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Content Marketing Lessons from Marcus Sheridan
If you own a small business, you might not fully understand the benefits of blogging (and content marketing in general) for your company. No matter how far the content marketing revolution progresses, I feel like I still have to combat some people who are stuck on the idea that blogging is only something that angry teenage girls do. But what if I told you that it’s possible to generate $2 million in business off of a single blog post? Of course the actual figure will depend on your industry and what you’re selling—but that’s the figure that Marcus Sheridan—aka The Sales Lion—gave us for a blog post he wrote back when he worked at River Pools and Spas.
As content marketers, my coworker Alanna and I don’t always get a chance to break away from our keyboards during the work day, so we were excited to get the opportunity to see Marcus Sheridan speak at an IES&BD event in McLean, VA this morning. (It didn’t hurt that we hit up the nearby Olive Garden afterwards for some hardcore carbo-loading.) If you’re looking for the skinny on the presentation, keep reading. If you’re looking to feel skinny, don’t go to Olive Garden on your lunch break.
Answer Customers’ Questions
Marcus Sheridan’s golden rule is “they ask; you answer.” In case you were wondering, my golden rule is “never shave above the knee unless expecting company.” But that’s not really all that relevant here.
No matter what industry you are in—hvac, plumbing, remodeling, b2b software, or landscaping—or what customers you serve, those customers have problems and they are looking for answers for those problems—quickly. So I’m sure you can imagine where they go for their answers.
Here is where your opportunity lies. Think of one question that your prospective clients frequently ask you. The example that was passed around the most during the presentation today was cost. How much does your product or service cost? Now think about your website. Do you have content on your website that answers that question?
That’s how Marcus Sheridan was able to generate $2 million for River Pools and Spas–by answering the question “how much does a fiberglass pool cost” in a blog post on the company’s website. But that’s just the start. There are thousands (if not more) questions that your potential clients have about your products and services that you should answer on your website. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—Google doesn’t rank websites, it ranks Web pages. Each page on your website (including each blog post) represents a unique opportunity to rank for a keyword or keyphrase. When done right, more pages generate more rankings, which will ultimately lead to more traffic, more leads, and more sales for your business.
Where to Get Content Ideas
Making note of the questions your customers actually ask you is a good start, but there are a lot of other ways to get content ideas as well. For my clients, I’ll frequently use Google Analytics to get content ideas. One of my favorite tricks is to pull up my organic traffic using “Keyword” as the primary dimension and do an advanced search for how|what|where|why|when|can|how|do etc. This will filter the keywords to show question-focused search queries only. Alternatively, you can create a special advanced segment in Google Analytics to do this automatically for you!
Another way to get content ideas is to use Google’s Suggested Search feature. Start typing in a question related to your product or service and see what Google suggestions:
One thing that Marcus didn’t touch upon during his speech that I think is important—back when Marcus was doing content marketing for River Pools and Spas, practically nobody was doing it. In fact, it probably wasn’t even called content marketing. Since then, however, we’ve entered a content marketing revolution. Many companies are producing content faster than I can reach for a second (and third) breadstick at Olive Garden. It’s getting more competitive.
If you’re a late comer to the content marketing game, it’s arguably harder to get your content ranked on the first page–a lot of your customers’ questions may have already been answered by a competitor with more “Web authority.” And we all know that most searchers never go past the first page of search results.
I always recommend doing a quick Google search of your blog post title before publishing it. If someone else has already written a blog post with the exact same title, rephrase the question (or call us and we’ll help YOU become the authority). You’re more likely to rank, and therefore more likely to increase your Web traffic and leads.
As judged by some of my fellow speech attendees’ responses, many people have hesitations about sharing too much content (read: too many of their company’s “secrets”) online—especially when it comes to price. Can being too transparent actually make you lose customers to your competitors?
Marcus makes a good point here—the people you are going to lose were never your customer to begin with. By increasing your company’s transparency on your website, the leads that you get will actually be more qualified. Bonus? When those qualified leads do call you, you’ll find that your content has already done most (if not all) of the selling for you.
Another hesitation people have with content marketing is giving away their “secret sauce.” Essentially, they don’t want their competitors to know what they are doing. This is where Marcus’ idea of “The Triangle of Influence” comes in:
Most of the time, we’re too influenced by our competitors when making decisions about how to market our business. The problem with this type of thinking is that our competitors don’t pay our bills–our customers do. So don’t write with your competitors in mind; write with your customers in mind.
The Importance of Being Data Driven in Your Content Marketing Efforts
One last thing I want to add that Marcus didn’t talk about today is the importance of being data driven in your content marketing efforts. At Blue Corona, we believe that before you even begin creating a content marketing strategy, it’s vital to establish baseline data for your website. This will allow you to track exactly what types of content are driving the right kind of traffic to your website (traffic that converts into leads and sales!).
If you’re looking for data driven content marketing, give me a call. I’ll help establish your business as THE authority in your industry and market through high quality content. Alternatively, if you want to go to Olive Garden, I might be down for that, too.
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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