Book Review – They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

 I recommend They Ask You Answer

  1. It provides a compelling and easy-to-understand argument for designing your entire business (agency) around what the customer wants to know. And answering all those questions to differentiate yourself from the competition. It can also be used as a filter to ensure you only talk to people who understand your position in the industry
  2. It is an extension of my #CustomerIsKing philosophy – I flatter my self to say that it takes my thinking (and that of people like Seth Godin and Bernadette Jiwa) and extends it
  3. It is written clearly and has enough Action Points and mini-Case Studies to keep you interested
  4. It doesn’t overly self-publicise
  5. It can be read quickly
  6. It is not patronising
  7. Written by an agency owner, he does have a poacher turned gamekeeper approach – he is coming from the side of the business owner rather than the agency owner
  8. Although most agency owners know that content strategy is a good thing, Sheridan is promoting what it says on the tin: They Ask You Answer
  9. If you want to persuade your agency clients that content is king, this will persuade them
  10. If you want to rethink your agency’s approach to marketing. This book will do it
  11. IMHO it will give most agency owners the push to ‘smoke their own dope’.

To me the biggest reason to read this book is to challenge you about your me-too, just-like-the-rest-of them website and customer proposition. Were you to fill your website (and marketing philosophy) with answering every question a customer might ask and using the viewing of content as a filter to sort the wheat from the chaff, then the quality of and success with leads would improve.

How the book breaks down

 Part One: A focus on how They Ask You Answer guides your inbound/content strategy

Part Two: How They Ask You Answer affects sales and how you sell

Part Three: implementation of the methodology/philosophy showing the who, what,, where, why, when, and how

Part Four: deep dive into the culture of using video

Part Five: how to create the perfect They Ask You Answer website

Part Six: the FAQs (of course!)

The author

MARCUS SHERIDAN is Founder and President of The Sales Lion, a coaching and consultancy firm synonymous with inbound and content marketing excellence. The Sales Lion is also a Platinum HubSpot Partner. Marcus is an award-winning speaker and named a “web marketing guru” by The New York Times.

The book blurb on Amazon

A revolutionary marketing strategy proven to drive sales and growth They Ask You Answer is a straightforward guide to fixing your current marketing strategy.

Regardless of your budget, you are almost certainly overspending on television, radio, and print ads, yet neglecting the number-one resource you have at your disposal: the Internet.

Content marketing is no longer about keyword-stuffing and link-building; in fact, using those tactics today gets your page shuffled to the bottom of the heap.

Quality content is the key to success, and you already have the ingredients in-house.

This book shows you how to structure an effective content strategy using the same proven principles that have revolutionized marketing for all types of businesses, across industries.

Author Marcus Sheridan’s pool company struggled after the housing collapse; today, they’re one of the largest pool installers in the U.S., turning away millions of dollars in business they simply cannot accommodate every year. How did he manage it? He answered questions.

This book shows you how Marcus’s strategy can work for your business, and how to use your keyboard to bring customers through the door.

* Boost your company’s web presence with methods that work

* Build a level of trust that generates customer evangelism

* Leverage your in-house resources to produce winning content

* Utilize tactics that work, regardless of industry or sector

When people have questions, they ask a search engine. If you have answers, the right content strategy will get them to the top of the search results and seen by millions of eyes every day.

 Drop the marketing-speak, stop “selling,” and start answering.

Be seen as an authority, not just another advertisement. They Ask You Answer describes a fresh approach to marketing and the beginning of big things for your business.

 What I took from the book

1          Become the most trusted voice in your industry

2          Listen, teach and problem-solve to earn buyers’ trust.

3          Job #1 for marketers is not to build the brand, but to educate customers.

Marketers need to become world-class listeners and teachers so they need to:

  • Earn trust through teaching.
  • Use great information to help others solve their problems.
  • Listen to customers’ questions and provide honest answers.

4          The Big Five Questions all clients ask

Answer every customer question with content online, even the Big 5 questions companies try to avoid, such as:

  • What’s the price and cost?
  • What are the problems and what could go wrong?
  • How does your product compare with competitors?
  • What do customers think about your work?
  • Who are your best competitors?

5          Why most companies avoid answering these questions

  • They worry about what competitors might do with the information. But your competitors already know about you.
  • They worry about scaring off customers with too high a price. But if your price scares off a buyer, that buyer’s a bad fit for your business anyway.
  • To make your content successful and your business happy, ignore the bad fits and competitors.

6          Obsess about what customers are thinking.

7          Don’t underestimate your customers’ willingness to consume content.

You need to present the content is a positive form, as the independent arbiter/authority and not as sales copy.

8          To create a content culture, take 4 steps:

  • Gain buy-in from top to bottom in your company.
  • Insource content by involving everybody in content creation.
  • Hire a content manager with strong journalism skills.
  • Use the right tools to measure success and prove ROI.

 9          Brainstorm every question customers ever asked. 

10        Use your content as a filter in the sales process

Sort the right from the wrong buyers by making them read/review your content before you meet up. sum up the book well in this Mind Map:

And in case, you are not convinced, here are the blurbs form the book cover

From the Inside Flap

They Ask, You Answer shows you how much today’s buyers have changed, and how you must evolve your sales and marketing if you want to reach them. If you’re ready to become the most trusted voice within your industry, and need a roadmap, then They Ask, You Answer can revolutionize your business. Marcus Sheridan knows, because he did it with his own small business–and created the #1 ranked website in his industry.

The story of how Marcus Sheridan saved his swimming pool company–River Pools and Spas–from the economic collapse of 2008 has been featured in multiple books, publications, and talks around the world, and today River Pools and Spas is one of the largest builders in the country.

The core reason Marcus’s company was able to achieve so much success came down to an incredibly simple, yet powerful transformational business approach–They Ask, You Answer.

By becoming the “Wikipedia” of pools, Marcus showed just how much impact honest, transparent content can have on today’s buyer and ultimately alter the sales process for good. With this success, Sheridan went on to become a world-renowned speaker and consultant on the subjects of digital sales, marketing and branding, helping other organizations, B2B and B2C, embrace their own form of They Ask, You Answer and just like River Pools and Spas, become the trusted voice of their industry.

Marcus explains the types of content necessary to produce incredible results, and includes case studies of companies that have embraced the principles of They Ask, You Answer–including the financial impact these practices had on their organizations.

From the Back Cover


They Ask, You Answer explains a simple approach to inbound marketing with an exceptional track record across many industries. How can a single approach to selling be so versatile? Simple–it’s all about the customer. All potential customers need answers along their way to making a purchase, and They Ask, You Answer shows you how to become the oracle in your industry.

Before Marcus Sheridan founded The Sales Lion to coach and consult on world-class communication strategies, he turned around a pool installation company on the edge of collapse during the 2008 financial crisisusing the methodology described in this book. He understood his customers’ problems and took the brave step to openly talk about them on his company’s website. Whether you’re a one-man sales team (like Marcus was) or managing a department, this resource gives you all the practical techniques and proven advice you need to develop a profitable inbound marketing strategy based on quality content. Along the way, examples and revealing case studies show you how companies are benefitting from these techniques. Without a marketing degree or computer expertise, you can immediately attract high-quality prospects into your internet sales funnel by:

  • Replacing outdated hacks like keyword stuffing and link building with genuine content that will be useful along the buyer’s journey
  • Getting buy-in from your organization and inspiring in-house experts to produce authoritative content
  • Raising your company’s digital profile and enabling delighted customers to tell others about their experience