They ask, you answer

Bumped into this great book by Marcus Sheridan! Technically, I didn’t really bump into it. I’d heard Marcus on a podcast (can’t remember which one, but do check out his Mad Marketing podcast) in July last year and even bought the book… but I picked it up last week and when I’d finally finished it yesterday, I confess I felt like the world’s biggest idiot! His book They Ask You Answer is one of the best books on content marketing that I’ve read in the past couple of years.

If you’re into content marketing do check his book and his blog out. You’re welcome!

Here’s a skinny of what’s it’s about:

  1. 70 percent of the buying decisions are made before a prospect talks to the company (vendor/service provider). Which means, your responsibility is to make sure you have just the right answers to your prospect’s questions. The philosophy is pretty simple: what’s my customer thinking?
  2. It’s the worth the time and effort to brainstorm questions that are already in your prospect’s mind. How would you know? Well, these are the ones that often come up when you’re actually having a business development conversation and/or just describing the kind of business you’re into when you speak to an acquaintance or a friend. Let’s not forget Google Adwords. It’ll help you find not only your niche (which is what this link is about) but also give you a sense of queries that people want answers to. (Pay close attention to the long-tail keywords.)
  3. Have a teacher’s mindset. How would you explain what your product (your subject or topic) to your ideal customer (your student, the novice who’s keen to learn and grow)? The best way to approach this is to use a combination of teaching and problem-solving. For example, I can talk about leadership development in general and the problems it would solve to make the idea stick. Why’s that important? Because the customer is already thinking of these challenges.
  4. Every industry has hundreds (maybe even thousands) of questions about what potential customers would want to know. And when you become the teacher, trying your best to answer those questions, you can’t help it but become one of the authorities in the market or your chosen industry. Why? Because nobody else is doing it! (Even though everyone seems to be on the content marketing bandwagon!)
  5. Face the fears head-on by writing down your customers’ major objections. And try to answer them. As honestly as you can. Think if you can address or eliminate the objections. If not, that’s alright. Because going through this exercise will give you an advantage over your competitors as instead of defending your brand, you’ll just admit the flaws that you have. And guess what does that do? Build greater trust. Every organization, irrespective of its size and breadth, want to be a trusted organization.
  6. Your potential customers are most interested in the following topics: pricing/cost, problems, versus and comparisons, reviews and best in class. Almost everyone (including ourselves) obsess over these topics before considering a purchase.

And here’s the best response to the ultimate question — “why should I choose you”?

Well, to be completely frank with you, we may not be the best choice for you. We have been talking about your needs and your situation and describing what we can bring to the table to address those needs. You have also done this with other companies. You’ve seen their prices and you’ve seen ours. So, by now, you probably have a pretty good feel for things. So the question is, do you, based on what you’ve now heard, feel we are the best option for you?

Sheridan, Marcus. They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer (Kindle Locations 1560-1565). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

If you find any of this interesting, please do check out Marcus’ book (read a free chapter here). It is THE WAY TO GO if you’re serious about content marketing. Why? Because it’s simple.