First off, if you haven’t heard of Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion), then you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining and eye-opening speakers there is. I think the big thing that separates him from the rest of the social media / content marketing speakers out there, is that while most people talk theory, he talks practical application.
Marcus is one of the owners of River Pools and Spas, a fiberglass pool company located in Virginia. In 2008, his business was declining with the start of the recession and he knew that if he didn’t make a change, his business might fail. He was spending over $250,000 per year on traditional marketing (radio, adwords, television, etc.) and decided that he needed to switch things up. Marcus decided to give inbound marketing a shot and within a short amount of time was able to decrease his marketing costs from $250k to under $25k a year and increase his revenue year over year.
Marcus’s presentation at Blog World 2011 was my first introduction to inbound marketing and since then I’ve been able to prove my own success with inbound marketing by following his advice.
1. Become a Teacher, Sales will follow- “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair.” This quote is truer now than ever as consumers can find out almost anything about your company in a matter of clicks. As many traditional companies are finding out, the old way of holding back information from your customers is only hurting business. The new way of business is all about helping others and becoming a teacher. Providing valuable content to your target audience while they’re in the research phase of the buying cycle builds trust. When that same person decides to make a purchase, it’s likely that they will come back to you. Why, you might ask? Because many of your competitors aren’t teachers- they’re only concerned about the hard sell. If you’re the thought leader in your industry educating your audience about everything there is to know about your product or service- most likely, you’ll be the one that they trust and ultimately buy from.
2. “Most businesses think they have a “secret sauce” but in reality it’s nothing more than thousand island dressing”- You’ll get the reference to this quote if you watch Marcus’s Ted talk- but what he’s referring to is talking about the things that most businesses are scared of talking about on their website. Price of your product or service, who the competition is, the drawbacks of your product or service, etc. The first blog post that Marcus wrote for River Pools and Spas was titled “How much does a fiberglass pool cost.” That post alone was attributed to more than $1.7M in sales for the company. Why? Because most companies are afraid to address cost online and it’s one of the first questions you’re asked from people on a sales call. So what happened when people went to research the cost of a fiberglass pool? Yep, you guessed it… River Pools and Spas came up number one in the search results and people began to build trust with the company because he was honest, transparent and none of the competition was addressing the number 1 question.
View Marcus’s Ted Talk (it’s worth your time):
3. Less isn’t always more- During his presentation Marcus asks the audience: “how many pages on a website do you think someone reads prior to making a purchase?” Many people guessed that visitors read between 5-10 pages but the magic number for his company was 30 pages. If someone read 30 pages on his website and then had a sales consultation, his close rate would be over 80%. As an online marketer, there is no way I would have ever thought someone would read 30 pages on a website. Most marketers and business owners think that no one reads anymore- therefore most business websites only have about 10 pages. Make sure you’re providing enough content on your website to satisfy your customer’s thirst for knowledge. The lesson here: Don’t make your website an online brochure, make your website the wikipedia of your industry.
Do you agree with these lessons? Why or why not? Has your company tried practicing these principles, what has been the success?
Let us know in the comment section below.