Back in 2008, Marcus Sheridan found himself on the brink of financial ruin when the market collapsed.
Nearly $250,000 in "guaranteed" revenue for his swimming pool company vanished in 48 hours as nervous consumers pulled the plug on their pool builds.
Marcus knew he had to make a change and fast.
So, he developed a revolutionary digital marketing strategy to increase leads and sales at his pool company — creating content online that answered the questions of his ideal buyers, no matter how uncomfortable those questions made him.
The principles of They Ask, You Answer have formed the foundation of the digital marketing strategies for some of our most successful real-world case studies here at IMPACT.
They are examples of what can be achieved when a company invests and commits to a long-term digital marketing strategy that is truly obsessed with the customer.
But, success isn’t free.
Everything from the salaries you pay new employees to what you're tech stack may cost, this article will be an honest look at what it costs to succeed with They Ask, You Answer. This includes:
What digital marketing success looks like today
What They Ask, You Answer success costs
The time commitment needed to get there
In today's economic climate, what does a digital marketing success story look like?
Less than a decade ago, if you were looking for many products, you would visit a local store and speak to a sales representative face-to-face in order to research what you were looking for.
However, over the last decade, there has been a monumental shift in how consumers buy. Today, buyers seek information they can consume freely, on-demand — and then they reach out to businesses when they're ready.
The most successful business teams in nearly every industry recognize this.
On average, 70% of a buying decision is already made before a prospect even talks to a company. In other words, they’re looking for answers and researching on their own.
The home furnishings industry, for example, is no different.
That’s why La-Z-Boy Southeast embraced They Ask, You Answer after they heard Marcus Sheridan speak about it at an event for like-minded business leaders.
Soon after, they formed their own content marketing team, including a content manager and a videographer, and began working to become the most trusted source of information for people looking for answers to their furniture shopping questions.
By doing so, La-Z-Boy’s organic traffic is now 2,751% higher than it was before they started with their new strategy and they can attribute over $3 million in revenue in a single quarter to content marketing.
Here at IMPACT, we have helped hundreds of companies increase revenue and realize their company vision using the principles of They Ask, You Answer.
Simply put, They Ask, You Answer is a true obsession with understanding how your customer thinks about buying and putting the information they need in regards to that in front of them.
Fundamentally, it’s a framework, not just an arbitrary set of digital marketing tactics employed for some quick wins. They Ask, You Answer is an approach to communication, company culture, and a way of selling that puts your customers firmly in the center.
Becoming part of the hall of fame isn’t easy
You have to be willing to go further than your Average Joe. On top of that, company attitude and buy-in across all teams is crucial to success.
They Ask, You Answer is hard work, and you have to be committed to creating high-quality content.
You have to be willing to address the good, the bad, and the ugly of your industry in the most honest, open, and transparent way possible, even when that challenges the status quo and conventions of your industry.
IMPACT client, Yale Appliances became the “Yelp for kitchen appliances” by tackling crucial, but difficult topics, such as:
Topics like these aren’t always easy to cover, and you run the risk of upsetting suppliers or competitors. They are, however, essential in order to allow your customer to make the best decision for them. And that dedication is the very core of They Ask, You Answer.
Those wanting to become a world-class They Ask, You Answer case study also need to be aware that the journey is never complete.
After two years of working with IMPACT and publishing a minimum of 10 high-quality blogs and videos per month, IMPACT client Office Interiors is not slowing down and as a result they continue to see their website traffic, leads, and sales increase.
They are averaging 14,000 website visitors per month and 150 marketing qualified leads each year. And they generated over $1 million in revenue last year.
In their own words:
“We’ll continue to work with IMPACT. If they can get us these kinds of results in two years of working with them, what will another two years look like?”
Becoming a They Ask, You Answer success story is an enticing prospect.
The rewards it can deliver are business-changing. But it’s a long, maybe never-ending journey that requires motivation, a commitment to succeed, and in most cases, a budget.
How much does it cost to become a world-class They Ask, You Answer case study?
First, let’s address the very real possibility that you could become a They Ask, You Answer case study with a limited budget.
Following the They Ask, You Answer framework does not need to be an expensive process.
If you utilize existing in-house staff, and draw upon the questions you know the customers are already asking, creating content for your website and amplifying its impact on social media can be done with little or no budget.
Keep in mind, though, that people on your team will need to devote time and effort to They Ask, You Answer, which will pull them away from other things.
It’s not easy, but if your need to grow is strong and if you can dedicate the time needed to answer your customer’s questions, you can implement They Ask, You Answer with very little or no budget.
Inbound marketing is the great equalizer. Those willing to shift their mindset and do the work can make a quantum leap in their industry and bypass their largest competitors.
But let me say plainly, the DIY approach is far from an ideal situation. You are likely to experience frustration and a whole lot of trial and error, causing results to come more slowly.
To see the greatest results, you need guidance
Many of our clients see the value of They Ask, You Answer and try to self-implement the framework.
Without the guidance of an outside expert, they struggle to see results.
For instance, before partnering with IMPACT, Office Interiors decided to self-implement They Ask, You Answer.
After a self-confessed lackluster attempt, only 4% of their website views were coming from the blog.
They realized they needed to do better.
Yes, Marcus Sheridan was able to achieve success at River Pools with no budget and no experience, but that involved a lot of trial and error too.
Today, IMPACT leads clients to They Ask, You Answer success much more rapidly than what Marcus experienced when he developed the framework.
They are able to take advantage of what he has already learned the hard way.
If you really want to commit to your business becoming a world-class example of They Ask, You Answer within the next 12-18 months, then you will want to invest in the whole package to give yourself the very best shot of replicating the success seen by Marcus and our past and current clients.
‘Right, but how much will it cost?’
Nailing down exact costs for implementing the philosophy is tricky as there are so many tangential and indirect costs as well as direct costs.
For instance, HubSpot reported that inbound marketing-focused companies spend 46% of their marketing budget on content creation alone, so it forms a sizable chunk of your existing budget.
A ballpark figure for fully throwing yourself in at the deep end in terms of training, consultancy, web redevelopment, and software costs could be over $300,000 - $350,000 to become a world-class case study in around 12-18 months.
‘Wow, uh, that's a really big number…’
You might be thinking to yourself that with a number like that, you can't do this. There is no way you can spend that kind of money.
First, I want you to ask yourself:
“What is my company's current marketing budget?”
If you are reading this, I’m willing to bet your current sales and marketing strategy isn’t working out. So, is it possible to redistribute the budget that is currently being spent on failing strategies toward They Ask, You Answer?
When you begin to frame it like this, $300,000 might not seem so far out of reach.
Plus, it’s important to note that these costs are for the full package:
Building your team with the right people
Giving them the right training
Equipping them with the right tools
Developing your website
In short, this is what you would need to spend if you were to implement everything we recommend and throw everything you have at becoming a world-class case study in the next 12-18 months.
Our case study companies like Berry Insurance, Applied Educational Systems, Aquila, Yale Appliance, and Mazzella, have all successfully doubled (or even tripled) their annual revenue by fully embracing the principles of They Ask, You Answer and working with IMPACT.
How to invest your budget
You'll need to understand what a $300,000+ investment looks like. And, if your budget is lower, a breakdown of costs will help you understand what you might be able to forgo.
To implement They Ask, You Answer you will likely need to spend money on:
Building the right team
1. Building the right team
The biggest challenge to succeeding with They Ask, You Answer with your current team is that everyone on that team already has a full-time job.
Sure, you can have your existing staff redirect some of their time to content creation, but the second something more important comes along the content will go on the back-burner.
Your content manager
If you want to see world-class results from inbound marketing then we recommend hiring or appointing an in-house content manager to take ownership of the content creation process.
This role will be dedicated to ensuring that a minimum of three pieces of content are published on your blog each week. That’s more than 150 new pieces of content published on your website and driving organic search traffic per year.
West Roofing Systems is a great example of a company that implemented this advice and saw a 1200% increase in web traffic and an 828% increase in lead conversion.
The salary for a good content manager will vary depending on industry and experience, but it will likely cost you around $65,000 per year.
By the end of this year, it's estimated that 80% of content consumed worldwide will be video content. So, nailing video content creation is essential, and the best way to do this is to hire an in-house videographer.
Combining this with the content manager will allow your business to create powerful video content that drives revenue.
Again, the salary for this role will vary depending on your industry and the experience of the candidate, but it will likely cost around$52,000 per year.
Depending on the size of your company and how much content you require, you might need to hire more than these two roles, but this is the minimum staffing we recommend for our clients to see world-class success with They Ask, You Answer.
The approximate salary cost over 12 months is $117,000.
2. Company-wide training
With your team assembled, you need all the relevant parties within your company to know why They Ask, You Answer is important, what will be expected of them, and how exactly you are going to create content that moves the sales needle.
The No. 1 reason why marketing strategies fail is lack of buy-in from sales and leadership.
You might be lucky enough to have a company that instantly understands the need for They Ask, You Answer and embraces the culture, but most companies need a little push over the line to ensure funding and full enablement of the initiatives.
Jack from IMPACT client West Roofing Systems said it best:
“You NEED to get buy-in. One person cannot carry the torch for the whole company. It really is a team effort.”
The first step to getting your team on board is to give everyone the book and make sure they read it. You could even set up a They Ask, You Answer book club to make sure everyone gets the most from the reading.
IMPACT's They Ask, You Answer Mastery program begins with an inbound culture workshop to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Your dedicated coach will oversee all aspects of your strategy, training, and execution.
With the team in place and the coach ready to go, it’s time to begin strategy development and training.
To be truly world-class, we recommend hitting the ground running. You will develop your quarterly goals with your dedicated coach and account manager.
They Ask, You Answer Mastery clients, on average, invest about $8,500-$15,000 per month for 12-18 months. This cost could increase depending on your specific website needs, which we'll cover next.
We've found that having a coach is an essential component of your development. After all, Serena Williams knows how to hit a ball, but do you think that means she forgoes a coach? No, of course not.
Just like a pro athlete employs a coach to help them identify blind spots, the coaches at IMPACT will help you pinpoint areas of your business strategy that need work, provide ongoing training and reviews, and keep you accountable.
The approximate cost of coaching and training over your first 12 months is $130,000.
3. Website redevelopment
Your website is the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy. Hopefully, you already have one, but realistically, it might not perform the way that you need it to in order to become a world-class digital marketing case study.
There may be some additional features required.
The goal of a They Ask, You Answer website is to create a marketing machine that is able to get you sales-ready leads without any human-to-human interaction.
So, you need to make sure that website visitors will be able to find the content that answers their questions within seconds.
For some clients, this means we build a learning center on their website to help visitors find what they need.
In other cases, clients will need a totally redesigned website.
However, we never sell a website if a client is not ready for it. A new website without a solid content strategy will not drive qualified traffic.
So, your website costs will depend on your needs.
A learning center comes with a one-time fee of $5,000.
If you redevelop your website with IMPACT, the cost can range from $55,000 to over $75,000, depending on how big and complex your site needs to be.
This is a big range, but we'll take an average: The approximate cost over 12 months is $65,000 if you need a new website.
4. Software investment
Your team will need the right tools to get their work done. Your needs may vary, but here's what we recommend:
HubSpot is our digital marketing automation of choice, and we believe that it is essential to amplifying the impact of content, and being able to accurately track the return on investment content marketing is having.
Of course, there are many other digital sales and marketing software applications available that will solve the same problems as HubSpot, but are they the best tools to help you be successful with They Ask, You Answer?
By giving you the ability to create content, publish it to your website and social media, email it to your audience, and see how and when your prospects engage with it in their buyer’s journey all in one place, HubSpot makes using They Ask, You Answer more cohesive and easy to manage.
IMPACT has a team of certified HubSpot trainers to help your organization get all it can from HubSpot's platform.
HubSpot offers sales, marketing, and services hubs, as well as video and web hosting options.
On average, our clients spend $18,000 per year on HubSpot
On top of HubSpot, we recommendVidyard for recording, sharing, and hosting videos. Most of our clients spend $300 per month on this service.
Again, your needs will depend on your circumstances, but you can expect an average software cost of around $22,000.
The ‘cost’ of time
Above is an overview of the financial cost of implementing They Ask, You Answer on the trajectory to becoming a world-class case study. But, of course, finance isn’t the only cost.
The time commitment required to become a world-class case study is also substantial.
As I’ve mentioned, They Ask, You Answer is hard work and it can be expensive to implement it effectively, so return on investment will play a massive factor in deciding whether it’s appropriate for your company.
If you are looking for an overnight return then They Ask, You Answer might not be the strategy for you.
The principles of They Ask, You Answer are founded in building trust, and trust isn’t built overnight.
That’s one of the reasons we recommend hiring dedicated staff to ensure you are able to produce the volume of high-quality content necessary to start seeing results as quickly as possible.
Not only that, but They Ask, You Answer requires a time commitment from everyone across the entire sales, marketing, and leadership team.
The overall financial cost to become a world-class digital marketing case study will be around $300,000 for your first 12 months, plus the time commitment to see it through.
It’s a big investment – we know that. But you have the potential to follow in the footsteps of companies that have doubled or even tripled their revenue.
Are you ready to become a world-class digital marketing case study?
The companies that see the greatest results from They Ask, You Answer are those that fully commit to implementing it. They embrace the culture throughout the entire organization.
While Marcus has shown us that it is entirely possible to implement They Ask, You Answer without a budget, if you want to become a world-class case study within 12-18 months, then it is going to cost between $300,000 and $350,000.
It’s a big investment, but the potential value that it could bring to your business is monumental.
If you don’t have that budget right now, don’t worry. We have whole libraries of free learning content to get your team started on your They Ask, You Answer journey.
Having the mindset and the willingness to implement They Ask, You Answer is the most important thing. As long as you have that we can work with you to outline the scope of your project and implement the philosophy in a way that works for your business.