What a Pool Salesman Taught Me About Content Marketing
Content marketing and pools are not typically topics that coincide in my mind. Personally, I associate content marketing with writing and my job, while pools go with summer and sunburns (yes, it happens even in the SF fog).
However, someone recommended that I read Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy by Marcus Sheridan. They informed me that Marcus Sheridan was a pool salesman who gave tons of speeches and had written multiple books about content marketing. When I heard the words “pool salesman” I was a little skeptical on how beneficial it would be in my B2B non-pharma marketing to doctors and hospitals/technology infrastructure world, but I gave it a read.
So, let’s just dive right in (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
What I Learned from a Pool Salesman About Content Marketing
Content and Inbound Marketing Can Change Everything
This is a pretty bold statement, but Sheridan backs it up with solid reasoning. Content marketing can change everything based on the simple fact that content generates site traffic which leads to business. It’s pretty hard to argue with that.
You can use content in a variety of ways to generate that potential business. You can use it to develop yourself as a thought leader or expert in your community. For Sheridan, that’s pools, for us, it’s non-pharma marketing to doctors and IT infrastructure. Although very different industries we both use content to develop our stance in our respective industries.
Content marketing generates 3Xs many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less.
What’s more, creating content isn’t about bragging. Instead, it is about teaching potential customers about your product or industry. You can do this by explaining how it adds additional value or solves a problem in their business (B2B) or their lives (B2C). Couple this process with some SEO strategy and you can generate some serious site traffic.
Customers Have Questions and We Have Answers
Think about how many times you have googled “how to _______?”. At that moment, you’re a prospective customer looking for some type of answer. Whether you’re looking for a physical product to help you or an idea of how to do something, we assume someone on the internet has the answer –you want your organization to be that “person”.
“No one knows more about my business than I do. No one can teach and talk about my service and products as I can.”
– Marcus Sheridan
Answering questions is a great way to get started with content marketing. It helps force a better understanding of your products amongst your employees. If you’re stuck on what to write, you could simply start with a list of your most commonly asked questions. Go through the list and find some strong keywords to associate with your questions (don’t forget about SEO) and then answer the question in detail. This can generate a high level of trust, which leads us to the next thing I learned from Sheridan…
Honesty is Key
This may seem obvious, but in many cases, businesses get so excited about potential new prospects from content marketing that they may stretch the truth to get more leads. You need to be honest about all aspects of your business from addressing product capabilities and deficiencies to pricing. Some people think that talking about pricing is a no-no but Sheridan highly recommends it. Although it is scary you should talk about it. It may turn some people away, but they want to know. Plus, since people search for this information regularly search engines really like accurate pricing information (helloooo SEO), and customers respect that honesty.
Tell the truth about the things you or your product does and doesn’t do. You may lose some business, but honesty is key.
One story that stood out to me, in particular, was one where Sheridan described how someone wanted a specific type of pool that he didn’t offer. He could have easily tried to convince them to purchase a different pool that he did offer to get that business. However, he understood what the customer wanted and that he simply didn’t offer the services they needed – and let that business go. That’s something that is hard to do, but in the long run, if you start making business commitments that are out of your scope your business may transform into something you never wanted to do in the first place. Or, if you don’t tell the truth about your offerings you could get a bad reputation – which can be more crippling than just losing a few sales.
Key takeaway: Being honest may mean you lose some prospects, but these are the wrong prospects anyways, they would have either not bought from you or have been disappointed (and therefore a pain in your ass) if they did.
It is always easy to come up with reasons why you shouldn’t do something. There is always the simple, “I just don’t feel like it.” But Sheridan explains how important it is to avoid excuses when it comes to content marketing. It’s easy to debunk a few of the most common excuses the Sheridan has heard throughout the years:
- “I’m too old and I don’t know how to run or post things on a blog.” It’s 2019, (or later depending on when you read this) and this is just a lame excuse. Running a blog no longer requires using clunky or complicated tools. It can be as simple as writing a word document, copying and pasting it into a platform, and hitting publish. If you’re looking for something that has a little more visual appeal, there are tons of online resources and step-by-step tutorials on how to do basically anything. The fact is if you want to stay relevant in your business you’re going to have to have some type of online presence – and a blog is a great way to beef up your website.
- “I don’t have time to write blog posts regularly.” Time is an easy excuse for everything. But, creating blog posts can be easy-peasy. As we mentioned before, your potential customers have questions and you have the answers. The inspiration for writing blog posts can come for basically anywhere, a customer interaction, frequently asked questions, etc. Plus, remember, running a blog doesn’t have to be a one-person job, and really shouldn’t be. Utilize your team to write blogs based on their unique expertise. If you have 5 employees and they each write one post a month, you can easily post once per week. Or, if you think that is too much to take on just post once a month. Consistency is key.
- “I don’t have the resources to keep up a blog.” This goes along with excuses one and two above. You may not think you have the resources but you do. Some simple google searches can help you resolve most questions about posting you may have and you can utilize your other team members as content resources.
Content Marketing is Hard
Content marketing is not always easy. It takes time, effort, and resources, but in the long run, you can reap huge benefits. Sheridan himself reinvented his business with content marketing and built an additional career for himself. If you feel like content marketing is something you want to do, but need support (and have a complex B2B solution) we can help. Or if you want to take on the challenge yourself:
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