Have you been given advice that has really stuck with you?
In 2017, my partner Cara and I attended a VIP presentation and book signing event for Simon Sinek. We were right down the front row and had three uninterrupted hours of learning from the man that urged us all to start with why.
Cara is the managing director for her family business Gillies & Mackay who build premier quality timber garden buildings —- sheds, summerhouses, garden rooms, and garages.
During the talk, Simon asked Cara what Gillies & Mackay did, and her answer was: “We build the best sheds in the world.”
Now, arguably she does (disclaimer: we might be a little biased), but how could she know this?
Simon was quick to pick her up on this and said that in order to know that Gillies & Mackay built the best sheds in the world, they would have to test every shed in the world, a physical impossibility. So they can’t state this with certainty.
But what is possible, is to continually strive to be the best.
This lesson really struck a chord with me! And it’s influenced the way that I approach They Ask, You Answer.
Many organizations take on the principles of They Ask, You Answer and think it’s about becoming the best, but the problem with this is that once you believe you are the best you take your foot off the gas. It’s not conducive to continual success.
Now, you’ve seen the case studies. You probably already know that They Ask, You Answer produces results, but, why? Why is They Ask, You Answer such a successful formula in today’s market?
What mechanisms does it tap into that cause a shift in consumer behavior and an increase in sales and marketing?And how can you be sure it is They Ask, You Answer that is causing these and not something else?
These are all valid questions. And ones that many businesses have.
The answer comes back to Simon's comment about striving to be the best. Ultimately, They Ask, You Answer is about the constant drive to try harder, care more, and become the most trustworthy. It’s about aligning with buyers better than we have before.
In this article, I’m going to connect the dots, to help you understand why They Ask, You Answer is such a powerful tool. And why this methodology works so well.
What actually is They Ask, You Answer?
You already know what They Ask, You Answer is, right?
First off, it’s a book by IMPACT partner Marcus Sheridan detailing a revolutionary approach to inbound sales, content marketing, and the digital consumer.
This leads many people to believe that They Ask, You Answer is simply an outline for marketing tactics, but in reality, it’s so much more than that.
The last thing the world needs is just another inbound marketing book; They Ask, You Answer is a philosophy. It is the result of a proven system, a transformative system that not only allowed Marcus to save his pool company, but that saved thousands of organizations across the world.
At its core, They Ask, You Answer is about answering consumers questions honestly so they can make the best purchase decision for themselves.
It’s about confronting the tough questions and being upfront about what people want to know so that those best suited will find you, and those who aren’t will filter themselves out.
I like to think of They Ask, You Answer as a business improvement methodology. The cultural transformation, the fundamental shift to the business. This is why They Ask, You Answer works, but let’s start from the top.
We’re dealing with a different kind of consumer...
The landscape in which businesses operate is changing. It’s certainly very different from how it was 10-15 years ago. People don’t want to make a bad purchase decision and the beauty of the internet is that they don’t have to.
Today, we know that 81% of people start their purchase journey with a web search. And that number is only likely to increase. Buyers are educating themselves. They feel more qualified, more educated, more confident, and truly good about the decision they are about to make when they are informed.
So much so that, on average, 70% of a buying decision is made before a prospect ever talks to a company. And what do you think makes them buy when they do talk to a company?
As Marcus Sheridan says: “We are all in the business of trust.”
While 67% of customers will try a product based on reputation, they will stop buying if they don’t trust the company.
Long-term loyalty is no longer solely about price and features. Approximately 64% of consumers are now belief-driven buyers. Meaning they want to buy from brands that align with them on social and cultural. It’s not just about the product or service.
If you can build trust with your customer outside of these things, they will spend more, stay longer, and refer more future business. Ultimately the buyer has changed and this should influence how we go to market.
How They Ask, You Answer aligns with this new buyer…
Once we understand this change in buyer behavior, it’s easier to see why They Ask, You Answer works and why it is responsible for an increase in leads and sales.
Ultimately They Ask, You Answer works by tapping into two fundamental behavior shifts by:
Aligning with how buyers want to purchase
Building trust with prospects and customers
Aligning with how buyers want to purchase
We’ve already talked about how buyer behavior has changed. They Ask, You Answer works because it helps consumers find the answers to their questions without ever having to speak to anyone.
It does this by creating content around what Marcus calls The Big 5 topics:
Content within these categories frequently outperforms other content, regardless of what industry it publishes in because it focuses on what customers are already asking and looking for. This results in an increase in traffic, leads, and sales.
Following the principles of They Ask, You Answer puts customers in control, as they crave. It allows them to:
Find the answers to the questions that really matter to them (this will be different for every single consumer)
Self-filter (i.e. some organizations will be a good fit for them some will not be)
Choose which company(ies) they would like to contact
As organizations, we can push out marketing messages all day long, but people are no longer as receptive to them as they used to be. The world is noisy and full of endless content, but They Ask, You Answer content focuses stands out by helping and educating, not selling.
Building trust with the consumer
Trust in brands is more important than ever, yet still only 34% of consumers say they trust the brands they use.
When not many organizations are able to, They Ask, You Answer taps into this trust need and fulfills it by answering the “tough questions.”
Let’s use the price/cost component of The Big 5 as an example to illustrate this. Marcus uses the following example in his book.
Imagine you go into a brick and mortar store and ask for the price, but the sales assistants refuse. Not only is it rude, it instantly makes you distrustful. What are they trying to hide?
In this situation, you would likely leave and go somewhere else, where they were upfront and honest about the price.
Why? Because honesty and transparency builds trust. It’s the exact same scenario with online businesses.
This is why They Ask, You Answer is so powerful. By answering the tough questions you know your customers are going to have, you display a willingness to be upfront, open, and honest.
You show you’re not just trying to cheat anyone and everyone out of their money. You want to make sure whoever buys from you will actually get value. The consumer recognizes this and, in turn, trusts you.
They are more likely to buy from you again, are more loyal to the brand, will advocate for the brand, and even defend the brand and their reputation in some instances.
This isn’t a sales or marketing philosophy
To understand why They Ask, You Answer works, you first have to understand one fundamental truth: They Ask, You Answer is not a sales or marketing philosophy; It is a business improvement process that taps into the way in which buyer behavior has changed.
Ultimately, They Ask, You Answer isn’t about making noise for the sake of it.
It’s about giving consumers what they want from a brand — answers and trust — and that is why it works.
Its core purpose is focussed on helping consumers make a decision in a way that suits them, in a way that puts them in control. It puts consumers at the core. It taps straight into what matters to them and it builds trust by answering the questions that they need to know before making a purpose.
You cannot think about They Ask, You Answer tactically. It’s a continual process of business improvement that takes place over a minimum of eighteen months, and ultimately becomes an integral part of your business.
This is why They Ask, You Answer gets results.
It continually challenges people to do and be better. It pushes you to become a world class digital marketing company.
Just as Simon Sinek says, you can always improve, you can always challenge yourself to be better. But you can never assume you are the best. That is at the core of They Ask, You Answer success.