Content Marketing: Where Do I Start?

When it comes to sales, content is key, and in many cases, quality content can even do the work of an actual salesperson, building trust and persuading customers to make purchases. Here Shweiki Media and David Reimherr team up with Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion to present on content marketing and how to begin using it effectively.

Content marketing is often referred to as different things, like online marketing, email marketing, blogging, etc.  If a company takes the time to answer questions from prospects and customers on its website through text or video, then the company will be successful. The Sales Lion philosophy and motto is “They ask, you answer,” and it changed the company forever.

They Ask, You Answer

Getting started with content marketing begins with understanding what it is and how to get going. The motto, “They ask, you answer,” is a great guide because it encourages a company to understandimportant questions like “How many questions has the company gotten over the years about what it sells or what the company does?” and “How many of these questions the company receives are answered on the website?” Chances are, with most companies, there are very few questions buyers frequently ask that are answered on the company website. This is where the work starts.

The first thing to do is to ask everybody from the company to write down the top five to ten most common questions customers might have. There can be some confusion and one will often get questions such as, “What time are you open?” However, if one can dig into it a little more, then one can learn what buyers really want.

One should consider the philosophy of “They ask, you answer.” If someone was considering a company’s product or they had a problem, then what questions would they be asking themselves? The questions consumers ask indicate how they will search online.

For example, Sheridan’s company sells fiberglass pools, so what are some of the questions consumers might have? One of the very first questions a consumer would have is “How much does it cost?” The consumer would go online and search “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” or “fiberglass pool cost” or “fiberglass pool pricing.” This is how an average consumer would search.

It does not matter if the question is good, bad or ugly. The only thing that matters is if it’s something the customer is asking. If the customer is asking this, then will the company be willing to become a part of the conversation? In regards to cost, one does not put up a price list but instead addresses what drives the cost of the product up or down and what the cost is in the industry.

That is just one question that consumers ask. Examples of other questions consumers asked about in the fiberglass pool example are “What is the difference between fiberglass pools and concrete pools?” and “What are the problem with fiberglass pools?” and “What is the best type of pool for a small backyard?” Therefore, consumers also want comparison and problem questions to be answered.

It is important for one to remember not to make the questions about them or the company directly. Nobody ever searches Google asking “What are your rates?” Instead, the average person asks for costs of a product. Therefore, companies should use words like “cost” in their content instead of “rates.” A marketing agency cannot really put cost on its website. However, they can talk about what is going into and what affects the cost.

One should think of cost from the consumer’s point of view. Whenever the average person goes online to research the cost of something and they are unable to find anything about it on a particular website, they get frustrated and move on to the next site. People will keep researching companies until they find a website that answers their questions. There is a very good chance that the company website that answers people’s questions is going to be the one getting the business. It’s important to remember that it is not putting the price on a website that scares consumers the most.

Companies are answering consumers’ questions more and more, meeting customers where they want to be met and obtaining their trust. If one doesn’t want to that is fine, but somebody in the industry will address these questions, own the conversation and generally win the consumer.

It’s Called a Blog, Not a Brag

Everyone gets tired of someone who is constantly talking about themselves. Therefore, it is very important that one remembers not to talk all about themselves or the company. It is a blog, not a place to brag.

When approaching digital marketing, companies should approach it from a teaching perspective, because the moment they try to sound intellectually superior, they will lose their audience’s trust.

Generating and Organizing Topic Ideas

One smart and effective way to generate good, weekly blog topic ideas within a team is to have a specific email address set aside, such as [email protected]. This way whenever someone on the sales team gets an idea throughout the week they can send it to this one email. Now the CMO’s inbox will not get blown up with mail and the marketing team can go into that list and create great content from it.

The size and scope of a company will determine how they should organize their content. A great way to organize content is by sorting questions from most important to least important. A company can do this by rating questions 1-3, with 1 meaning that this is an urgent question that is asked a lot and needs to be addressed immediately and 3 being it is not asked that frequently but still needs to be addressed soon.

With this rating system, content that has the greatest impact on sales is now being prioritized. Content is all about sales, producing leads and making people more qualified when they come to the company. Focus on what questions people are asking the most and start with those. One should start with the tough questions that are cost-related and indicate clearly when a consumer is ready to buy.

Content Producers

There are three major content producers in every company, and it is important to understand the role of each. Content producers of a company are the subject matter experts. These are the people who are actually smart enough to talk about something and then communicate it effectively in their own style.

The first type of content producer is the writer. Writers make up less than 10% of an organization, but they are extremely important because they create the text content. The second type is the sales people who are good with video content and conducting video interviews. The third type of content producers are those who are really good at talking about content but do not want to appear on a video, so they create audio recordings. The fourth type of content producer is not as common as the big three. They are the questionnaires who hear a lot of the questions customers ask. Normally, they are found in customer service.  The goal of marketing is to make salespeople look smart.

Expectations: Traffic, Leads and Sales

What are the realistic expectations or returns of a company after they have started using content marketing?  For one, sales teams become better at their jobs because they are communicating more clearly and effectively since they have to personally work on the content. Another way to measure success is when a company starts generating more traffic, leads and sales.

The biggest factor that dictates traffic, leads and sales is two-fold:

  1. What type of content is being produced? Is it based on core buyer-based questions?
  2. The rate at which content is being produced.

It is best to get started on content marketing as soon as possible to build it up. The rate of production should be consistent. Sheridan recommends producing at least three pieces of content a week. It should be buyer-centric, and in three to six months, a company should start to see results.

Agency vs. In-House Content Marketing

Whether or not one should hire an agency to do their content marketing is subjective. Agencies will get stuff done and produce results, but one will rarely see unbelievable results. This is because agencies work under restrictions.   In-house marketing can generate amazing results because they are not under the same restrictions and there is no contract preventing them from producing more content.

There is a direct correlation between quantity and quality and content marketing success. If a company has a lot of quality content, then they will find success.


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Marcus Sheridan

In 2001 and fresh out of college, Marcus Sheridan stumbled across his first business with two friends and began installing swimming pools out of the back of a beat-up pickup truck. 9 years later, and with the help of incredible innovations through inbound and content marketing, Sheridan’s company overcame the collapse of the housing market and became one of the largest pool installers in the US and currently has the most visited swimming pool web site in the world— With such success, in late 2009, Sheridan started his sales, marketing, and personal development blog—The Sales Lion, and has since grown The Sales Lion brand to be synonymous with inbound and content marketing excellence while being featured in multiple industry publications, including the New York Times where he was referred to as a “web marketing guru.” Today, when Sheridan is not giving riveting and passion-filled keynotes around the globe or consulting with businesses and brands, he generally finds himself on an adventure with his wife and 4 children.

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