Marcus Sheridan used to be a pool guy. Not the guy who cleaned pools, however. Sheridan sells fiberglass pools, as part owner of River Pools and Spas. And he is very successful at it. But on Oct. 10, 2008, the day that the financial markets imploded, so did his business.
"No one enjoyed this period," said Sheridan on May 7 at the PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in New Orleans.
The next year, in 2009, Sheridan discovered content marketing, and he took to the strategy in a big way. "Pain and suffering forces us outside of our comfort zone to try new things," he said.
Sheridan began blogging about pools, focusing on being as truthful and transparent with potential customers as possible. His posts made it to the top of Google search rankings, and remain there today. Sheridan is able to link his online content success with the number of customer leads he's received, and his business now is thriving once again.
Sheridan has since founded The Sales Lion to impart his content marketing knowledge. Here are five tips from him for successful content marketing:
1. Don't be afraid to give up your "secret sauce." Potential customers want to know the truth about your product or service. "You can find the recipe for the McDonald's Big Mac special sauce on the Web right now," says Sheridan.
2. Answer every question from your audience. "Take 50 questions from your customers and make each of them into a blog headline," says Sheridan. "Then do two blog posts per week."
3. Embrace price as subject in your content. Most companies don't want to talk about price online. That's one of the first questions customers will ask. "Not having a price page on your site is a mistake," says Sheridan.
4. Think of social media as a culture, not as a tool. "Everyone in your organization should see themselves as teachers," said Sheridan. This means having everyone participating in content creation.
5. Don't try to be an expert on every social media platform. "Become a master of one platforms first and run with it," says Sheridan. "Whether it's blogging, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, once you build a strong foundation with one platform, everything will fall into place."
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