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The Power of Content Marketing with Marcus Sheridan.
Episode 12215th June 2020 • Your Dream Business • Teresa Heath-Wareing
00:00:00 00:55:01

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In this week’s podcast we have the brilliant Marcus Sheridan who is the author of one of my favourite books – “They Ask, You Answer”. We are going to be talking about how this concept came about, why it is so important and how we can use this in our businesses going forward.

  • Make sure you are talking to your customer through your content. Show them what they want to see.
  • Don’t over-complicate your content.
  • Focus on the questions that your buyers want to know.
  • The 5 subjects customers research – price/cost, problems/negatives, comparisons, reviews/ratings and the best thing.
  • The mistake most companies make with their content, is to talk about answers that are not even in the buying funnel or they are the top of the funnel – you have to start at the bottom.
  • The questions at the bottom of your buying funnel are the questions you get asked all the time.
  • You should aim for 75% of your content to be focused on the 5 subjects that customers research.
  • Be brave with your content – you don’t have to follow the rules and worry about what your competitors are doing!
  • Teaching equates to trust. Trust equates to sales.
  • Be honest and transparent with your customers.
  • Over 80% of all people will not go to a restaurant if they don’t advertise their prices in their online menu.
  • Over half of people will not buy what is in their basket if they can’t find a discount code after seeing the code box.
  • When discussing pricing in your business, help your customer to understand the market place in general.
  • The more specific companies are in talking about cost and price, the better the results become – more leads.
  • Give your customers an educational experience.
Customers are unlikely to purchase the first time they see your product or service, but if you are helpful, supportive, answering questions and giving knowledge, they will take that and remember you to purchase in the future.
  • An Introduction to Marcus 02:06
  • Sales Initiative vs Marketing 09:22
  • Revenue from Action 17:15
  • Content Creation 20:23
  • Answering your Customer’s Questions 26:30
  • Being Brave with your Content 32:20
  • Being Honest with your Customers 36:30
  • Educational Resources 47:10
Transcript below


Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. How has your week been? I hope you've had a really good one. If you've been following me on Instagram, you'll see that my garden has been finished. If you're not fallowing me on Instagram, you might think, why am I talking about my garden? Well, basically, I have had some contractors in, and they have done my gardening, which is really exciting. And I've been putting on Instagram, and I got so much interaction that was wonderful. So I've been sharing the updates in there, and it was finished as I'm recording this, so a few days ago, by the time you get to listen to this. So, yeah, it's exciting stuff. So that's what I've been doing with my time. So I hope you've had a good week.

Anyway, this week we have a great interview for you. Now, you will know, because I've said it before, that one of my favourite books I've read for marketing is a book called They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. And I was so very lucky to be given some of Marcus' time in order to bring him onto the podcast, to talk about how this came about, why it's so important, and how we can use it in our businesses going forward every day.

But, honestly, if you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it because it gives you some really interesting ideas on the importance of content creation, and you know I go on about that all the time, but also about the types of things you want to address in your content creation. So I really recommend that you go and buy that book. It's a really good one. I'll link to it in the show notes.


An Introduction to Marcus


But let me tell you a little bit about Marcus. So Marcus is a sought-after international keynote speaker, and he's known for his unique ability to excite, engage, and motivate audiences. In 2017, Forbes named Marcus one of 20 speakers you don't want to miss. And he's being dubbed the web marketing guru by The New York times, and featured in Inc, The Globe Mail, Forbes, and more.

As the finder and president of the Sales Lion, which recently merged with IMPACT in 2018, Marcus has established one of the most successful digital sales and marketing agencies in the country. Within his speaking company, Marcus Sheridan International, Inc, he gives over 70 global keynotes annually. Well, he probably did before lockdown happened. And Mashable rated his book, They Ask You Answer, as the number one marketing book to read in 2017. Forbes has listed it as 11 marketing books that every CMO should read.

So, honestly, this guy wrote a book that kind of changed how we viewed content marketing. And I am so very honoured to be able to bring him to you, to the podcast, and be today's interview. So I hope you enjoy.

Okay. I am really, really excited to welcome today's guest to the podcast. Marcus Sheridan, welcome to the podcast.

Yeah, Teresa, it's a pleasure to be here. And hopefully, we'll have a fruitful conversation for our listeners today. So I'm excited about it.

I am really excited about it, because I think my listeners know I listen and read books all the time, and I always get something from there. But you know, when you just devour a book and go, yes, yes, and yes, and yes?


That's what I did for the entire thing. So to get you on to talk about it is just brilliant. But before we do, can you just give a little bit of an overview for my listeners in case they haven't heard from you before, just kind of who you are, and how you got to do what you're doing today?

Well, I started actually right out of university as a pool guy, believe it or not. I fell into a business in 2001 with two friends. And I didn't ever think I was going to sell swimming pools, but that's just how it ended up after school. And things were going okay until 2008 when the market crashed. It looked like we were going to lose our business, and I talked to three consultants at that time, they all said the same thing, "You should file bankruptcy, Marcus."

The issue though was, if I had done that, I'd lose my home, my two business partners would lose their homes, my 16 employees at the time would lose their jobs, so we had to figure out how to really get back over that edge. We didn't have much money, we didn't have any money, we didn't have any [inaudible 00:04:50] time for the most part. And it was a really, really scary time in my life. But it was during this period of time where I essentially dove into all of the stuff that you and I today know as inbound marketing, content marketing, social media.

And, for me, really, it started at HubSpot's site, and that's where it started to click for me. What I had in my simple just pool guy mind was, Marcus, if you just obsess over your customers questions, and you're willing to address them honestly and transparently, you might save your business.

And so that's what we did. I brainstormed every single question I had ever received from a customer about pools. And I said, I'm going to write an answer in an article or video format once a day, until I stop, right?

And to make a long story short, we ended up becoming what is essentially the Wikipedia of in-ground swimming pools here in the US. And today, it's the most traffic swimming pool website in the world. And we went on to have ... We were having so much success in terms of lead generation, and our brand became so national in many ways that we started manufacturing fibreglass pool shells as well.

So, today, we have fibreglass pool, [inaudible 00:06:06] river pools dealers, franchisees now, it's a franchise now, all over the country. We have dealers everywhere. We're was the fastest growing manufacturer in the US. And so that's been one major section of my life, and it's all because of the crash of 2008.

The other side of that, because what was happening, I started to write about it personally, like here's some things that I'm doing, these are working pretty cool. I figured everybody should know this stuff. And it turns out that I was doing stuff that just people had done. But they were obvious to me, this philosophy of They Ask You Answer led me to the 1000 mindset, I was like, I'm going to answer every question. But if you actually lean into that, you're doing stuff that's innovative, it's all get out.

And so I started writing about it. And then suddenly, I had events say, "Could you share that at our events?" Somebody would say, "Could you teach me how to do that?" So that led to demand to build out a consulting company, which has today become IMPACT, which is a almost 70-person firm in the US digital sales and marketing. So I have that and couple partners there.

And then I have a speaking company, and that's really what I do full time when we're not suffering from pandemics. And so, I have given about 60, 70 keynotes a year really just all over the world, the last 7, 8 years, something like that now. And it's really been amazing. It's been the most amazing ride, but all because of the crash of 2008.

I mean, that story is phenomenal in so many ways. That, first off, you said you went into it straight from university.


Because when you read, it almost feels like it was such a long time ago. It almost feels like you must be double the age you are because it feels like so much happened. So the fact that you went straight into business from university is kind of one thing, because that is a big scary thing to do. Was that always your intention? Did you always know, I'm going to run my-

No. And I certainly didn't know I was going to be a pool guy, right? Nobody grows up saying, "I want to be a pool guy," right?

Yeah, yeah.

I think that's extremely rare. What happened was, believe it or not, my two friends had started this company, and they had just signed a lease for a retail outlet where they could sell hot tubs and stuff. And I had graduated from university, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And they said, "Hey, we've got this thing." And I'm like, okay, I don't really want to do that. Because, again, who wants to be pool guy, right? And this was what was on my mind at the time. And I didn't realise that titles were actually quite overrated yet, but that you can ... It's not about so much the type of business that dictates your happiness, it is more of what can I do to make this special? And you want to grow something, right?

So that's what I realised, is I just wanted to grow something. But I didn't know that. I was their first employee, they asked me six months in to be a partner. So that's how we were the first [inaudible 00:09:21] essentially.

But I became a partner because I obsessed over learning about the stuff that I was selling. I'm like, well, I'm here, I'm going to learn about it. So quickly, I knew more about hot tubs than they did in terms of information. And I just dove into it like I do with most stuff, and they were impressed, and they wanted me to be a partner. And so that's how that happened.

And I didn't have any business schooling or anything like that. You know what you're ... I think one of the things I'm most grateful for is I didn't have any marketing schooling. I think marketing, especially in universities, screws people up big time. Not everybody, there's exceptions to this, but because it's moving so fast. I had never seen a university student read the book before, and I've had a bunch read the book because, thank goodness, I've now had professors find the book and start teaching it, and that's happening more commonly. But the ones that didn't have it in class, they were like, "I was never taught any of this stuff." And they're not. It's just not being taught.

It's really unfortunate because I think, if you look at the theme of the book, which is, be the best teacher in the world, lean into transparency, be willing to do, think like a buyer, and adjust to what your buyers want in terms of the way that you say it, and teach it, and sell it. That should be common sense, right? But it's very uncommon.

And that's the thing. And that's what's interesting, like you said, A, you haven't come from marketing background. So, for me, being in marketing, having a degree in marketing, which I totally agree with you, and I openly tell the world that what I sat in university for three years and learnt is nowhere near what I do today.


And to be fair, it wasn't the case the minute I left university, it was a very different world. But it's the sheer fact that I've kept up with the speed of change, and embraced everything, and never sat there and thought, I know all this, hence why I read all the time. So I think the fact that you hadn't come from marketing, and yet you picked up on a concept that as a marketer is very hard to sell to businesses.

It's very difficult.

So as a marketer, you can look at this concept, and see how amazing it is, and what it can do to try and then go into a company, and go, this is what you should do. That very resistant tip because there's lots of things that probably come up for them. So for you to sit there and think, you know what, this is a really good idea, and just effectively come up with it yourself, effectively just go, how could this benefit the business? And then just go and do it without coming from that background, I just think is absolutely insightful.

Well, I think that what's fascinating to me is, over the course of talking about this stuff over 10 years now, the number one email that I've received from readers, and listeners, and audience members, you would think would be, "Hey, Marcus, I'm on a business, and I need more traffic leads and sales." That's actually number two. Number one is from marketers who are frustrated in their organisation, and they're ready to leave because they feel like they catch a vision, but their cohorts, their peers, their sales manager, or the leadership team doesn't catch the vision. And so because of that, they want to leave. It's the number, one email that I've received. And I probably get a couple a week. It's really fascinating. So why is that happening?

I think there's a few different reasons why this is happening. But, ultimately, I really do for the most part blame marketers. And the reason for that is, I think we as marketers talk like marketers. And it's not until you learn to talk the language of sales, and the language of leadership, that you really start to get the ear of everybody else that you need to win within the organisation.

And again, this goes back to the way universities can mess us up, again, there's exceptions. But the reason why They Ask You Answer has just done so well as a book, it's because it wasn't written for marketers, and it doesn't have marketing speak, marketing lingo in it, right? So in other words, no business owner, I shouldn't say no, but very few get really pumped about content, right? They surely don't get pumped about marketing. What they get pumped about is if you say things like, so if you had a choice, would you like to be the most trusted voice in your space? When anybody thinks of a question they think of a need, that they think your company name, would you like that as a business owner? Everybody's going to say, yes.

If I go to a business owner and I say to them, "So do you think teaching, really teaching, really addressing your customer's questions needs, worries, concerns, do you think that's going to be fundamental to your business in 20 years?" Every single one's going to say, "Oh, absolutely." But if I said to them, "So do you think content marketing is going to be fundamental to your business in 20 years?" They're going to be like ... you're going to get this whole array of answers. And so that's part of the problem.

So when I teach or speak, I literally obsess over using as little marketing-isms as possible. And one other thing I'll say about this, I learned a long time ago that if you want to get something approved in business, you call it a sales initiative. If you want to get it rejected or tabled for later, you call it marketing.

That is such a good point. And when I think back two years ago, when I used to work in corporate world, I did marketing for Land Rover, and you'd barely be near the sales team. Whereas, now, when you think about how it should be, it's like, how on earth did we do our jobs, when we literally had no contact with the customer or very little contact with the customer? How did we even know what to say, or do, or how to connect to them? And how the world is now, and how all of that is almost mashed into one, and needs to come from the same common place, which is serving the customer, and listening to the customer, and hearing what they've got to say.

Yeah. So I think this is a really good point. Some of the most progressive companies that I've worked with when it comes to business mindset, they've literally said, "So we have a revenue team that consists of sales and marketing," right, individuals. And if you look too, at the way the buyer has changed, so much of the sale happens before they even you know them as a company, before the first handshake, etc. Then we have to make major adjustments for this whole, the 70% of the buy decision is made before they actually talk to the company.

So as part of that, I think the two responsibilities sets to be viewed is this, sales teams have to say, we are very responsible for the marketing side of the business, we are responsible to these subject matter experts, we are responsible to make sure that during that 70% when they're engaging us, but we don't know it, when they're vetting us digitally, that they get everything that they could possibly want to know, they could find everything they could possibly want to know, that nothing slows them down. There's no friction. We're not holding back on them. That's sales job, because they're the ones that have their ear to the ground, right? They're the ones that have all these questions.

Yeah, yeah.

They're supposed to be the best subject matter experts.

And then marketing's job though now has to evolve too. They can't be like they always were and be in the land of [inaudible 00:17:12]. They have to be responsible for revenue, for certain element of revenue, not all of the revenue, but they have to.

And marketers are notoriously underpaid. The reason why they're underpaid is because they don't show revenue. The moment you start showing revenue, you get raises. You just do. But if you don't show revenue, you can't expect for a CFO to come in and say, "You know what, you're just doing a great job, your campaigns are just so beautiful, your impressions are really great and wonderful." So you don't get raises off of impressions. That's not how it works, people. You should tie revenue back to campaigns. And when you do that, you win, right?

And so, the other thing about the book is, you notice in the book, I consistently say things like, so you should talk about cost and price in your website, and we did this one time, and here's how we did it. And here's the piece of content, and it generated over, now to that 10 million in sales or some stupid number now. But I always put a number




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