a small business and you have a passion for marketing, or you have time in your day for marketing and you think you can manage this on your own because you’re managing other things. Yeah, sign up, get in there, do it. But if you’re a business owner that’s super focused on actually running your business, and you know you need marketing and you have a budget, get an agency. Because you probably need more than just this. You probably also need content or social or PPC, or Facebook ads. And let an agency mange this for you, and let it be part of your overall solution that you’re hiring them for. So call that agency and go, “Hey, do you have Yext? No? Get it, or I’m going to another agency.”
Phil Singleton: We’ll take the agency commercial. All right, man. Thanks a lot, Rev.
Rev Ciancio: Thank you.