Digital marketing has changed so much in recent years. But perhaps more important, so too has buyer behaviour.
With the power of search engines, we’ve seen a huge shift in how customers of both B2B and B2C businesses make their buying decision. Nowadays, they turn to the interest to do their research, and in fact, on average, 70% of the buying decision is now made before a customer even gets in touch with you!
That means it’s no longer possible for sales and marketing teams to work in isolation. Now, it’s your marketing’s responsibility to be answering questions. Ultimately, you want to use blog articles to build trust and influencing the buying decision.
So, if you’re on the fence about content marketing, this is the blog for you. In this blog, we’re going to dive into:
- An overview of “They ask, you answer”, and its use as a business philosophy
- The “Big 5” blog topics that can be used to generate a content strategy for generating leads and sales
The origins of They Ask, You Answer
“They Ask, You Answer” was created by Marcus Sheridan in 2008. Back then, Marcus worked for swimming pool company River Pools and Spas, where at the time the company was struggling as a result of the stock market crash.
Everything changed overnight. One day, business was booming. The next day, there were $250,000 losses and a business on the brink of financial destruction. Marcus knew that he needed to change tactic, and to move away from the reliance on “old-school” marketing tactics such as print advertising.
Instead, Marcus turned to Google to answer his questions. He recognised that it was time for River Pools and Spas to embrace the digital age, and began researching a number of new terms: Inbound marketing, content marketing, blog posts, article topics and so on.
Over his research, it became apparent that marketing was no longer about chasing customers. It was instead about attracting customers (inbound marketing) and use blog articles to answer customer questions (content marketing), so as to earn buyer trust.
That in essence, is the core principle of “They Ask, You Answer”.
How “They Ask, You Answer” applies to content marketing
The primary mistake businesses make in their approach to marketing is talking about themselves – The work we do, the results we’ve made, the reputation we have, and so on.
Instead, consumers want to be fed information that helps in answering questions they have. That’s why it’s important to think about “They Ask, You Answer” as a business philosophy. It’s about becoming obsessed with your audience, understanding how their searching, asking and yearning for information.
It’s about using content marketing to leverage yourself as an authority figure, to build trust, so that your sales teams don’t have to “sell”, and instead, your buyers turn up more informed, more educated and ready to buy from you.
Instead of marketing being a tactic, a job that a content manager fills, marketing instead becomes a culture, an obligation to answer customer questions of any and all types.
The “Big 5” blog topics that are guaranteed to increase leads and sales
If you’ve got this far into this blog post and haven’t purchased your copy of They Ask, You Answer, then take a five minute break and get it ordered!
In the book, and from his time at River Pools and Spas, Marcus and his team came across five types of blog articles that often outperform other pieces of content.
This is what has become known as the “Big 5”, the top blog articles topics that, when done right, will drive traffic, leads and sales for companies, whether you’re a B2B or B2C company. Those five topics are:
- Cost / Price
- “Best of” lists
What we’re going to do now is talk about these 5 blog article topics in more depth, and why they’re important topics to write about in your business.
1. Costs and price
When was the last time you find a product online you wanted to buy, but you couldn’t find the cost?
Furthermore, how did that make you feel? Confused, underwhelmed, unconfident?
That’s exactly how your consumer feels when they can’t find out the cost of working with you, because many companies tend to not discuss price on their website. Often, it comes down to:
- Our competitors will find out what we’re charging
- It might scare aware our audience before we can explain to them
- Our pricing is bespoke to each person.
Well here’s the thing, NOT talking about price, and answering questions on cost will actually drive MORE people away, because honesty is the key factor to building trust.
By embracing the first of the Big 5, you’re taking the opportunity to talk about the factors that influence costs, in order to have an honest, pricing conversation with your buyers.
With every product your business sells, it’s designed to solve a core problem for your audience. But most consumers will only be aware of the symptoms of those problems.
For instance, if you’re a dentistry clinic, one of the problems your audience might have is “wisdom tooth pain”. You can write an article around the signs of wisdom tooth pain, how to avoid it, when to seek help from a dentist, and so on. In short, you want to write blog articles aimed at the symptoms of their problems and inform them of their options.
But problem articles don’t just mean your audiences problems. Businesses should also talk about problems with your own solutions.
To use the dentistry example again, people might search for “problems with wisdom tool removal” because your solution might always be the right solution for them.
So, writing problems-based articles around the products you offer can be a great way of weeding out businesses who aren’t a fit for you, because you can use the content to set the record straight and reduce the number of prospects who aren’t a fit for you.
Consumers in their quest for information, love to compare products, to figure out which is best for them.
This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss the various options your audience has. Not only that, but you can discuss the pros and cons to each, how they might compare, and which ones are best for certain circumstances.
The key here is honesty. If you’re comparing your own product to someone else’s, mention that, so that they know if there is bias of any kind. The last thing you want is for your audience to find out about the bias after the fact, because that’ll lose the trust you’ve earnt so far.
4. “Best of” lists
Often when consumers are typing into Google, the word “best” or “top” will be in their search phrase. It’s one of the most common ways people search so that we can find out what’s best for us.
There are a couple of “Best of” article topics to pay attention to:
Your audience is bound to find out about your competition anyway. If they’re searching for a business of a certain kind, they’ll probably search for something like “best marketing agency near me”
Why not let them find out about them on your terms, with articles introducing them to the vendors. That way, they’re reading the information on your site and you have the first chance at converting them.
Best in class
This is one of the easiest blog articles to write, and can be done for every product you offer, whether its “best toothbrushes for wisdom teeth” of “best SEO tools for Shopify.” You can even substitute “best” for adjectives such as “easiest”, “quickest” and so on.
The final “best of” type is about teaching and showing people how they can get the best results from the products you offer. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to upsell on additional products.
Lastly, as buyers are searching for information and considering making a purchase, they want to see how others feel from making the same purchase.
If they find people raving about it, they’re more likely to buy.
If the reviews are mixed, then they might be more inclined to go elsewhere.
The trick is to write honest reviews of the products you sell (and products you don’t sell), as you’ll be able to better connect with prospects who are looking for help when making a purchase.
Which of the “Big 5” do you need to prioritise?
And there you have it: The Big 5 blog article topics that all businesses need to be writing about. If you master this, and commit to answering these critical questions, you’re setting your business up for more traffic, leads and ultimately, more sales.
You can order the book on Amazon, and we’d love to hear what you think, as well as the results your business sees. Head over to our diagnostic to see how your marketing is working so far and tell us how you’re getting on.
- Content marketing vs. SEO: How they work together, not separately
- 8 reasons not to cut your marketing budget during a crisis
- How much does Google Ads cost? Is it worth the investment?
- What’s the minimum marketing I need to do to get leads and sales?
- 3 tips for marketing during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020