How Marcus Sheridan blew my mind on blogging…
About a year ago, I sat in the audience over lunch and listened to Marcus Sheridan talk about how he changed his life from pool guy, in ground fiberglass pool guy to be specific, to the Sales Lion. I was an avid believer that blogging, tweeting and social media were a complete waste of my life, resources and time and had no real idea how in the world someone could turn those efforts into online inbound marketing. After 1 hour and several enticing pictures of big macs I was 100% hooked and became a believer that Marcus is a genius. First, he is a great speaker – I think I have seen him 6 or 7 times now and I still can sit through it loving every minute. I can’t even watch a movie twice other than “The Usual Suspects”. Following the speech – I went home and attempted to turn a 1 hour speech into an inbound marketing engine for a very, very niche market.
Ongoing Operations provides secure cloud computing and disaster recovery services for highly regulated businesses – specifically financial institutions. While there are more than 10,000 financial institutions, most of the world has no idea what kinds of things they search on. I started my first blog when I got back to my desk using Marcus’s simple formula – Answer your customer’s questions. My first question – How do I get to the Cloud? It was terrible. Not just bad, but when I looked back a few months later it had lots of spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. There were sentences that didn’t make sense. Want to know something crazy – it ranked number 2 behind Apple. If you are like me – WHAT? How is that even possible? That post changed my world and my company’s world too.
The cool thing is that this secret formula isn’t just for tech companies, marketing wizards or pool shop owners – your credit union can apply essentially the same formula and expect the same results. How? Anyplace you see “customer” in the outline below, simply substitute “MEMBER” and “company/business” to “credit union”. It’s really that simple.
Here is the end message from Marcus – If you answer your customers (members) questions – online and honestly and then do lots of secret stuff that Marcus is a genius on – it can change your business (credit union) overnight. This month we have received over 100 inbound leads from customers…when we started we averaged 2 a month. The leads we are getting are for all of the right potential customers too…not just a bunch of random people. The end result when all of the pieces are put in place is an inbound marketing engine that sucks in prospects, qualifies them, educates, and spits out customers that are the perfect fit. Here is the formula as I don’t think Marcus does a great job of explaining how to put it all together.
A) Start Blogging (don’t be proud just try anything)
B) Follow Marcus’s suggestions on keeping it simple (don’t try to be SMRT – this is a Simpsons reference), adding images, using Hubspot, and tracking key words, tagging etc.
C) Have a blog – a- thon and get as many blogs written as quickly as possible
D) Sort through and figure out what is working – rewrite and clean-up the bad blogs while continuing to try new ones
E) Once you have enough content – create some eBooks, get some cool eBook covers made, and tie your content together in themes
F) Start creating CTA (calls to action) throughout your website that pushes the eBooks, blog subscriptions, and other stuff throughout your website
G) Go back and review where you started and continue to edit, link, and refine your prior approaches – learn from your mistakes
H) We aimed for getting 10 eBooks on the website with 10 CTAs throughout
I) Remember to stop trying to be smart and just answer their questions
J) Build a campaign to groom the leads – once you get it right – build three more – tweak the first one – then build one for all 10 eBooks
K) Make your sales team give you customer questions and never give them an e-mail to forward to a client – just a link to a post you did
L) Start all over and continually enhance and refine what you did
In my experience, the whole thing needs to operate on a continuous learning and improvement cycle. You have to start some place and it may as well be at bad…you can always get better. The good news is – if you are like us – nobody was reading your stuff when it was bad. Now they are and it is better. Tomorrow you will have more readers and it will need to get to match your audience. If you never start, you will never get there.
Today, our niche website generates about 3 leads a day and our web traffic has almost tripled in a year. Our most popular terms are for things like FFIEC Guidance on IT Exams…who would think to search or write content on that? Well, financial institution CTOs (our primary customers) search on that regularly. Today we own #1, 2, or 3 on over 150 keywords – most specific to our niche market. The brand recognition and buzz we create in the industry is huge because we are the ONLY ones writing content for our niche market. Take it from me – Marcus is crazy and brilliant and if you follow his formula it will make a huge difference for your company/credit union.