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7 Steps to Creating Contagious Content (INBOUND 18 Session)

Marcus Sheridan of IMPACT shares the 7 ways that content can distinguish your brand from all your competitors.

Kevin Kononenko on September 13, 2018 • 5 minute read

In case you haven’t already heard of him, Marcus Sheridan is a living legend within the inbound marketing community.

His story has been shared over and over again within the walls of the HubSpot offices and repeated when any skeptical digital marketer questions the value of inbound marketing.

8 years ago, his pool installation business was on the verge of bankruptcy. He learned about inbound marketing, and began relentlessly creating new content to educate his prospects.

8 years later, he earns over 600,000 visits per month to his domain. His fiberglass pool installation business has expanded its capabilities by owning the fabrication of the pools. And Marcus himself is a motivational speaker, sales coach and partner at IMPACT, a HubSpot Diamond Partner and marketing media producer.

In his INBOUND18 talk, Marcus shared 6 ways that you can create content that will stand out above the competition. 8 years ago, simply adopting inbound marketing was enough to set your brand apart from others. Now that everyone has jumped on the bandwagon, he has adopted these strategies to stay ahead.

All six of his recommended strategies revolve around one concept: trust. After all, in an age when the customer is more powerful and independent than ever before, trustworthiness can set your brand apart from all the competitors that the customer (likely) knows about.

Openly Talk About The Negative

Guess what? Your customer is going to the research and discover the negative traits about your product. In Marcus’ case, his business installed fiberglass pools. But most of his prospects were also considering concrete pools.

Rather than wait for the customer to come up with their own narrative, he brings the “elephant in the room” front and center. His company publishes blog posts and videos about the pros and cons of fiberglass pools. This is a great way to build trust and become an authority in the pool-buying process.

Also, it helps qualify your prospects. If they aren’t comfortable with fiberglass pools after reading a short blog article, they probably won’t be willing to follow through and eventually make a $10,000+ purchase.

Share Your “Not So Secret” Sauce

Most people feel that their production process is “proprietary” in some way. That could be a manufacturing process for physical products, or product decision-making for software products.

Instead, his company River Pools shares every step of their manufacturing process. They film long YouTube videos and put them on the home page of their website. Why is that? Because it gives personality to their brand!

If your brand only creates YouTube videos that are 90 seconds or less, your prospects may have a hard time distinguishing your brand from others. And, if customers will need to make a large purchase, they should be especially willing to spend the time on your content.

Embrace Our Review-Obsessed Society

Sometimes in the sales process, a prospect will say, “We think we want to do business with you. But if not, who would you recommend?”

The salesperson will always say, “There’s nobody that does what we do!”. That’s a huge missed opportunity.

Because guess what? The prospect is going to do the research anyways, and come to their own conclusion!

Instead, Marcus’ company writes articles like “The 5 best pool builders in the Richmond, Virginia” area. It ranks 2nd to Yelp for relevant queries. Here’s the kicker- they don’t recommend themselves as one of the 5! Instead, they show their expertise in the introduction by explaining that they have spoken to hundreds of local homeowners and compiled the list from their expertise.

Make It Personalized

Here’s one phrase that Marcus sees time and again when he is working with sales teams:

“If you have any questions while you go through this process, let me know.”

This is an instant giveaway that the salesperson is not committed to the person’s specific problem. Sure, they are available, but they aren’t paying attention just yet.

He presented Wix.com as a shining example of a company that bridges this gap. Their onboarding sequence is centered around the user’s needs:

They ask a series of questions that transform Wix from a general website builder to a solution for the user’s specific needs.

Focus on the Money

Marcus always poses a question to company leaders: “Why don’t you share pricing on your website?”

Here are the three most common responses:

  1. We don’t want our competitors to know (their salespeople will find out anyway)
  2. We want to be able to answer questions about it and offer discounts.
  3. We don’t want to scare prospects away.

Imagine if you were considering multiple restaurants on a Saturday night, and one of them did not publish their pricing. You wouldn’t know the cost until you spoke to a waiter. That would probably be an automatic turn-off!

The first post he published on his domain was, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?”.  It educated the consumer on all the different packages that they might want to consider. Sure, all were expensive. But, the discussion about pricing actually helps qualify your prospects.

Show It, Don’t Say It

This is the core of Marcus’ message, and he left it until last to make sure it stuck with the audience. He played a video from ServicePro, a company that manufacturers industrial components. Seems boring right? Instead, the video highlighted all the members of the company and their shared values. The viewer could see their beautiful factory and enthusiastic employees.

The point was that marketers should get their team involved. Marketers can’t be an expert in every part of the organization, so they should work with other departments that can authentically tell the entire sotry of the company.

About the author
Kevin Kononenko Growth Marketer @ Databox. Making it easy for marketers to tell the story of their success. Everton FC supporter. Startup guy.
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