Marcus Sheridan’s They Ask You Answer offers some seriously useful advice for marketers interested in content. And it’s an easy read. What makes They Ask You Answer a success is that the premise is simple: address the concerns of your customers. Addressing these concerns through content helps your bottom-line, something Sheridan proves in his book with great examples. Here are some of the points I found most valuable from They Ask You Answer.
See yourself as a customer first
Often, marketers are so caught up in their products that they forget what it’s like being a customer. It’s important to first think like a customer prior to developing any sort of content. When I want to buy a pair of blue jeans, I’ll browse through multiple retail store apps and websites. I purchase clothes sparingly. And when I do, I make sure to do my research.
What attracts me to one pair of jeans over another? Price is a big factor. The fit, too. Quality as well. Retailers who address these points succinctly make my life easier. If the price was missing, I’d move on to the next retailer’s page. The goal is to make customer centricity your mantra.
Create content that matters
Corporations should be wary of agencies that cheapen the value of content. Content is king, not a peasant. If a company is charging you $100 for a 1,000-word article, don’t expect any value from that piece. Content quality matters. Think about addressing customer needs and use that as ammo to create content in-house. Sheridan refers to The Big 5 pieces that could be used to develop articles that keep on giving.
The five content topics that jive most with customers are: Pricing and Costs, Problems, Versus and Comparisons, Reviews and Best in Class. Content categorized into these subjects resonates with both B2B and B2C companies. In both cases you’re dealing with red-blooded humans on the other end of the transaction who want their needs addressed.
Measure your success
Creating valuable content is important, but it needs to boost your bottom-line. This is where web analytics come in. Marketers need tools to measure the number of leads and conversions behind blogposts. HubSpot offers free online courses for those interested in the web analytics side of inbound marketing, which simply refers to attracting customers to your website instead of chasing them.
Sheridan says one article at his River Pools and Spa company brought in $3,000,000 in sales. It addressed a question that pool customers were asking: How much does a fiberglass pool cost? This article led to leads genuinely interested in purchasing fiberglass pools. “This single article saved my business,” Sheridan says. But that $3,000,000 figure comes from the use of analytics. Measuring what works in your content strategy is a necessity for marketers today.
Journalists make great content marketers
As a former journalist, I love this point! Many journalists are facing the axe as print readership dwindles. While that's tragic for newspapers, it's a boon for companies looking to tell their stories. Journalists have the skills to produce riveting content. They know how to ask the right questions during interviews and string together a great piece of content under tight deadlines. If you're looking to fulfill a content marketing role, hire an ex-journalist.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.