Big 5 Topics for They Ask, You Answer Marketing Success

There’s no doubt that digital marketing is enabling businesses of all sizes to grow and achieve their goals. But with all that digital marketing there’s a lot of “stuff” being published on blogs, social media, and in emails that generate clicks and likes, but don’t result in customer engagement and sales. Sure, your clicks and likes numbers look good, but if they don’t drive sales, they’re just vanity numbers.

So, how can you create and publish content that attracts, engages, and generates revenue?

Ideally, you’d develop a content marketing strategy. You’d create and share online materials such as videos, blog posts, and social media posts that keeps your business top of mind with your potential client so that when they’re ready to buy, they think of you. 

And that’s where many businesses stop dead in their tracks. If you’ve ever tried to think of a month’s worth of blog topics or a week’s worth of social media posts, you’ve probably already experienced that dear-in-the-headlights moment when you have to create content out of thin air. Randomly coming up with topics that you are guessing your clients will be interested in is often not productive.

They Ask, You Answer - photo from the conference

What is They Ask, You Answer?

They Ask, You Answer is both a book and a business philosophy about what kind of content attracts and engages your customer personae, which ultimately generates sales. Published in 2017 and written by Marcus Sheridan (formerly known as the Sales Lion), They Ask, You Answer is the definitive guide to help you create and share content that answers questions a potential client might ask.

But that sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? How can you possibly guess what questions a potential customer might ask? Well, Marcus has done all the hard work for you. Through years of marketing and growing his own pool business, he found that there are five specific categories of information that outperform other topics in attracting and engaging customers. And if you create content using his Big 5 Topics, you’ll find it easier to create content and your content will be more productive in generating sales.

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Is They Ask, You Answer Content Marketing?

The short answer here is yes – They Ask, You Answer is content marketing – but it’s based on a particular type of content marketing that’s referred to as inbound marketing.

Content marketing is any type of content created to generate interest in products/services. It could be blog posts, a flyer, a media advertisement, or a paid ad on your favorite social media platform. Content marketing uses content to achieve business marketing goals.

Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers to your business. Inbound marketing relies on helpful, informative content that is tailored to your ideal customer and helps them see you as a leader in your industry. It’s a process of proactively providing valuable content that solves a problem your customer already has.

Outbound marketing is promotional content that is not necessarily written, or times based on where your customer is in their buyer’s journey. It’s kind of like a pop-up that jumps out at you on a website with a “buy today” message when you’re early in the buying process and not ready to make a purchase decision.

The Big 5 Blog Topics for Any Industry

The beauty of the They Ask, You Answer Big 5 Blog Topics is that they work for any industry. Got a trucking and transportation business? No problem. Manufacturing and logistics business? Totally relevant. Have a service-related business, They Ask, You Answer has got your back.

By using the Big 5 Blog Topics you can create content for blog posts and then repurpose that content for your other digital marketing channels.

So, what are the Big 5 blog post topics?

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1. Cost and Pricing

When was the last time you made a purchasing decision and never, for even a moment, considered the cost? Probably never.

Cost is often one of the top two or three factors any buyer considers when making a purchase. But websites are notorious for not listing prices. In the spot where you expect to find pricing information, you find a “Call for a Quote” button or a “Schedule a Discovery Call” option. And of course, you assume you’re going to get roped into a sales pitch. So, you pass and move on to the next website.

It’s important to recognize that considering costs is an essential part of your customer’s decision-making process. You can list specific costs for products and services, or you can list a range of prices with an explanation of what customers can expect at the lower end of the range, and what they can expect at the higher end.

Addressing pricing in your content marketing helps some “lookers” self-select out because they can’t afford your product/service and moves other buyers beyond the price issue to consider the unique qualities of your product/service. Because that’s where the sale really happens, isn’t it?

Illustration of a man in a suit with a question mark above his head and a hand offering a lightbulb

2. Problems

No matter what kind of product or service you sell, it’s the solution to a problem your customer is experiencing.

But often, customers only know the symptoms of their problems, so they may not understand what the solution is. Creating content that discusses symptoms of their problem and educates them on possible solutions creates a feeling of trust between you and your customer.

How does that work? Maybe you run a plumbing business and your customers often ask about a banging noise in their pipes. You could title your blog post, “What’s Causing That Banging Noise in my Pipes?” and discuss the top three causes of banging plumbing noises and the solution for each cause.

Pro tip: If you make a note of common questions that come in when you’re on the phone with customers or responding to client emails, you’ll easily generate a list of great questions to answer.

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3. Comparisons

Shortly after potential buyers are looking for solutions to their problems, they begin comparing those solutions. They want to know which option is the best solution for their problem or what factors they should consider when deciding between different solutions.

For our plumbing company, you could list the three most common causes of banging noises in plumbing and then go on to some if-then content.

You could write that if the noise only happens while hot water is running the hot water line may not have enough free space around it to prevent friction. Then you suggest a couple of options to increase the free space around that line.

Or you could write that if the home was built prior to 1960 it probably has air chambers. Air chambers are T-sections of pipe that contain air and act as shock absorbers for the water flow. Over time the air in the chamber becomes displaced by water which can cause a banging noise. Then you go on to explain options to solve that problem.

Honest comparisons about whether your product/services can fix their problem go a long way to establishing you as a trusted leader in your industry.

Photo of two plumbers in front of a car

4. Best of Lists

Almost everyone looks for a “best-of list” when considering a purchase. If you do an internet search “top _____” or “best _____ and type your product/service in the blank, you’ll probably see how popular best-of lists are.

To make your best-of list post stand out, there are different approaches you can take to create your content.

Best in Class: this is a list of the best items in a particular category. So, you might make a list of best residential plumbers in your area, or best commercial plumbers in your area, or even best emergency plumbers.

Best Practices: this is a list that educates your customer about something related to your product/service. Returning to our plumbing business, your list could include the best questions to ask when calling a plumber, the best questions to ask about plumping when buying a new house, or the best questions to ask when you’re getting a quote.

Best Competitors: this is a list of your competitors, what they’re good at, and when they might be a better choice to solve the customers’ problem. For example, let’s say you specialize in residential plumbing, and you write a blog post listing the top 5 plumbing businesses in your area. You would list the other 4 businesses with a focus on what they do well that you don’t (commercial plumbing, emergency 24/7 plumbing, sanitary drainage, etc.) By providing helpful information that might cause them to select a different plumber you establish yourself as a trusted and respected business in your industry. When they need the type of plumbing service you provide, your business will be at the top of their list.

Photo of hands scrolling through customer reviews on a phone

5. Reviews

The one great thing about the internet is that there’s someone out there who has purchased the exact product/service that you’re considering and has created a review. So, you could take advantage of customer’s searching for reviews and create a review of the typical products your buyer might use. For example, our plumbing business might do a review of products for unclogging a sink on your own. Or they might do a review of best cleaning products for a shower that won’t cause damage to your pipes. By solving an easy problem for them now, they’re more likely to call you later when the problem requires a professional.

From building an overall content strategy to putting pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) They Ask, You Answer can provide you with a framework to create content that attracts and engages customers and drives sales. There’s no need to struggle to reinvent the content wheel and think of new and different topics every week. Just follow The Top 5 They Ask, You Answer content roadmap and you’ll find yourself easily creating content that attracts customers.

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