Are you answering questions?
Robin Powell gravatar avitar

Are you answering questions?

Author: Robin Powell | Posted on: 2 March 2017

Anyone in any doubt about the part that content marketing can play in driving business growth should read Marcus Sheridan’s story. Preferably read his book, They Ask You Answer, or at least listen to Marcus talking to Michael Stelzner on the Social Media Marketing podcast. Honestly, you will be glad you did.

Teachers, not salespeople

When the credit crunch struck in 2008, sales at Marcus’ swimming pool company, River Pools in Virginia, fell through the floor. Three different consultants advised him to file for bankruptcy. But Marcus knew that if he did, he and his business partners would lose their homes and their 16 employees would lose their jobs.

Marcus Sheridan, speaker and entrepreneur promoting the "they ask, you answer" content marketing philosophy

Marcus Sheridan

Determined to stay in business, Marcus researched the benefits of content marketing. He was so inspired by what he read, and the stories of firms for whom content marketing had transformed their fortunes, that he decided to build his entire business on a simple philosophy: “They ask, you answer.” He wanted to create a culture in which staff saw themselves as teachers and problem-solvers rather than salespeople. In short, he wanted the company’s website — and its blog, in particular — to become the go-to resource for anyone wanting to find out about buying, installing and maintaining a swimming pool.

He and his colleagues thought about all the questions that clients and potential clients asked them, made a list, and systematically produced a piece of content (primarily videos and articles) in response to every question.

No, it didn’t produce overnight results; content marketing doesn’t usually work like that. But, gradually, the more content they shared, the more their web traffic, engagement, and enquiries grew. Sales increased year on year, and River Pools is now one of the biggest and most profitable swimming pool companies in the United States.

Key takeaways

Here are some lessons from Marcus’s book that every company would benefit from taking on board:

  • Start seeing marketing spend not as an overhead but as a cost of sale;
  • Involve your sales teams, and management, in your content marketing;
  • Forget outdated hacks like link building and stuffing your copy with keywords;
  • Focus instead on providing content that people find genuinely useful and interesting;
  • Think about the client journey and create relevant content for every step;
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about price (you’ll put potential clients off if you don’t);
  • Don’t avoid elephants in the room — address clients’ fears and concerns; and
  • Provide social proof with plenty of testimonials and reviews.

Answering your customer's questions is key to content marketing

Finally, remember that, whatever business sector you’re in, your clients will always have questions. They want and need those questions answering. If you’re not answering them, they’ll go to someone who is.

Content marketing is, in essence, all about answering questions. If you’re not investing in it, how do you seriously expect your business to grow?


Author: Robin Powell

Robin Powell gravatar avitar
Robin spent 14 years with ITV Central, ITN and ITV Sport, and seven years as a freelance Reporter for Sky News and for The Politics Show on BBC1. He founded Ember Television in 2010 and has developed a specialist expertise in content marketing for the financial services sector. An Oxford graduate, Robin has studied with the Open Business School and was a Visiting Media Fellow at Duke University. https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=45830333&snapshotID=&authType=name&authToken=6sSD&ref=NUS&trk=NUS-body-member-name https://twitter.com/ember_robin https://plus.google.com/114307932267328112195/posts
Are you answering questions?

Blog

...

What is authentic marketing?

In this post, we explain the increasing importance of authenticity in marketing, and and provide three ways to make your business more authentic.

...

Which social media platforms are right for you?

The primary question to ask yourself about social media is where your audience is actually spending time. Which social media platforms are they on?

...

7 tips for building trust

Content marketing is about building trust. The more trustworthy you are as a business, the more likely people are to do business with you, and to remain clients of yours in the future.

...

6 top tips for creating a more engaging Twitter profile

We have outlined 6 tips to help you create a more engaging profile