They Ask You Answer: Great Book summary for business owners

Written by
Nick Burrage

Can ‘They Ask You Answer’ make a difference to my company? This summary is designed for business owners to give them a taste of Marcus Sheridan’s key ideas and to understand the difference that one book can make to a typical SME. The typical successful company is sized from £500k to £50million turnover.

The Key Concepts

  1. 99% of today’s companies have outdated ideas about marketing. They would rather shout marketing stuff at people while the people try to ignore them.
  2. An equal number of companies think that ignoring scary questions such as ‘ how much is your service?’ or ‘Are there any problems with your product?” is clever marketing.
  3. Your company may also think that the only way to get Google to promote your site is to pay them.

We learn in the book that the key to success is to build a library of answers on your website to answer questions falling into the ‘big five areas’ and then to build content that educates your prospects around all matters in your sector.

From the book ( p.21) :

‘When a company embraces They Ask You answer, they believe It's their duty to be the teacher, the go-to source within the particular industry. One that's not afraid to answer any and every question the prospect or customer may have for them tomorrow obligation to provide this level of education regardless of whether the question is perceived as good bad or even ugly’

They Ask You Answer Part 1: ‘A very different way of looking at business, marketing and trust’

In this section we meet our hero (Marcus Sheridan) at his lowest - his pool company faces ruin in the aftermath of the 2008 stock market crash.

Marcus has little knowledge of the internet and certainly no money. So he investigated at length on how he could use the web to help sell pools in the face of a recession.

His learnings inspire him to write a blog on his company website that everyone told him was a terrible, awful idea. He wrote a piece called ‘ How much will my swimming pool cost?’.

It was a guide for prospective pool owners that told with absolute honesty the likely spend on their pool. Nobody had ever done it in the industry.

That single blog post went on to create over $9 million in pool sales.

The book has gone on to sell tens of thousands of copies and over 20 companies have also graduated from full They Ask You Answer coaching in the US - seeing a huge ROI on their investment of some $200,000. There are currently 85 companies in the newly created training scheme with more graduating every month. In March 2022 coaching was launched in the UK  - with Nick here at The Ambitions Agency  - and is also live in Norway and shortly Australia too. 

Part 1 includes a case study of CarMax and a high-end B2B technology company which generated more than $8 million in additional revenue using They Ask You Answer.

Marcus goes on to address the big 5 topics:  Price, Problems, Versus and Comparisons and Reviews and Best in Class.

One of my personal favourites is the idea of reviewing the competition on the company website as this usually has CEO's and marketing people fainting until they realise the benefits including the fact that they steal a lot of their competitors Google traffic!

See Marcus introduce principles 1- 3 

Part 2:  the impact of They Ask You Answer on sales teams

It may come as a surprise to you but the use of great content doesn't stop when the prospect hits the website  - the book explains how using content in the sales process is a game changer for the sales team as it saves them time and makes conversion more likely.

On a  personal note, the big win here is that the sales team are no longer beggars at the table of the rich prospect but they're treated as equals, as experts to be trusted  - a huge mental health boost for anyone involved in sales.

Marcus discovered that when prospects had read many pages of his site (at least 30 pages) they were highly likely to convert. If they had read just one or two then a sales person was almost certainly wasting their time.

Marcus therefore created a rule: If a prospect had not read 30 pages they would be made to read 30 pages of content before he would meet them. No exceptions. And so the phrase ‘Assignment Selling’ was born!

Here’s a cool video Summary of They Ask You Answer

Part 3 Implementation and making it a culture

Of course the difficulty with They Ask You Answer is not really understanding the book but implementing it in the business - it is very difficult. This is why so many companies are currently paying Impact, Marcus’s US agency, over $200,000 each to be coached through the implementation process and it's why we offer coaching Certified by Marcus in the UK. ( at considerably less cost).

The book addresses implementation as best it can and the outline here is that a content manager - a single accountable person -  is required as an absolute necessity. The book details how to hire, what to look for and there is also detail here on the importance of having the right tools such as Hubspot.

Part 4:  creating a culture of video in-house

Given that 80% of people's time on the internet is spent watching videos then we need to be creating videos if we are to educate, inform and humanise our brand 

This section talks about the seven types of videos that every company will need from the ‘80% video’ that covers (you guessed it) 80% of the questions you’re likely to be asked through to the short bio video which introduces each team member.

There is also information on how to hire an in-house videographer.

Part 5   How to build the perfect They Ask You Answer website

With the website as the key part of the sales funnel it is vital that it performs well and this section covers the main topics to consider  - from proper homepage design and messaging through to maintaining an equal mix of text and video content, adding social proof and of course some technical details such as site speed.

Key notes: 

  • Build a learning centre
  • Have a ‘price’ tab on main menu
  • Offer self-service options
  • Address all the major questions 
  • Mix video and text 50:50

Part 6  Your questions answered

In this section Marcus wants to answer your questions questions such as: ‘How long will it take They Ask You Answer to work?’ and  ‘How can I keep my team engaged in the content process?’ and of course: ‘Can I just hire an agency to do this for me?’

As a sneak preview of his answer to the last question I will say that the answer is absolutely ‘no’ -  because great content, really engaging, authentic honest content Is far better created by someone embedded in the business. 

In a commercial sense it is also much better to be building a self-sufficient business than one which relies endlessly on external agencies.

End of Book Resources

Here we find some handy items notably the ‘grade yourself’ scorecard  on They Ask You Answer which is a lot of fun and a great way to plan the work ahead.

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