In today’s post you’re going to learn about the big five, a framework for creating content by Marcus Sheridan (author of the book They Ask, You Answer).
You see, most people don’t create content for one of two reasons:
- They feel like they don’t have time
- They don’t know what on earth they’ll ever write about
I firmly believe writers block, mental block, or any other “block” preventing you from creating content is a myth. It’s an excuse made up by people that subconsciously don’t actually want to carve out the time commitment or effort required to write.
I am literally proof of this concept. For 10 years I’ve been the owner of Mediavandals. For most of that time I’ve been the one handling marketing, admin and sales. And for all of that time, I KNEW I should be creating content, but used BOTH of those excuses as a reason not to. Heck, I even took the time to write a 500 word blog post at the start of 2018, sent it out via newsletter to all of our past clients and landed a paying gig out of it within a day.
This PROVED the theory that creating content will eventually generate sales. I even said to myself “Wow, this actually works, I should send out newsletters monthly!”. And then guess what I did? You’re right, I did nothing.. I reverted back to the two reasons listed above.
And then I read They Ask, You Answer and have smashed out 67 videos in the last 67 days. You see, the truth about writers block, mental block, not knowing what to write about and all the other “blocks”, is that you really just need a framework.
What is a framework? Websters dictionary says a framework is:
a basic conceptional structure (as of ideas)
Cambridge dictionary lists this as
a system of rules, ideas, or beliefs that is used to plan or decide something
Once you have a framework, the task no longer seems so daunting. Just like learning your job, how to ride a bike, playing baseball, or any other activity that requires consistency and practice, the more you implement this framework and start your writing, the faster and better you’ll get at it.
Now I’m not saying you’ll become a New York Times bestselling author (especially not over night), and you’re first videos or blog posts may downright suck (mine did).. but just like anything else in life, you will get better at it the more you do it.
So what exactly is this framework Marcus shares with us in his book?
It is a really good way to quickly figuring out a bunch of ideas surrounding questions that your customers (or potential customers) may have about your business or industry that can be used in creating content and videos. His hypothesis is that by answering these questions through content on your website or YouTube channel, you’ll begin to be viewed as the authority among your competitors while at the same time educating your clients. Educated clients can make informed decisions, and by the time they engage you for your product or service, most will be ready to make the purchase.
Marcus tested and proved his hypothesis to be correct when he used it in his own (failing) business River Pools & Spas. The year was 2008 and his business was quite successful, he was a great salesman and it turns out he was pretty good at selling pools. And then the financial crisis hit and a $50,000 dollar pool was the last thing anyone would be spending money on as the real estate market crashed and the recession began.
Marcus began obsessing about the questions clients had surrounding purchasing and owning a pool and strived to answer them as honestly and fully as possible. He would answer each question in the form of a blog post on his company’s website. Marcus and his partner were not writers, and they definitely couldn’t afford to pay a content writer, so they took on the task of answering these questions on the company blog themselves.
What he discovered was by educating potential customers not only about the type of pools they sold (fibreglass), but also about other types of pools (Concrete, Vinyl, Shipping Container etc.) – as well as which situation each pool type would be best for, who the best pool companies were (purposely leaving his company OFF on the list), and what the costs associated with pools were in an honest and open manor, 80% of clients ready to purchase by the time he attended the initial sales call.
You see, most businesses avoid asking questions about cost or competition because they’re afraid they might loose the sale, or their competitors will see their “secret formula” for doing business and steal it.
But here is the thing:
- Your competitors are in the same industry as you, chances are they already KNOW what you’re doing in charging because THEY ARE DOING IT TOO!
- If you don’t answer your customers questions, they WILL find the answer online somewhere else, and you’ll look untrustworthy. If you’re afraid of loosing a sale by revealing your price, then educate your customer on why your service costs what it does. If they still aren’t ready to buy, an in person “price reveal” isn’t going to change that. Period.
The “Big Five” Marcus discovered are the 5 best business blog topics that drive traffic, leads, and sales. They are answers to the question areas that all customers want to know about before making the decision to purchase. And once you start giving the answers to any questions you’ve ever received around these areas, you’re sales WILL increase.
Take out a 5 sheets of paper and write down the following headings, 1 per sheet:
- Cost and pricing
- Problems (your customers and yours)
- Comparisons and Versus
- Best of lists (best in class, best practices etc)
Now start writing down questions about your industry that fall under each heading. Here is an example of Versus for the Web Industry:
- Squarespace vs Wix
- Wix vs Weebly
- Do It Yourself vs Agency
- WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
- Social Media vs Business Website
The above 5 literally took me 3 seconds to come up with. As the expert in your industry, you know what the questions surrounding each of these topics are, I guarantee it! You’ve just never sat down and put pen to paper.
Go through the process for each heading and think of at lease 20 topics for each heading. You don’t need to do it all in one sitting, but once you start, you’ll be amazed to discover you have more ideas than you thought possible. If you do 20 for each, you’ll now have the topics for your next 100 videos or blogs.
I did this exact exercise and it provided me with enough ideas for content that I started a 100 Videos in 100 Days Challenge, which you can check out here, I’m currently on day 67. If you enjoy the videos, please click the subscribe and help me get to 100 subscribers so I can claim my channel name, I’d be massively grateful.
In the next post, I’ll show you the framework for taking these ideas and easily turning them into Blogs and/or Videos.
Leave me a comment on this post and let me know how you made out!