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What happens when you answer every question your customers have asked?

Have you heard of the book, They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan?

It covers an interesting concept – that of addressing all of your clients’ and prospects’ questions on your website.

Of course you are probably already covering the basics on your website. You’ll have an About Page that explains the background of your company, and a Services Page that clearly outlines how you work with your clients. Maybe you’ll also have a page for case studies or projects, to help people understand more about the kind of work you do.

This would be a standard website for most people in this sector. It demonstrates who you are, gives people reassurance that you’re running an established business, and tells them how they can contact you. It covers the basics.

As he explains in his book, Marcus Sheridan takes things to another level. I will give you some background information before I explain what he did.

When the recession started to bite in 2008, he was running a business fitting swimming pools in Virginia in the US. It had been easy for his customers to borrow the money they needed for their pools, and then suddenly the flow of cash dried up.

Sheridan and his two business partners were suddenly in trouble. Projects that had been ready to start were cancelled, and they came very close to losing their business.

But he decided to do something radical, and began to write blog posts that answered all the questions that people tended to ask him when he was out at prospects’ houses, trying to sell them a pool.

He could have stuck to the straightforward questions, but he decided to tackle every question he could think of – even the difficult ones. He would get back from a sales meeting and immediately start writing about the latest question he had been asked.

Sheridan covered topics that most of us would shy away from. He talked about fibreglass pools vs. concrete pools and honestly outlined the pros and cons of each of these, even though their company only sold fibreglass pools.

He named his competitors – the other swimming pool companies in his area – and he even talked about pricing. These are kind of topics that most of us would avoid covering on our websites.

Over time he produced blog posts, videos and other content such as eBooks to make sure that by the time people got in touch with his company, they were absolutely clear that they wanted a fibreglass pool and that they wanted to buy it from him.

This gave him two key advantages over others in his industry. First of all, if someone typed a question about domestic swimming pools into Google, it was often his site that would come up first. Secondly, it meant that when someone called them about a pool, they were much more likely to become a customer, because they’d already read quite a lot of information on his website and deduced that a fibreglass pool was the right option for them.

Sheridan’s swimming pool business survived the recession as a result of his blog posts, and River Pools and Spas now gets more internet traffic than any other swimming pool website in the world.

He has now switched his attention to helping other companies to implement his strategy in their own businesses. The key is to “think like a teacher, not a business owner”.

So if, for example, you’re a residential architect, you would address all the questions you ever get asked when you’re out at your clients’ homes. You might even give some guide prices or ballpark figures for particular types of projects or talk about the pros and cons of a single storey extension vs. a two storey extension. You can probably think of plenty of ideas yourself.

I highly recommend the book, although I must warn you that if you do read it, you’ll be inclined to think that you’d never have enough time to put it into practice – it would certainly take a lot of time and effort to make it happen.

But imagine the impact on your business if you could create useful content that teaches your potential customers everything they need to know about working with you? It could make a substantial difference.

I do like to keep up to speed with the latest ideas in business and marketing, but first and foremost we’re a structural engineering firm, so if you need help with the structural element of a project, please do get in touch.

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