Marcus Sheridan has been sharing his thoughts on content marketing since before that phrase became the popular buzzword it is today. His new book, They Ask, You Answer, goes through the concept with plenty of detail and lots of examples.
Answering your target market’s questions
Part I of the book explains the basic concept: determine the questions your target market has about the goods and services you offer, and answer those questions at your website. This section also shares “The Big Five” — the types of questions people ask a lot on their path to purchase, but most websites choose not to answer.
Pricing, for example. The cost of knee surgery in Dallas can vary from $16,000 to $61,000, according to a study reported in the Washington Post. You know that people who are thinking about knee surgery want to know why there’s such a big difference. Yet a quick search for the answer to the question doesn’t turn up any Dallas surgeons or hospitals with the answer to that question on their websites.
Sheridan has found that being the surgeon who answers that question is a major advantage.
In some organizations, marketing and sales are in conflict. But having great answers to the questions that people ask your sales team is obviously useful for your sales team. The sales team can feed the questions to the marketing team and the marketing team can produce content that is useful to the sales team.
“Content,” says Sheridan, “is the greatest sales tool in the world today.” Sheridan knows about sales.
At this point, we probably all know that the sales process has been disrupted. If a sales team is part of your organization’s strategy, you know that consumers — whether that’s someone purchasing your fitness wearable through ecommerce or a hospital discussing your biowaste solutions in a lengthy process from trade show to approval for the purchase from the C suite — approach the process differently. A sales team that refuses to make that change along with their consumers is not a useful sales team.
Marcus Sheridan provides very practical guidance on how you can align content marketing with your sales process.
Making it happen
Sheridan is certainly right about the value of content marketing, and answering people’s questions is a great strategy. In Part III of this book, he recommends that you hire a full time content manager and get everyone in your organization to start producing content. Sheridan also says that of the thousands of organizations he has spoken with, very few have followed through on his method.
Those who have followed through have seen great results.
Sheridan also has a typical conversation with a marketing person or CEO who says, ” I think I can do at least some of this myself.”
“Well, to be frank,” Sheridan says to these people, “you can’t.”
He’s right. But I don’t think that a full time content marketing person is a realistic option for many smaller businesses, healthcare practices, and so forth. Hiring a company like Haden Interactive is much more cost-effective.
If you need greater clarity on content marketing and how it can work for you, this is a very readable, practical book on the subject.
I received a copy of this book for review. I was not paid for this review, and you know I always tell you the truth.