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