On the previous episode I discussed the ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ and the importance of understanding the general principle that your prospects are going to make the majority of their decision making online before they contact you for the first time.
If you haven’t listened to the previous episode yet, head back and do that now, this episode follows on directly from this.
The next natural question that follows on from this is “OK Chris, I understand the Zero Moment of Truth, but where should we start with creating this content? What are the most popular questions? What kind of topics are going to drive traffic, leads, sales and ultimately profits?”
In other words, how do we get some structure around this? Where do we start with our strategy?
By the end of this episode you will have the methodology and you’ll be on your way to creating the content that will get you new customers and grow your business.
Ready? Let’s do it.
- They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan (Amazon UK)
- How does content marketing lead to sales
- Content marketing ROI
- How to do keyword research without using expensive keyword research tools
- Content marketing vs SEO: What’s the difference?
On the previous episode I discussed the Zero Moment of Truth and the importance of understanding the general principle that your prospects are going to make the majority of the decision making online before they contact you for the first time. If you haven’t listened to the previous episode yet, head back and do that now. This episode follows directly on from that episode. The link is in the show notes for you.
So let’s assume that you’ve already listened to Episode 129, you should be thinking differently about how your customers are behaving, and how this Zero Moment of Truth impacts the content you now create to grow your business.
In short, your content should help your prospects to make an educated buying decision. They aren’t searching for your product, service, or brand because they’ve never heard of you before, and understanding that your prospects are not in buying mode; they need help, not to be sold to.
And you should be thinking about the questions and the problems that your prospects have and be planning to create content that answers these questions and solves these problems, and creating content that is better that what is already available to your potential customers.
Hopefully, that has flipped your thinking and approach to content marketing. From this, you should already be thinking about what your prospects and potential customers are searching for and, hopefully, you’ve even taken steps to do some research. I’ve dropped some related podcasts and blogs into the show notes for you. One is on how to do keyword research without using expensive keyword research tools, and the other is content marketing versus SEO. What’s the difference? Those two are relevant if you want to go a little bit deeper, and there’s some other stuff in there as well for you.
The next natural question that follows on from Zero Moment of Truth and understanding the Zero Moment of Truth is, “Okay, Chris, I understand the Zero Moment of Truth, but where should we start with creating this content? What are the most popular questions? What kind of topics are going to drive traffic, leads, and sales, and ultimately profits? In other words, how do we get some structure around this? Where do we start with our strategy?
By the end of this episode, you will have the methodology and you’ll be on your way to creating content that will get you new customers and grow your business. Ready? Let’s do it.
But first, let’s go back 10 years or so, so back to 2008, and talk about Marcus Sheridan. Marcus Sheridan was a pool guy working as a director and partner at River Pools and Spas in Richmond, Virginia in the U.S. His main job at the time was on the road selling pools. He knows everything there is to know about in-ground pools. And 2008 was a year that Marcus will never forget. We all know what happened back in 2008, don’t we? Yep, you guessed it. It was a recession and the U.S. housing market collapsed. And take a guess at how people financed their in-ground pool. Yep, they financed the pool against their home.
So the customers started to default on their deposits and people started buying pools. This took River Pools and their competitors to the brink of disaster and bankruptcy. Every week they were getting closer and closer to closing down the business and at one point, Marcus thought he was going to have to sell his home, to keep the business alive.
This is when a dramatic change can happen for all of us, when your back is against the wall. And Marcus took massive action and started publishing his articles on their website that answered all the questions customers ask him. He took his on the road sales experience and the interactions that he had with his prospective customers and he started publishing this information for everyone free online.
This saved River Pools from bankruptcy and many of their competitors unfortunately had to close down. If you fast forward to today and River Pools is a thriving company with the highest trafficked website in their industry, and all because Marcus started answering his customers questions online. This sounds too simple right? Well the New York Times wrote about Marcus’s success and called this a revolutionary marketing strategy. Marcus coined this the “They Ask You Answer” philosophy, and he now speaks all over the world as a hugely successful international keynote speaker and remains a silent partner at River Pools.
Marcus also grew a seven figure marketing agency called The Sales Lion, and went on to sell this to a larger marketing agency and now mostly focuses on teaching from the stage.
He then wrote and published the “They Ask You Answer” book, which was released in 2007 and has been listed as one of the best content and digital marketing books of its time, and I’ve popped a link into the show notes for you so you can go ahead and get the book.
But why am I telling you all of this? Well firstly, I don’t want you to underestimate what is seemingly simple on the surface, and dismiss it as something that you shouldn’t be concerned with. You see, that’s one of Marcus’s gifts; to make things really simple. Secondly, I want you to see that by learning this you are literally skipping ten years of the work that Marcus has done for you. Marcus has done all the work and all you need to do is learn from him, just like what I’ve done and thousands of others.
So Marcus’s philosophy is “They Ask, You Answer.” In other words, do you see yourself as a teacher? Do you accept that it’s your responsibility to answer your customers questions and solve their problems? In fact, if you were to ask Marcus what content marketing is, he would say something like, “Content marketing is your company’s ability to be the best and most helpful teachers in the world.” Again, very simple approach to what content marketing is.
What Marcus has found over this time of saving River Pools, going on to create his own consultancy agency, writing the book and teaching this to literally thousands of business all over the world, is that there are essentially five big topic areas that will move the needle in every single industry. There are five areas that people are concerned with when they are looking for information to help them make an educated buying decision.
It works in B to B, it works in B to C, it works in all types of industry and enterprises. So hopefully, this gets across just how significant this is. I’m not making this stuff up; it’s tried, it’s tested and it’s proven to work in every industry. Naturally, Marcus calls this methodology, ” The Big 5.”
The Big 5 includes, price and cost, problems, reviews, comparison and versus and best of, best in class.
Just think about how you buy things today. What `information do you need to help you make an educated buying decision? My guess is that you always look at price, you’re comparing things, you’re looking at reviews and you’re doing your research. Am I right?
So here’s an overview of The Big 5 and your challenge here is to start creating good ideas for your Big 5 content. We’ve seen first hand, just how impactful in the short and especially in the long term, Big 5 content can be for your business. In short, this content, drives relevant traffic, your prospects and your potential customers, to your website and especially when they are in the Zero Moment of Truth. This is exactly the type of content that will drive traffic, leads and sales, for your business. So, let’s break it down.
Number one, price and cost. This isn’t about simply stating the price of a single product or service on your website. As consumers, we want to understand how pricing works in the specific area we are searching, from sheds through to IT services. What factors make the price go up, make the price down? How can we do it cheaper? Can we do it for free? Why’s it so expensive, why’s it so cheap? How long does it take which is also related to price. How to save money et cetera.
As a consumer, I want to know how far my money will go and what I should be expecting for my money. Before I chose who I want to buy from, I want to know that I’m making a good decision and I’m not being ripped off. In short, I want to feel confident and when I decide who I’m buying from, I know if I can trust them or not.
Now it might not be common practice to discuss price and cost in your industry, but those who do will be rewarded.
Number two, problems. Nothing breeds trust more than talking about the problems in your industry. No one is perfect and pretending to be perfect or the best makes people think that you’re trying to hide something. People aren’t stupid, and we’ve all had bad experiences with businesses and brands in the past, or we know someone that has. We call this, the elephant in the room. We all know the problem exists but no one is talking about it.
Is it possible for you to build trust with your prospects and customers by talking about the things that others aren’t prepared to discuss? Of course it is. Here’s some questions that you should ask yourself at this stage to help you create some content: why would someone not buy from you? What problems are common in your industry and how do you solve them? What frustrates you and your customers about your industry? In other words, what are the reasons and the objections people have about buying from companies just like yours? You’d likely be honest if someone asked you face-to-face, so what’s stopping you from publishing your answers about it?
Let’s get the problems out there, let’s talk openly about it, let’s own them, and as a result you will help your prospects understand what they can do to make sure they don’t have a bad experience whether they buy from you or not.
Third, reviews. Reviews are one of the most common areas of research for a consumer. We all use reviews to help us make a buying decision on everything from Amazon, to Trip Advisor to Money Supermarket; other people’s opinions and experiences hold a great deal of value for us. We don’t even know these people and yet what they say matters a lot. As a business owner and marketer, my question to you is this, why are you leaving reviews up to third-party companies and websites. As the expert in your industry, why are you not writing and publishing the reviews for your prospects?
Is it possible for you to write honest and unbiased review content to help your prospects and customers make more informed buying decisions? Of course it is. You should be doing it. Your audience want your expert thoughts and opinions.
The major mistake that most people make when it comes to reviews is that they forget that it must be unbiased. There’s no need to look smart or brag about your product or service. Lay it all out, the pros and the cons and then leave it up to the customer to make the best choice for them. It’s your job to educate, teach and advise, and at the end of the day, they’re gonna be on your website, reading the content.
Number four, comparisons and versus type content. Comparison websites are possibly the most visited website in the world. As consumers we’re obsessed with comparing things. Just think about the last thing you bought, you probably compare it against multiple competitors, using just some of the factors that we discussed here in the Big 5, price, cost, reviews, best.
Coming back to the core principles of content marketing, the Big 5 and They Ask You Answer, how can you be the most helpful in your industry? Listen to the questions and problems your prospects have and they will be asking you for your opinion on this versus that. That’s the article and the content you want to write. Record the video, publish it on your website.
And finally number five, best of, best in class. Similar to writing and publishing reviews, you will know what the best and worse products, services and companies and manufacturers are in your industry. You will know the good, the bad and the ugly of your space. You will know what makes a product or a service good, and what makes it poor. This is your opportunity to create the standard and draw a line in the sand.
So that’s an overview of the Big 5. Let me be clear. You won’t ever find yourself in a position saying ” The Big 5, oh yeah, we completed that already.” This isn’t a job or a task that needs to be completed. It’s a philosophy and a methodology; an approach to marketing. It’s never done. You don’t just publish one article for each of The Big 5 and you’re done. And once you get started, you will have hundreds of ideas.
The trick is to get super specific and think about your prospect’s natural line of questioning. You may also be thinking to yourself, ” Well Chris, I don’t think my prospects want more content; I don’t think people read or watch that much content before making a buying decision.” Well in that case, let’s go back to Google who have all the data about how we search, find and use content to make buying decisions. We can agree, that they have all the numbers right?
Late in 2017, Google released a new report stating that we’re officially in the era of the research obsessed consumer. The title says ” No Decision Is Too Small For Today’s Consumers.” And this is what the report says, an outline. And this is a quote. ” As we look at the search trends that defined 2017, one thing becomes clear, we’re officially in the era of the research obsessed consumer. With a smartphone in hand, people can get the answers they need to make the right purchase decision any time, any where. You can see this behavior clearly in search data. Mobile searches for best and reviews have grown in the past two years.”
Now this should make complete sense based on what I have just shared with you on The Big 5.” I mean what can I say, when people become aware they want to buy something, they do their research, and we’ve covered why that is in the previous podcast.
If we make a bad buying decision today, we’re just plain lazy. We have all the information at our fingertips. And this isn’t just exclusive for B to C products or high tech items. Everything from shampoo to salt to architects to IT services and swimming pools and everything in between.
So now that we’ve taken a walk through the Zero Moment of Truth, They Ask You Answer, and The Big 5, you should now have a good idea about how to be found online, when no one has heard of you before. And these are the kind of things that you should be thinking of. This is your challenge really, this is how I want you to move forward here.
The thing you should do next is to research the questions and the problems that your prospects are searching for online. Plan out the content you will create, with The Big 5 methodology, price, costs, problem, reviews, versus comparisons and best of best in class. Write and publish that content and be the best and most helpful teacher in your industry. But don’t hang about, get to work.
Don’t forget to check out the show notes for more resources, related blogs and podcasts and also a link to Marcus Sheridan’s book. Follow the path, do the learning and let’s do the work. If you’ve got any questions, thoughts or ideas you wanna share with me, you can tweet me at @Chrismarr101, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that you are enjoying your work.