“If you could eliminate all the concerns that the majority of your prospects have about you, what kind of impact would that have on your business?”
Last week, Marcus Sheridan paid a visit to our office to speak with business owners and executives from Vistage Minnesota. And we were lucky enough to join the conversation, which focused on one goal – to show businesses how to become the most trusted voice in any given industry.
The 4 Key Takeaways
Marcus Sheridan was “just a pool guy” before his metamorphose into speaker, consultant, and thought leader in the marketing industry. The philosophy that turned things around for his struggling pool business is simple: They ask, you answer.
Businesses are adopting this strategy to build trust with their prospects and generate more leads online. At the surface level it may seem idealistic, but learning how a single 800 word blog post generated $500,000.00 in revenue for River Pools and Spas is pretty compelling.
Here are the key takeaways and best practices that inspired and equipped local business owners to up their website game.
1. What does 70% have to do with the “Zero Moment of Truth”?
You may be familiar with this term coined by Google. The zero moment of truth is an online decision-making moment that Marcus defines as, “the first time a prospect contacts you and you know they exist.”
In a B2B study, Forrester research group found that today on average, 70% of the consumer’s buying decision is made before the zero moment of truth. Marcus added, “That’s before they call, before they contact you, before they walk into your office, and certainly before they talk to someone on your sales team.
So the question is, what does that mean for your business?
Well, if you're not providing consumers with the right information on your website, it means they’re bouncing. Fast.
If you're not resolving their concerns and answering their questions online, they're moving on to someone else who is.
Consumers are “vetting us to death” Marcus says, long before we’re aware of it. If that’s true, the impact of marketing on sales is more substantial than ever before. And because the data is likely to keep trending in that direction, the effort to unify sales and marketing teams is an escalating priority.
2. A quick way to know how in tune you are with your buyers.
Marcus led a brainstorming exercise to highlight the importance of knowing your customer.
“I want you to write down” he told us, “the top 7 reasons why somebody would not buy from you, assuming they know you exist”. In other words, “Hey, we really like you guys and we appreciate you giving us a quote, but we decided to go a different direction and here’s why.”
“If you struggled with this activity, what does that mean?”, he asked.
Marcus echoed back responses from the group.
“You don’t know your customers.”
And that's bad, "really, really bad," he added.
3. If your website doesn't answer these 5 questions, you're losing prospects before they even interact with you.
Marcus continued with the second part of the activity, and here’s where things got interesting.
“Now, I want you to put a checkmark next to each item on your list that you have already addressed very well on your website. They key word here is 'very' well.”
As business leaders around the room shared their honest assessments, I was surprised to see that of the seven items on most people's lists, the average amount of checkmarks was less than two. Marcus wasn’t surprised. Apparently, that’s on par with the majority of the groups he surveys.
“You can’t avoid addressing your prospects’ concerns and be the most trusted voice in your space.”
It’s not like our concerns are hard to identify. They’re pretty universal, regardless of industry. There’s five things we want to know before we buy. And consequently, they're the same five things we research online. Marcus refers to them as the Big 5.
- Cost – What’s the price?
- Problems – What are the potential flaws?
- Versus – How does it compare with others?
- Reviews – What are people saying about it?
- Best – Which is the highest quality?
4. There’s 5 keys to success when implementing “They ask, you answer.”
Sheridan’s approach is about creating a culture of listeners and teachers within your organization. The only caveat – you have to be willing to address any question online that people are asking.
Any business can become a trusted online resource of educational content. All you need is a subject matter expert and the internet. And guess what? You've got both.
"We're all media companies, whether we like it or not."
Every question and concern of your buyers presents an opportunity to write a blog post or produce video content that helps them find what they're looking for.
In order to execute this strategy effectively, Marcus advises every business to accept these 5 keys to success.
- Buy-in from top to bottom
- Initial content marketing workshop and long term training
- In-house Content Manager/Videographer
- Required participation from employees
- Use the right tools and measure the results
To study any of these concepts in greater depth, check out the wealth of content Marcus Sheridan has released on the Sales Lion's learning center.
And if your having problems getting buy-in from leadership at your company, here's a guide to help you explain the value of content and inbound marketing.