Marcus Sheridan is the founder of The Sales Lion, consistently ranked as one of the internet’s fastest growing marketing websites focusing on the powers of inbound marketing. But before he built the empire that is The Sales Lion, Marcus built a prominent pool company and developed the most popular swimming pool website in the world through his content marketing strategies.
Mystery #1: Getting started, then staying inspired
What is the ultimate content strategy? Listening. Listening is the greatest content marketing tool in the world. Marketers who are great listeners never run out of content. Because if you listen well, you will have 1000′s of questions come your way. The greatest content strategy in the world is “they ask, you answer.”
For Marcus and his fiberglass pool company, he figured out that consumers were seeking 5 things:
- How much does a fiberglass pool cost?
- Are there problems with having a fiberglass pool?
- Which type of pool is best? Concrete or fiberglass?
- Who are the best [insert product/service] in [insert industry]?
- Who has the best reviews?
So what did he do? He developed blog articles and other content that answered these 5 questions for potential pool customers. In fact, he wrote an article with reviews of his top competitors in the Richmond, Virginia area. Not only does his website now rank at the top of Google for all of his competitor’s keywords, but that single blog post alone brought $150,000 of business to his company.
Mystery #2: “My competitors will steal my secrets”
When it comes to talking about our business and work, we’re often scared that we are going to give our greatest secrets to our competitors. But in most of our work, our secrets aren’t our competitive advantage. Here’s a great example…what do you see to the right? A Big Mac, right?
What makes a Big Mac special? The secret sauce, right? Ironically, that secret sauce is nothing much more than 1000 Island dressing. It’s not all that secret. BUT, can you identify the two burgers below?
It’s tough. The burger on the left is the “Big King” – Burger’s knock-off of the Big Mac. This is a burger that is on the menu and marketed. What about the burger on the right? It’s the new “W” burger from Wendy’s. All 3 burgers are the exact same, but there is only 1 Big Mac.
Mystery #3: Time
Time, time, time. It’s one of our most challenging hurdles in anything we do. But think about all the things we do automatically: if you own a business and have employees, you pay then every week. It’s automatic, it’s what you do. Content marketing must be that automatic.
Mystery #4: Though Leadership
It doesn’t matter if you sell popsicle sticks, you should be thee #1 thought leader in the popsicle stick industry. If you want to be a thought-leader in your industry, have an opinion and share it.
Mystery #5: ROI
Content marketing has the ability to drive consumer awareness and engagement with your offering. Both really great things to have. But how do we know if our content marketing is driving sales?
For tracking ROI, we can start by tracking the soft elements of our plan. These include metrics like:
- Web traffic increases
- Increase in page views
- Decrease in bounce rates
- Tweets or Facebook shares
- Search engine rankings
But the most important metrics we can track relate directly to sales activities. In order to effectively show ROI from content marketing, try tracking these metrics:
- Increase in lead quality
- Increase in lead quantity
- Shorter sales cycles
- Increase in customer awareness
- Market share indicators
- Increase in cross-selling opportunities
- Qualitative customer feedback on the content
Mystery #6: Content marketing and sales
Content marketing – done correctly – can be the biggest driver of sales for any product or service. Marcus shared a page from his analytics report that shows how many leads were generated from each of his articles (In case the image is too blurry…it’s 100s). In fact, Marcus was able to determine that if someone read a certain number of pages on his blog, they converted to customers 80% of the time. How’s that for a lead generator?
Marcus: “Content is the greatest sales tool in the world. Period.”