At this point, you have completed one of the most important steps to creating a successful business blog. You’ve brainstormed a long list of questions that your customers, prospects and/or colleagues have asked you.
These questions will become the fuel for your blogging efforts. We’ll turn each question into a blog post title. The content for the blog post will be your answer to the question. Pretty simple, right?
But does this actually work? The answer is a resounding yes.
But don’t take my word for it. Over the course of the next 3 days, let’s look at some case studies of businesses who have adopted this mindset of “They Ask, You Answer” as made popular by the amazing Marcus Sheridan, the person who started the “they ask, you answer” movement.
So let’s get started with the first case study:
- COMPANY: BLOCK IMAGINING INTERNATIONAL
- INDUSTRY: B2B (business to business) selling refurbished MRI equipment worldwide
- EMPLOYEES: ~80
- LOCATION: Michigan USA
For those of you not familiar with Block Imaging, we love their story. They are one of our favorite case studies of how to succeed with blogging and inbound marketing. We’ve profiled Block Imaging in the past and have interviewed their inspiring Vice President of Marketing, Krista Kotrla. And their story continues to get better and better.
So why do we love their story? For a number of reasons – let me give you three quick points:
- Because they work in a niche B2B industry where many feeling blogging cannot be valuable (but in reality, almost every industry and topic can benefit from blogging)
- Their blog continues to grow in value and impact for both their customers and their business even though they started it in 2011 (the benefits are residual)
- They are changing people’s lives – and literally saving lives with their content. How amazing is that?
In 2011, Block decided to start blogging. As is typical of many businesses, only 1 person in the entire business was responsible for the blog. Was one person in the company responsible for answering every customer question? Of course not. Many people, including those in sales, marketing, engineering, etc. were handling questions on a regular basis. But the mindset was (and often is) to hand the job of running the blog to one person. The truth of the matter is, if you have multiple people working on your team, there is a good chance you should have multiple contributing to your blog.
Unfortunately, the “one person” approach means that one person who is blogging doesn’t have the knowledge or even the ability to know all the customer questions. So, for Block Imaging, the website and the blog ends up being of limited value to the company. The website wasn’t a powerful teaching resource and therefore it wasn’t generating much business. Yes, it was somewhat helpful, but it wasn’t providing the return Block was hoping for. Here are the numbers:
PRE-CONTENT MARKETING/BLOGGING (2011)
- 1 person blogging
- 7,000 web visits/month
- 4,000 visits from organic search
- 10 quality sales prospects coming from the website
- 5% of sales coming from web leads
Not bad, but they knew people were doing more and more of their purchasing decision-making online, they needed to have a more powerful presence online.
Then the Block leadership team decided to go all in.
They decided to adopt the “they ask, you answer” mindset and make their blog a true teaching tool. After all, if people were seeking information online, as we’ve previously discussed, why not provide those answers online? They did exactly what we are talking about. They got together as a team, listed all their customer questions, and got to answering them.
And everyone in the company could participate in answering those questions. Over time, they did just that.
Using text, videos, and downloadable ebooks, they created content their customers would find useful. And since Block was providing objective, non-salesy content, people trusted them and felt confident reaching out to them. Basically, they had used Block’s content, provided via their blog, to pre-screen Block as a potential vendor. And customers did this all without ever reaching out to a salesperson
So what were the results of this shift to answering customer questions online? Was it worth the time and effort Block had to put in?
CONTENT MARKETING/BLOGGING RESULTS (2013)
- 60+ people contributing content to blogs and videos (up from 1)
- 60,000 web visits/month (up from 7,000)
- 42,000 visits from organic search (up from 4,000)
- 880 quality sales prospects coming from the website (up from 10)
- 40% of sales coming from web leads (up from 5%)
This change in mind-set and focus has led to millions of dollars in new sales coming in via their blog and their website. So the answer is yes, the effort has been and continues to be worth it.
Begin writing out answers for at least 5 customer questions. Don’t worry about being perfec; focus on being HELPFUL. Of course we want to be professional with what we create, but our goal isn’t to create an award-winning novel, it’s to help people. So just focus on getting this done. Remember, done trumps perfection every time!