Want to know a bit more about They Ask, You Answer before you buy, or don’t buy?
Wondering whether reading this book be worth your time? And if so, will it move your business forward?
Or have you read it, and you want to get more clarity?
I’ve read They Ask, You Answer multiple times, and I will summarise the book, help you work out whether it’s worth reading, get clear on the types of businesses who are a good fit for it, and who the book isn’t for, and the type of roles within companies that should read it.
The crucial questions I’ll also cover are: can They Ask, You Answer help your business to increase revenue and grow? Have other companies succeeded? If They Ask, You Answer hasn’t worked for them, why not?
Right, let’s go.
Table of Contents
FAQs: They Ask, You Answer
Summary: What is They Ask, You Answer about?
Today’s consumers live in a digital world, with access to all the information they need to make a purchasing decision at their fingertips.
To influence the behaviour of your buyers, you need to be an authority who can address every question, concern, or fear they may have.
You do this by setting aside the “old school” marketing and sales playbooks of yesteryear and embracing the role of a teacher, creating content that provides your buyers with the answers they seek.
This is how you grow your business in the digital age. And They Ask, You Answer is your guide to accomplishing that goal.
They Ask, You Answer is a “revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing and today’s digital consumer”.
It’s much more than a book, it’s a framework for getting more sales and marketing success in your business.
The author Marcus Sheridan tells us that this framework works for all types of business across the world, both B2B and B2C, including but not limited to, retail, manufacturing, home improvement, software, property/estate agents, and many more industries.
They Ask, You Answer is about helping you build trust throughout the buyers’ journey in a way you and your competitors aren’t doing now.
Every purchase has trust at the heart of it.
Earning more trust and strengthening credibility will help you get more customers, more high paying customers, and sustained revenue growth…
…and that is what They Ask, You Answer is all about.
Here are the main parts of the book:
PART I – A Very Different Way of Looking at Business, Marketing, and Trust
PART II – The Impact of They Ask, You Answer on Sales Teams
PART III – Implementation and Making It a Culture
PART IV – Creating a Culture of Video . . . In-House
PART V – How to Build the Perfect They Ask, You Answer Website
Should I read this business book?
If you come to They Ask, You Answer with an open mind and an open heart, you have the power to transform your business and career (and life).
The book helps you improve your sales and marketing to increase your organic search traffic, more (and better) leads, more sales and sustained revenue growth. If you’re looking to grow your sales and revenue, this book is worth it. It will help you increase profit by making the selling quicker and easier and earning more search traffic.
Maybe for you, it’s not all about growing your business? This book is also a good read if you want to make sure sales don’t fall over the coming years.
If you want a quick win, this isn’t the book for you. Yes, there are some quick wins, but you need to implement significantly to transform your business.
They Ask, You Answer is a business framework to help you increase sales by building significant trust with your buyer, like never before – so it will be a perfect read if you and your business have a strong desire to help people.
You can finish reading this book, and know the theory of They Ask, You Answer, but implementing it is quite another thing. With this book in hand, you have your guide to help grow your business.
If you’re in sales, or leadership:
This book and framework is for leadership, sales and marketing. It’s a book for sales managers/leadership and overall leadership in your company. For this business framework to be truly successful, you need a culture, where leadership, sales and marketing are not working in silos, but are working together to earn the trust of buyers.
If you’re a marketer, content marketing specialist, or videographer:
The initial reaction of many experienced content marketers is they already know a lot of what Marcus discusses in the book. But they also realise that it’s one thing to know, and quite another to implement, and quite another to grow your revenue and business. Most that I’ve heard from are thankful to have a clear framework to guide their communication with their buyer.
They Ask, You Answer is powerful because it’s the framework that many content marketers need. It brings what they know together, and gives you everything you need to implement.
All in all, content marketers are the primary fans of this book. But it’s certainly not just for content marketers. It’s critical that leadership understand it and are bought in.
Which is the best way to consume They Ask, You Answer?
If you’re a big reader, simply buy the book (second edition) from your favourite book shop – this is the latest hardback edition of They Ask, You Answer (not an affiliate link). All formats: Free video course / Hardback / Audiobook / Kindle / Blinkest. Other bookshops are available such as Waterstones, Bookreads, or your local independent bookshop.
There’s nothing worse than buying a book, and for it to gather dust on your shelf without being finished.
So what are the alternatives to reading the book if your books never get finished?
I recommend first progressing through the author’s free They Ask, You Answer fundamentals video course here (free signup needed). Whether you like a good book, or an audio book, a video introduction is a simpler approach to begin with.
The video course will also help your colleagues/employees discover They Ask, You Answer in a way that’s easy to consume.
The video course helps you to understand the main principles of They Ask, You Answer, without being overwhelmed. It’s a great starting point before exploring more with the book. You’re then in a good position to decide if reading/listening to the book is truly worth your time.
If you’ve already read the book, now is also a good time to explore the They Ask, You Answer fundamentals video course – it helps the book to really hit home.
If you do decide to consume the book, which format is best?
I’m from the UK and I like Marcus Sheridan’s USA tones and the way he comes across. But I’ve also heard from other people in the UK, let’s say 20%, who prefer the book because they don’t get on with the way Marcus talks/presents in the audiobook.
Maybe he’s not for everyone, a minority say Marcus comes across as bragging sometimes, but I’d recommend an open mind and open heart. The majority of reviews from readers are very positive, and if you can come with an open mind, his way of communication is very effective. He’s an extremely effective on stage speaker too.
I also prefer the video/audio learning experience over reading the book. But that’s just the way I like to consume information – it’s not a judgement on the book. The book is always important to consume for you and your colleagues at some point, ideally early in your journey.
They Ask You Answer is a very good book as found by the hundreds of positive reviews.
Let’s find out more…
What types of businesses is this book aimed at?
Whatever your business, if you have people who buy from you (everyone), They Ask, You Answer will really help. Buying is all about trust, and this books certainly helps you with that.
The book is primarily aimed at making significant shifts for any B2C or B2B business with sales and marketing teams, whether your teams are 1 employee, or 20, 100, or more.
But you can still get significant success if you’re a smaller business, microbusiness or solopreneur. It’s just you’ll really need to be honest with yourself about the resources that you have to implement They Ask, You Answer.
The author started off by creating the content himself, so could you too? Content creation is easier, especially in the age of AI text generators like Chat-GPT and Jasper.
What type of people is this book aimed at?
For the teachings in They Ask, You Answer to work in your business, it needs the buy-in of Leadership, Sales and Marketing. Success also needs all three working together so there’s a culture of They Ask, You Answer running through your company.
Ideal for: Leadership (Business owners/founders/directors), Sales leaders (eg. sales directors), Marketing leaders (eg. marketing directors), Sales Managers, Marketing Managers, Content managers, Digital marketers, Sales professionals, Videographers.
What are the Pros and Cons of They Ask, You Answer?
With the understanding that this is a business framework, not just a book, let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pros of They Ask, You Answer
• Increase traffic, leads, sales and company revenue.
• Helps you get the right people to your website and turn them into sales, and revenue.
• Many companies aren’t doing a good job of content marketing and digital sales. They Ask, You Answer gives you a clear proven framework.
• It allows you and your team to get to know your customer to a whole new level, so your messaging speaks to buyers like never before.
• If you implement They Ask, You Answer in the right way, your buyers will feel you have their best interests at heart.
• You’ll stand out from competitors because most companies are communicating poorly with their buyers.
• Many companies are doing an okay job of implementing the principles of They Ask, You Answer and still getting a good increase in traffic from Google. There’s so much more potential.
• This is a sales-driven initiative, so your sale team needs to be a big part of this. The truth is that most sales teams are underperforming. Sales teams think they’re better than they are. And They Ask, You Answer can transform your sales team and revenue.
•If you get the buy-in of the They Ask, You Answer principles at your company, from top-to-bottom, a culture will build that will transform everything about your business, getting people to work together like never before.
Cons of They Ask, You Answer
• Success doesn’t come immediately, there are few quick wins.
• To truly master They Ask, You Answer involves a lot of work and application. You and your team will have to put in the time and effort.
• For this business framework to bring you ultimate transformation and success, it has to run through your whole company as a culture. For this to happen you need buy-in not just from marketing, but leadership and sales too.
Does They Ask, You Answer work?
They Ask, You Answer has been proven to transform businesses across the globe – there are many success stories.
There are stories of failure too, when business don’t get it right.
Of all the people that read/listen to They Ask, You Answer, as with any book, probably the majority don’t actually implement anything.
Then there are the readers who know they need to be doing They Ask, You Answer, but put it in the “too difficult” box. They love the book, they love Marcus, but they don’t know where to start. They play with it, but they’re not doing the nitty gritty, because they’re not doing the hard thinking.
There are others who create content that answers some of the questions they target market are asking, but the execution is poor, the topics are poorly selected, the titles are wrong, the content is too salesy and biased, and it doesn’t move the needle.
The majority of people fall away because they don’t create enough quality, open and honest content. This is because they’re not fully invested and don’t have the resources to create the content.
There are larger small businesses who have the resources, but they’re poorly managed and the strategy is poorly executed.
There are those with the wrong mindset.
And there are those that do a great job of their learning centre, covering the Big 5 topics and many more of the core They Ask, You Answer concepts.
Then there are the super organisations, who completely understand They Ask, You Answer, where it’s fully integrated into their culture. It’s transformational.
The truth is They Ask, You Answer contains a variety of techniques and strategies, some low hanging fruit with easy advice and guidance and some more complex stuff. Whatever you implement will probably be an enhancement on what you’re currently doing, but the more you embed They Ask, You Answer within your company, the better your chances of success.
Who isn’t this book for?
The philosophy and framework covered in They Ask, You Answer takes a certain mindset to implement. When it comes to sales and marketing, if you don’t think like a consumer/buyer, if you don’t think like a teacher, you’ll be no good at this.
Also, this book isn’t for you if you can’t get buy-in from top to bottom in your organisation.
For real success They Ask, You Answer needs to be a culture that runs through your company.
Who wrote They Ask, You Answer?
If you’re a business owner, or a sales/marketing director/manager, chances are you’ve heard of Marcus Sheridan.
If you haven’t, no worries, you’re in for a treat.
Marcus is the author of the best-selling book ‘They Ask, You Answer‘.
He’s been there and done it in the world of sales and marketing.
Marcus comes from a sales background, and is also extremely knowledgeable of the world of marketing, due to his role in his swimming pool business, and subsequently in the sales and marketing agencies that he’s led.
The author is from the USA, but regularly speaks across the pond to large and small UK audiences. Don’t miss him if you get a chance.
What makes the current edition different to the first edition?
The new version largely remained the same, but with crucial comprehensive additions surrounding video and creating a They Ask, You Answer website, as well as more interviews and case studies.
FROM THE BACK COVER: “The first edition of They Ask, You Answer was a massive success, empowering marketing and sales teams across all industries (B2B and B2C), to connect with their buyers online and achieve astounding revenue growth.”
“This revised edition goes even deeper, introducing you to the latest must-have content marketing tools, like real-time conversation technology and video. Inside, you’ll also find new case studies and interviews with industry thought leaders.”
“Finally, this book will give you insider insight into the future of digital marketing. With They Ask, You Answer in your pocket, you’ll not only be positioned for success today, you’ll also be ready for what’s on the horizon with buyer behaviour and technology.”
How was They Ask, You Answer originally received by readers?
The book is a best seller with hundreds of 5 star reviews on Amazon. In the UK, this book has hundreds of business owner fans, and many people who go to one of Marcus Sheridan’s talks are captivated.
There are many who swear by They Ask, You Answer, and a smaller number who don’t agree with Marcus’s approach, or feel it’s not right for their business.
In January of 2017, They Ask, You Answer was published and was an immediate hit, mainly due to its easy-to-apply teachings combined with the fact that it was one of the first content marketing books that was written for sales and leadership teams, and not just marketing departments.
In 2023, it remains a key tool for marketers and business owners around the globe looking to truly see how they can become the most trusted voice in their space while obsessing over the way their customers think, act, talk, and search as they move through the buying process.
Is this a sales or marketing book?
If you read the book, there’s half on marketing, half on sales.
The author says, the reason for that is because the companies that really understand the power of content immediately integrate it into their sales process, which if you do it the right way, affects sales cycles dramatically and dramatically increases closing rates.
Your sales appointments, your conversations with prospects all become dramatically more effective because prospects have been to your website, they’ve vetted you and they like you so much more.
They trust you so much more.
That alone makes it worth it.
They Ask, You Answer teaches you to create the right written and video content, organise and index that content so it’s easily consumable, and utilise that content in the sales process to improve close rates.Marcus Sheridan
What were my first impressions of this book?
I was impressed when I read They Ask, You Answer for the first time.
The book offers a very good amount of easy-to-understand actionable advice on building trust with your target audience to increase sales.
I liken They Ask, You Answer to an onion.
After one read of the book, the outer skin of the onion, I came away with lots of low-hanging fruit to immediately put into action.
I then listened to Marcus Sheridan talk at multiple online and face-to-face events. I began to realise that underneath the first layer, were many more powerful ideas waiting to be peeled away.
Once you really get into it you start to realise there’s a powerful sales and marketing framework at play.
I listened to other business owners talk about They Ask, You Answer, and after one read, I realised that many come away with a high-level understanding, but they often miss the real gold nuggets of the book.
It’s the understanding that you get from reading the book multiple times and listening to Marcus speak about it that will really transform your business.
I went back to the book and began to immerse myself in it.
I soon realised that the success that companies across the world have achieved with They Ask, You Answer doesn’t happen unless you create the content in the right way.
The right way is when you create content more honestly, transparently and consistently than anyone else in your space.
Your content needs to resonate with your target audience in a way that builds trust quickly.
Marcus shows you how.
The more you dig into this business philosophy, the more gold nuggets come to the surface.
Reading They Ask, You Answer and listening to Marcus certainly seems like a never-ending gold rush.
Laying out the blueprint for modern content marketing, Marcus walks readers through the journey he took to build his successful business, River Pools and Spas, and how he used content marketing to save it from bankruptcy.
The book is full of actionable advice and strategies that any business owner or director can use to improve their content marketing efforts.
Here’s a short overview of what else you’ll find inside
Marcus tells us that at the core of his framework is the message:
“Educated prospects become happier and better customers.“
“If your prospects are asking questions, you must answer them — openly and honestly — on your website. That’s where the name for our framework comes from: They Ask, You Answer.”Marcus Sheridan
The simple premise of They Ask, You Answer is this:
Prospects and customers ask you questions about your products/services every day. If you’re willing to address these exact questions on your website through text and video, then you just might be successful. But the real transformation comes when you create this content more honestly, transparently and consistently than anyone else in your space.
This is a really simple concept, but once you’ve read the book, you’ll realise that this is a significant opportunity for you and your competitors.
And why does this matter?
Because the way people buy has significantly changed and many businesses and sales teams haven’t yet caught up.
When we shift our focus to educating customers, candidly addressing everything about our products and services — even things that are uncomfortable, like price and drawbacks — we:Marcus Sheridan
Build trust with our audience. Weed out bad-fit prospects. Make the buying process smoother.
What is the book’s main idea?
The title of the book “They Ask, You Answer” – comes from its central idea: that businesses should create content that answers their customers’ questions.
This might seem like common sense, but too often businesses create content for the sake of creating content, without stopping to consider whether it will actually be helpful or interesting to their target audience.
I’ve lost track of the number of websites out there that either have no new content, or content that is boring or turns off buyers.
Think about your blog posts.
Are your posts really answering the actual questions that your target buyers ask, in the exact way they ask it?
Is your content dull and boring?
Is your content truly unbiased, or are you pushing your reader towards buying your service/product – being salesy can be a turnoff.
Are you obsessed about your customer so that you know every question they’re asking?
Do you have a learning centre where you can collate all your content that answers these questions?
Knowing the answers to these questions will send you in the right direction.
How the change in buying and selling has already impacted your sales team
The basic premise of “They Ask, You Answer” is that the internet has changed the way that B2B and B2C buyers make purchasing decisions.
The Internet has changed how your buyers buy from you.
Nowadays, potential customers can find out everything they need to know about a product or service, before they even contact a company.
They just use a search engine.
If you and your website are not a part of the conversation that your target marketing is having online, the majority will never reach out to you.
This means that businesses need to adapt their marketing strategies to meet the needs of modern consumers.
Do you understand the significant shift in buying behaviour?
Consumer buying patterns have changed significantly over the last 15 years, especially the line between sales and marketing, which has become blurred, or has even disappeared.
In every industry, B2C or B2B, there has been a huge shift in buying behaviour.
Many different studies today show that 80% of the buying decision is made before the buyer even first talks to the company.
That means 80% of the purchase decision has already been made before your sales professional has even spoken to the prospect.
You might think this is different in your industry.
It may well be different.
80% is an average, so it could be higher or lower in your industry, but the key concept is the same.
The buyer has done their research, and they have already seriously considered their favourite companies. If they’ve chosen a competitor, you may not even hear from them.
Of course, your sales professional can still influence the buyer’s decision, as there’s still 20% of the decision to be made.
But your influence over their decision is weaker.
Your sales people need to make sure they influence the buyer earlier, by getting their key messaging across earlier in the property seller’s journey.
And the thing is, this is only going to get more and more important.
Let’s go back 15-20 years, what percentage of the buying decision do you think was made before the purchaser started talking to the sales professional?
What do you think?
Most people say 20-40%, which would be about right.
So if was 40% back then and 80% today, what’s it going to rise to within this next decade? 90%? 100%?
When Marcus wrote the first edition of his book in 2017, it was 70% and then two years later, with newer studies, it had changed to a whopping 80% of the purchasing decision being made before they get in touch with you.
It’s only going to go one way.
This means marketing has more of a hold over the buying decision than your sales team.
Your sales people need to be more involved in how you’re communicating with potential clients throughout the purchasing journey.
No longer can you wait until you’re in the property seller’s house to do the significant part of earning their trust.
If you want to learn more about this, it’d be a good idea to take read this book.
What are the questions your buyers are asking your sales team?
By answering customers’ questions in a helpful and transparent way, businesses will build trust and credibility with potential buyers…
With the very real side effect of attracting more switched on buyers from Google.
And if you’re not providing the answers to your target market’s questions, they’ll just keep searching on Google, and mostly probably have a conversation with your competitors, before you.
The power is with the buyer.
It’s important to note that Marcus Sheridan isn’t suggesting that businesses should stop selling altogether. He still believes that companies need to be positive in selling their products and services—but they need to do so in a way that provides value for the customer, in an unbiased, open and honest way.
Instead of using traditional advertising techniques like pushy sales pitches, businesses should focus on providing helpful information that educates potential buyers about what they’re looking for.
Today, They Ask, You Answer is used by thousands of businesses around the world, including B2B and B2C companies in retail, manufacturing, home improvement, software, healthcare, real estate, and dozens of other industries.Marcus Sheridan
What examples are there of They Ask, You Answer truly working?
I’ve personally witnessed quite a few success stories first hand and I’ve also heard of many.
Even when businesses have only implemented They Ask, You Answer to a basic level, I’ve seen impressive success stories.
I’ll show you one such story in a minute.
But to truly transform your business, Marcus says you’re going to need to live and breathe this stuff.
As well as first hand experience, I’ve also seen many case studies of B2B and B2C businesses, of all sizes.
Those companies that have implemented it well, have been transformed forever by making They Ask, You Answer a central part of their company culture.
I’d strongly recommend you read the book, and then implement once you’ve got that far, hopefully you’ll see it as a no-brainer to implement in your business.
But first, what is the book all about?
B2C Example in the UK: Blinds and Shutter company
I first read this book in 2019 when Nigel Botterill’s Entrepreneurs Circle introduced me to it. The EC had in turn heard about it from Phil Coleman, a UK EC member who sells shutters to homeowners.
In early January 2018, Phil followed Marcus’ advice and put a learning centre on his Barlow Blinds website to answer the exact real questions their customers were asking throughout the buyers’ journey.
Now, before I go on…
…They Ask, You Answer is about so much more than putting a learning centre on your website, but it’s definitely a good place for us all to start.
A learning centre is where you can collate all your content that answers those questions you’re asked every day by prospects and customers.
When it comes to creating content and creating your learning centre, don’t be a perfectionist. You don’t need a new website to get success with the They Ask, You Answer framework.
You simply need to start creating content.
You need to obsess over honest education.
I’m sure you can create an article answering one of your customers’ most commonly asked questions. It should only take 20 minutes to get a decent first draft down if you really know the topic.
Marcus is not talking about a quick paragraph or two. Write a helpful 600 word article that properly answers their most important questions.
If you can’t write the article in 20 or so minutes, you probably need to become more obsessed with your buyers, and more obsessed about the service/products you’re selling.
Doing this is not as hard as you think.
As you can see in the search traffic graph below, Phil Coleman’s obsession with providing the answers brought Barlow Blinds a significant increase in Google traffic throughout 2018 and beyond.
Saying a “significant increase” is an understatement.
It was huge.
BTW, here’s an article I wrote about what a learning centre really is.
B2C Example in the UK: In 2012, the concepts of They Ask, You Answer worked for my UK client Bristol Bifold
I wasn’t a stranger to this concept of educating your buyers using a learning centre when I read the book in 2019.
It was back in around 2013, when I started to recommend to my clients that they build a learning centre.
I had a lot of search engine optimisation experience behind me, and like Marcus Sheridan, I knew that educating your potential buyers would increase trust, increase your Google traffic and make the selling easier.
So in 2013, after I designed and built their new website, I recommended to the Bristol Bifold & Sliding Door Company that they create a learning centre for their website to educate their customers and increase their Google traffic.
I built the learning centre for them and one of the company’s directors, Simon, started to write lots of articles answering the answers that potential customers most commonly asked.
One thing that you’ll get from Marcus Sheridan is that it’s far better to use your own employees to write the content, rather than outsourcing.
Your customers want to hear your authentic voice, and you need to be able to write lots of quality content without being restricted in any way by how much an agency can create.
I would say Bristol Bifold’s implementation was a basic level of what Marcus outlined in They Ask, You Answer in 2017, but back in 2013 it was a long time before many of us had heard of the brilliant Marcus.
I say basic level because the learning centre didn’t touch on topics that address the buying fears going around the minds of potential customers.
Like most companies, Bristol Bifold shied away from discussing those difficult subjects. And yet in the book, you will see that truly open and honest content, where you’re not afraid to talk about the difficult topics, is what will set you apart and earn trust.
Honestly in your content is what your buyers are craving, and it’s what your competitors aren’t doing. Are you writing about the true problems that your buyers fear when buying the types of products/services that you sell? Are you discussing cost and pricing?
Or are you hoping people don’t ask, and you only discuss such topics once people get in touch?
Remember that your potential customers do not want to make a mistake when buying, so they are craving honest content that addresses those tough questions.
I wouldn’t say Bristol Bifold’s learning centre would today be the best example of a They Ask, You Answer learning centre, but it wasn’t bad back in 2013. Actually…it would still hold its own in 2023 having seen quite a few learning centres around.
The message there is, don’t worry too much about what it looks like, it’s the actual content that’s the important thing.
Your learning centre doesn’t need to be anything special.
You don’t need a new website.
Just make sure your content is organised to make it easily accessible.
Naturally Simon at Bristol Bifold introduced some salesy sentences into his content, but as we worked together, he removed that, and it was all about educating in an open and honest, non-salesy way. His content really shone, and instead of promoting his products, he provided beautifully honest unbiased educational content.
Website visitors loved it.
In the following couple of years, this learning centre work by Bristol Bifold had a strong impact on the amount of relevant Google traffic came their way. They were getting a lot of leads and customers.
But the problem was that Bristol Bifold’s effort to create this content was short lived. Their focus moved away from creating this type of content. They moved to creating more of the typical ‘top of funnel’ type of blog posts, like “3 Easy Ways to Instantly Brighten Your Home” and “Create Your Perfect Summer Home” – you know….those questions that many business blogs write about, but that don’t really move the needle, because your buyers don’t really care about those topics, and neither does Google.
If you obsess about your customer, you’ll soon realise the types of content that they really want…
….that is why They Ask, You Answer is such an important read.
A few years down the line from creating the Bristol Bifold learning centre, and bifold doors had become very popular in the UK. More and more companies started supplying them and more companies wrote about them.
Bristol Bifold were not creating the quality content, and competitors took their position in Google as one of the leading educators in that space.
Having said that, Bristol Bifold’s learning centre would still bring in some good traffic in the years ahead, much more than when they started, just not as much as at the peak.
That’s the thing about They Ask, You Answer. You can never control Google, you will have rises and falls in traffic, but if you follow this framework well, and keep working on it, your overall traffic from Google will be totally transformed compared to before you started.
So once you read They Ask, You Answer, realise that you need to find a way to make it a reality over the short and long term. If you create a good amount of quality content consistency, it can truly transform your business.
As a direct consequence of this work for Bristol Bifold, the sales grew quickly, taking their annual sales to over £1million, which was a lot for a small UK firm.
One of the most successful learning centre articles for them was “Top 5 Do’s & Don’ts When Choosing a Bifold Door” which ranked No.1 nationally for “best bifold doors” – that was significant.
It was a really honest post, that readers appreciated. It was education that buyers really needed.
But for Bristol Bifold, the investment in the website’s content relaxed over the years and other companies over took them. But the book and framework is about significantly more than an article like that.
I didn’t know then, that 10 years later I would be teaching even more of this on a whole new level.
I recently helped a client of mine, EDEMO Electric Bikes, apply They Ask, You Answer to their business. Here’s their electric bike learning hub which I and their talented team built along with the rest of their website.
The HubSpot learning centre inspired us. Because of that, the EDEMO learning centre should be very easy to use.
It’s a work in progress for EDEMO as they still need to add lots more content, but they’ve had impressive feedback so far from prospects and customers.
If you had a similar approach to your website, how much more relevant search traffic could you get? How could it change your business?
What are the key concepts of They Ask, You Answer?
As you can see by the list of key concepts below, They Ask, You Answer is comprehensive.
In your first encounters with the book, you’ll likely be focused on The Big 5 and the Learning Centre. It certainly makes sense to gain momentum with those two concepts first.
But the transformation of your business will happen once you get things done, implement to a high level, and successfully move through all areas of the business framework.
- The Big 5 – Five content topics areas that are sure to drive the most organic traffic, qualified leads, and quick sales.
- Learning Centre – Your content has to be well-organized and easy to find on your website so that visitors can quickly access what they’re looking for.
- The Selling 7 – The seven types of videos that help your customer build a relationship with your brand before they reach out to your sales team.
- Assignment selling – Learn to utilize content effectively in the sales process, from prospecting to closing, yielding better-educated prospects.
- Revenue team – By combining marketing and sales teams into a single team, you’ll unite around what really matters: bringing in revenue.
- Virtual sales – From 1-1 video prospecting to sales call best practices, your team will flourish in a video-first business world.
- Self-service tools – Make buying from you easy with chat, scheduling tools, and more touchless customer experiences.
- In-house content management – A well-trained in-house content team is faster, less expensive, and better aligned with your organisation’s needs.
- Sales and marketing alignment – Unite your business around shared goals and core strategy so you can finally replace frustration with teamwork.
- Martech and CRM adoption – Don’t just pay for the CRM platform, equip your whole team to use it correctly, end to end.
What is the Big 5 in They Ask, You Answer?
If you want to be successful at generating trust and become the leading voice in your industry, you will need to focus on the Big 5.
These are the Big 5 subjects that move every buying decision, in every industry.
Yours is no different.
Your potential customers research these topics every day before deciding whether to buy from you or one of your competitors.
The Big 5:
Whether you’re B2C or B2B, sell products or services, the Big 5 doesn’t change, and it’s been this way for the last 15 years.
- Pricing: How much does your solution cost?
- Problems: When someone is spending their money, this is when they want to know what could go wrong. They want to avoid making a buying mistake. What are the negatives with [product/service]? What are the problems with….? What are the pros and cons of….?
- Versus & Comparisons: How does your product or solution compare to alternatives that I’m looking at? How does your feature compare to this competitors feature? Product vs Product, Services vs Service, Feature vs Features, Company vs Company, Brand vs Brand, Technique vs Technique.
- Reviews: What is everybody saying about your solution? What’s good about….? What are the drawbacks….?
- Best in class: What is the best solution available? What is the best….? What is the top….? What is the worst…? What is the quietest…? What is the quickest….?
If you’re struggling to get more leads, sales and momentum from your content, you need to take a look at your existing content.
What percentage of your content is related to these Big 5 topics right now?
Often with companies, this number is very low….like 10%.
Marcus says that if you make 75% of your content around these 5 subjects, you will dominate your industry online, assuming you’re creating enough quality, open and honest content.
Sheridan maintains that businesses need to start with the question in mind first, and then craft their content accordingly.
This way, they can be sure that they’re creating material that will actually be useful to potential customers and help them make purchasing decisions.
To do this effectively, businesses need to have a good understanding of what their customers are actually searching for online.
What are your prospects asking you when they get in touch to buy?
Once you know this, you can start developing quality content that directly addresses those needs.
Why do companies fail with content marketing?
The author said on LinkedIn: “Let’s be honest: Many, many companies have failed with content marketing. Why? Well, there is a definitive pattern for sure. At the core of each, they’re almost always missing one thing.”
“A content marketing framework.”
That’s what They Ask, You Answer is.
Marcus continues: “They Ask, You Answer has built such a following with companies and marketing agencies around the world.
It has become the definitive “framework” for content strategy for what is now hundreds of thousands of organizations globally.
These folks know where to start with their content strategy.
They know the role of Leadership.
They know the role of Sales.
They know the role (and ideal make-up) of the Marketing department.
They know where to focus.
And they know what NOT to do as well.
Because of this, the case studies just keep pouring in.
And for me as the unsuspecting author, all I can do is sit back and smile.
Really, watching the results has been one of the utter joys of my life.
So my simple question for you as we start this new week is this:
What’s your content framework?
Because if you’re feeling lost, or frustrated with your lack of results, knowing the answer to this question is likely the missing piece to your content puzzle.”
What dictates a company’s success with They Ask, You Answer?
How important is it to get buy-in from leadership?
Here’s the author’s take on it in a LinkedIn post:
“Had a serious conversation with a Chief Marketing Officer of a mid-sized company this past week who wanted to engage my agency (IMPACT).
I asked this person, “Does your company CEO believe in this (They Ask, You Answer) as much as you do?”
The answer was, “No, but I’m working on it.”
I responded with: “Then you’re not ready to move forward with this, because unless we have buy-in from the top, this will fail. Yes, we would love to work with you, but we also must do this the right way. A true belief from leadership is essential to everyone’s success.”
Years ago I would have taken on this client.
But experience has taught me over and over again that nothing truly extraordinary ever happens with #ContentMarketing, #Inbound, and #TheyAskYouAnswer unless leadership is bought in.
They MUST believe.
And they must be willing to act accordingly.”
Make sure your customer and trust are at the centre of your strategy
The first goal of implementing this framework is to build trust with your current site visitors and prospects. When you earn the trust of the buyer, it makes the selling quicker and easier and helps to increase average order values.
A proven side effect is that Google also latches onto the fact you’re creating content that searchers are craving.
When done the right way, it’s been proven across the globe that the approach outlined in They Ask, You Answer could transform your business and transform your Google traffic.
But it’s the increased trust and credibility that comes with your quality content that can have a more immediate impact on conversions and on the selling, rather than waiting for Google.
Using your content to affect conversions and sales will have a more immediate ROI.
Even a single article can set you apart from your competitors and make the selling easier.
How do we stand out with our content?
When your company is answering the exact questions your buyers are asking, to an expert level, you immediately stand out. This has a good chance of giving you a more immediate return on your time investment.
When you publish expert written and video content on your website, answering the actual real questions that your ideal buyers are asking, people will see you as one of the authorities and leaders in your space.
This in turn makes the selling easier, shortening the time it takes from when your prospect gets in touch, to when they buy – if you do it well of course.
When I first read They Ask, You Answer in 2019, I immediately knew how powerful it would be for my clients, especially as I had a proven track record with this kind of approach.
And today I consult and train businesses of all sizes to help them implement the teachings from They Ask, You Answer (if you need help let me know).
And that helps them to increase web traffic, leads, make the selling easier and get more high paying customers.
So yes I’m a big fan, but I’m only biased from the point of view that, like you, I discovered this book, read it and probably like you and the hundreds of 5-star reviews this books gets, I thought it was the best business book that I’ve ever read.
So below I will delve in even further to give you an open and transparent review about this business, marketing and sales framework.
We’ll take a look at what “They Ask, You Answer” is all about and explore why Marcus Sheridan believes that companies need to start thinking like educators.
Strap yourself in.
…They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan.
A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer.Marcus Sheridan
Trust is a central part of the buying process.
Buyers simply don’t want to make a mistake in buying from you, and if you can address their fears, you will really stand out and earn trust.
Now and even more so in the future, there are so many reasons to distrust content on the Internet.
For a start, there are lots of website owners using artificial intelligence (AI) text generating software to create poor quality content, it’s even happening with video too.
As I’ve shown in my examples, in the wrong hands AI software is spewing out terribly inaccurate content and it’s not being corrected by the human. The amount of inaccurate noise that you’ll be up against in the coming years will be incredible.
And the buyers will be searching to find their heroes in all the noise.
That’s where you come in.
If you want to make the most of your chance to compete, you need to get moving quickly with publishing a good amount of quality content.
Marcus declares that the future of marketing lies in companies becoming educators instead of advertisers.
Earning trust via educating your buyers is the key differentiator.
And They Ask, You Answer is your instruction manual.
Marcus suggests that businesses should focus on providing answers to their customers’ questions instead of pushing products.
Your buyers are crying out for accurate and honest education.
And your buyer’s demand for truth will only get greater over the coming years.
This is your chance to move ahead in your space.
My industry is already saturated with online content, can They Ask, You Answer still work?
Is there any point in doing They Ask, You Answer if we’re not going to get loads of traffic from Google?
Marcus has coined a term called the Content Saturation Index (CSI).
In the video below Karine Abbou, a French content marketing strategist, asks Marcus more about content saturation and whether you should be concerned.
The content saturation index basically allows us to see which industries are more saturated with online content, which makes it harder to really stand out on Google search.
Marcus says that in 2021, over 80% of industries still have a low CSI. So there’s still plenty of opportunity. But if you think there’s no point in doing They Ask, You Answer because your industry is saturated with content, then you need to shift your mindset:
- Most industries are not saturated with content.
- Even if your industry is saturated, certain pages in your learning centre can still outrank pages created by companies who have been creating quality content for years.
- The main reason for implementing They Ask, You Answer is not to rank on Google, it’s a sales initative to help your sales team to increase your sales and revenue – it gives your sales people the tools to make the selling easier and quicker.
Examples of High CSI industries
- The insurance industry has a high CSI as there are huge numbers of insurance companies putting content online.
- Marketing agencies also have a high CSI, because every marketing agency is trying to do content marketing.
How to work out the CSI of your industry?
Do not become fixated on the CSI. That’s the wrong way to look at it. If you’re looking for this figure, you’re already looking for reasons why They Ask, You Answer won’t work for you.
Even in industries with content saturation, there are significant opportunities for you (or your competitors if they choose to follow They Ask, You Answer).
We know from the book that Marcus’ understanding and formation of the They Ask, You Answer principles came from his swimming pool company. That company has now been producing quality customer-focused online content for over 15 years. And lots of swimming pool companies have followed suit.
Marcus says that if he started a pool company today and was competing against the ‘great Marcus Sheridan’, he would do (and he’s not exaggerating) the exact same thing all over again.
The main reason why you should be doing They Ask, You Answer is not for Google, but to help your sales team today.
If every piece of content you produce is good and certainly if it’s related to the Big Five topics, you’re covering questions that your sales team is dealing with right now.
The companies that really understand the power of content immediately integrate it into their sales process, which if you do it the right way, affects sales cycles dramatically and dramatically increases closing rates.
Even if Google never ranked a single article that you produced, would They Ask, You Answer be worth it? Marcus says: “hell yes, it would be very very worth it because your sales appointments, your conversations with prospects all become dramatically more effective. Everybody that still comes to you has probably vetted you on your website and therefore is going to think that:“
- you’re an amazing teacher,
- they’re going to trust you more,
- they’re going to thank you for it,
- they’re going to come more prepared when they’re actually ready to buy,
- your conversations are going to be better
- the morale of your sales team is going to be better
…so all those are the reasons why Marcus thinks you should be doing They Ask, You Answer, even in a saturated industry.
Still in saturated industries when somebody does They Ask, You Answer, they find that Google ends up loving them.
Check out Marcus’ thoughts more in Karine’s video below.
Online reviews of ‘They Ask, You Answer’
On Amazon UK, at the time of writing there are 606 global ratings of They Ask, You Answer, with an overall score of 4.7 out of 5.
Those kind of ratings should definitely give you confidence that reading this book will be a good use of your time.
But I’m a little surprised there aren’t more reviews. Many of the bestsellers on Amazon have thousands of reviews, so why not They Ask, You Answer?
Marcus says: “It has become the definitive “framework” for content strategy for what is now hundreds of thousands of organisations globally.” – so we’re talking a large amount of purchases of the book.
When I speak to business owners in the UK, Marcus has almost god like status, and his book has changed a lot of businesses and lives. He’s in so much demand he charges five figure sums to speak.
Every business sells something, and this is a sales book, as much as a content marketing book. It helps increase revenue and makes the selling easier. So it’s a surprise to me that They Ask You Answer hasn’t taken off more.
But what do people like and not like about the book?
It was hard to find a negative review, but even though it’s completely disproportionate to shine a light on a negative review like this one, here’s one for you to see.
Why show it?
They Ask, You Answer is far from a simple book, as the reviewer suggests. It takes many business owners maybe 3 reads of the book for the concepts to properly sink in.
That doesn’t mean it’s a difficult read.
The book is generally easy to understand and very well written. Marcus is very clear with what you need to do. But sometimes you need to look a bit deeper for Marcus’ truly powerful messages and insights
It’s those topics, like writing without bias, openly discussing the competition, having an abundant mindset, improving video, making the selling easier, which can come out after 2-3 reads, and is where the true power of the book and framework lies.
Having said that, there’s plenty of low hanging fruit along the way – ripe for the picking.
Okay, over to our 1 star reviewer:
Valentyn (1 Star) says:
“Readers are not Google Search. Too bloated to be useful.
Save yourself money and time…
Here is what 330 pages are all about:
- Start blogging.
- Write about pricing and cost.
- Write about problems.
- Write about versus and comparisons
- Write reviews.
- Write about Best in Class.
That’s actually it… The Whole book could be done in 2-3 pages. The author forgot he is writing a book and not an online blog for the Google so it indexes all the pages.“
Valentyn is totally entitled to his opinion. But the book is about so much more than blogging about pricing, cost and problems.
If you do read the book, make sure you approach it with an open mind
(Valentyn probably had an open mind, make sure you do too). And keep thinking deeply as you read about how you can implement what you learn.
The book contains a lot of low hanging fruit, but there’s also so much in-depth intelligent advice from Marcus about enhancing how you communicate with your audience.
The overwhelming number of reviews are 5 star (81%).
Mrs Jackson said:
5 stars – Brilliant book for any business.
“This is one of my favourite business books. We have implemented this approach of content marketing into our business and have seen great results. Marcus provides you with so much help to get you started and he even includes training material to help get your team involved. Highly recommend.”
Mr Bryson said:
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the book!
“I was recommended the book and despite the fact I generally say I don’t read, I bought it. I’m glad I did too, its reinvigorated my drive and passion in my work. I finished it in around 2 days which for me is light speed. That’s after work and after I’ve got the kids to bed. I’ve already bought Marcus’s book The Visual Sale and that’s a good read too.”
Free Sample of They Ask, You Answer (no email address needed)
Download your free sample of They Ask, You Answer here (newly revised and updated – no email address needed).
You can find out more about the book ‘They Ask, You Answer’ here on Amazon: Book / Audiobook / Kindle). There are a lot of great books around, but if you can begin to implement Marcus’ recommendations, you should see pretty immediate results.
Before you buy the book, it’s time to listen to Marcus himself.
If you;’re already read the book, this video from Marcus will be useful too.
In “They Ask, You Answer”, Marcus Sheridan states that the future of marketing lies in companies becoming educators instead of advertisers.
He suggests that businesses should focus on providing open, honest and trustworthy answers to their customers’ questions, instead of simply pushing products.
While traditional advertising techniques still have a place in today’s market, Marcus Sheridan’s book provides an interesting perspective on how businesses can adapt their marketing strategies to meet the needs of modern consumers.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to modern content marketing and truly connecting with your ideal buyers, “They Ask, You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan is a great place to start.
It’s got to be the best business book I’ve read, because it’s actionable, and what’s not to love when we’re talking earning the trust of your buyers.
There’s so much that makes sense, backed up with real data from real businesses.
It’s packed with actionable advice and strategies that any business can use to improve their online presence and reach more potential customers.
Whether you’re a complete novice when it comes to content marketing or you’ve been doing it for years, you’re sure to find something valuable in this book.
Implementing this framework could have a significant impact on your business. If you and your colleagues give full buy-in to They Ask, You Answer, you are likely to see dramatic increases in organic traffic, better leads and revenue growth.
It won’t be easy, there are plenty of reasons why businesses can fail, but you should start to see rewards soon after you begin implementing.
And if you want more, take a look at Marcus’s book, The Visual Sale (How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World).
You can find out more about They Ask, You Answer here: Book / Audiobook / Kindle). I’d love to have a chat once you’ve read it.
A Topic Summary of They Ask, You Answer
I always find it helpful to read the contents page to get a better idea of what a book is about.
So to finish off this review of They Ask, You Answer, here is the content page from the latest edition of the book to show you the themes and subjects that Marcus covers.
PART I – A Very Different Way of Looking at Business, Marketing, and Trust
Chapter 1 The Fall
Chapter 2 A Massive Buying Shift and the Blur Between Sales and Marketing
Chapter 3 This Book Won’t Work for You If …
Chapter 4 The Discovery of They Ask, You Answer
Chapter 5 They Ask, You Answer Defined
Chapter 6 Brainstorming the Questions You Are Asked Every Day
Chapter 7 The Ostrich Marketing Strategy
Chapter 8 The CarMax Effect
Chapter 9 The Discovery of The Big 5
Chapter 10 The Big 5, Topic 1: Pricing and Cost: Why We Must Talk About Money
Chapter 11 How One Article About Money Generated More Than $6 Million in Sales
Chapter 12 Case Study 1: High-End B2B Technology Company Generates More Than $8 Million in Additional Revenue
Chapter 13 The Big 5, Topic 2: Problems: How to Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
Chapter 14 Addressing the Elephant in the Room
Chapter 15 How Talking About Our Problems Generated More Than $1 Million in Revenue
Chapter 16 Case Study 2: An Equipment Financing Company Becomes a Digital David and Conquers the Industry Goliaths
Chapter 17 The Big 5, Topic 3: Versus and Comparisons
Chapter 18 The Critical Need for Unbiased Content
Chapter 19 The Big 5, Topics 4 and 5: Reviews and Best in Class
Chapter 20 Using Reviews to Establish Yourself as an Expert
Chapter 21 The Impact of Discussing Competition
Chapter 22 Case Study 3: Small Retail Appliance Store Dominates Online and Makes Millions
Chapter 23 The Competition
Chapter 24 How They Ask, You Answer Saved River Pools and Spas
PART II – The Impact of They Ask, You Answer on Sales Teams
Chapter 25 How Great Content Is a Total Game-Changer for Sales Teams
Chapter 26 A Dramatic Discovery
Chapter 27 Assignment Selling
Chapter 28 How One Remarkable Couple Changed My Perspective on the Power of Content to Sell
Chapter 29 Content Never Sleeps
Chapter 30 How to Use Assignment Selling to Avoid Common Pitfalls
Chapter 31 How to Use Assignment Selling to Determine Compatibility
Chapter 32 Case Study 4: How a Healthcare Startup Became the Thought Leaders of an Entirely New Industry
PART III – Implementation and Making It a Culture
Chapter 33 The Power of Insourcing and Using Your Team to Create Incredible Content
Chapter 34 Case Study 5: How Block Imaging Embraced a Culture of Insourcing
Chapter 35 Starting Off They Ask, You Answer with a Bang: Company Workshops
Chapter 36 The Content Manager: Qualities to Look for, How to Hire One, and More
Chapter 37 The Importance of Having the Right Tools: Measuring Return on Investment, the Power of HubSpot, and More
PART IV – Creating a Culture of Video . . . In-House
Chapter 38 We’re All Media Companies and the Visual Sale
Chapter 39 The Selling 7: 7 Videos That Will Immediately Impact Sales and Closing Rates
Chapter 40 The Selling 7, Video 1: The 80 Percent Video
Chapter 41 The Selling 7, Video 2: Bio Videos for Email Signatures
Chapter 42 The Selling 7, Video 3: Product and Service Fit Videos
Chapter 43 The Selling 7, Video 4: Landing Page Videos
Chapter 44 The Selling 7, Video 5: Cost and Pricing Videos
Chapter 45 The Selling 7, Video 6: Customer Journey Videos
Chapter 46 The Selling 7, Video 7: “Claims We Make” Videos
Chapter 47 Personalized Video for Email: A More Human Approach to Direct Digital Communication
Chapter 48 How to Hire an In-House Videographer
Chapter 49 Team Buy-In on Video, Performance Tips, and Long -Term Success
Chapter 50 Case Study 6: How a Lifting and Rigging Company
Became the Ultimate Example of They Ask, You Answer Success and Culture
PART V – How to Build the Perfect They Ask, You Answer Website
Chapter 51 Real-Time Conversations Are Changing How They’re Asking and We’re Answering
Chapter 52 Self-Selection: The Next Phase of Search, Sales, and the Way We Buy
Chapter 53 Website Priority 1: Proper Homepage Design and Messaging
Chapter 54 Website Priority 2: Obsess Over Honest Education
Chapter 55 Website Priority 3: Premium Education
Chapter 56 Website Priority 4: An Equal Mix of Textual and Visual Content
Chapter 57 Website Priority 5: Self-Selection Tools
Chapter 58 Website Priority 6: Social Proof
Chapter 59 Website Priority 7: Site Speed
PART VI Your Questions Answered
Chapter 60 “How Do I Find More Time to Make This Work Within My Organization?”
Chapter 61 “How Long Will It Take They Ask, You Answer to Work?”
Chapter 62 “Are Content Marketing and They Ask, You Answer Just Fads?”
Chapter 63 “How Can I Keep My Team Engaged in the Content Process?”
Chapter 64 “I’ve Been Told If We’re Not Adding Anything New to the Conversation, Then We Shouldn’t Be Talking About It — Is That Right?”
Chapter 65 “Can I Just Hire an Agency to Do This for Me?”
Chapter 66 “How Can We Afford to Do This?”
Chapter 67 A Revolutionary Marketing Strategy