DivvyHQ Book Club: They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

 In Content Marketing, Content Planning

Bold Move: Starting your book with a chapter called “The Fall”

Instantly, I am intrigued. Any author/teacher/figure of authority that starts with a humbling chapter about a time when they thought their business was going to go under, has my attention!

“They Ask You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan is a call-to-action/guided manifesto to help brand marketers become the subject matter expert/teacher your consumers are so desperately searching for!

Think back to high school and college. Who were the teachers that made a difference? Who did you like and trust? So many companies are on the “Beuller” teacher level.

Companies often have no clue as to who their audience really is and they’re just talking into the vast back whole of the interwebs, and to what end? To hear themselves talk? To appease the content marketing Gods who are proclaiming the vast power of publishing more and more content?

I am reminded of the lyrics from a Pink Floyd song, “Hello, is anybody out there?” We have all had those teachers, memorable for all the wrong reasons!

They Ask You Answer introduces a few wacky concepts like making organizations the teachers of their industries, being transparent with their consumer, and producing content they want to read.

So…What Do They Want to Read?

To answer that question, let’s take a closer look at the They Ask You Answer philosophy: Become obsessed with your consumer.


What are they thinking, feeling, searching for? What are they asking? What do they fear? When Marcus says obsessed he means it!

Following this philosophy means putting the consumer above everything. Making it the duty of the organization to teach the consumer and be the “go-to source within their (the organization’s) particular industry”, and not being afraid to answer any questions…the good, bad and the ugly.

This part can be hard for organizations to swallow, but as Marcus proves in countless case studies, this kind of vulnerability is graciously rewarded in the long run.

What Do They Want???

Companies have paid millions upon millions of dollars to understand the answer to this elusive question. Today’s consumer wants to know as much information as possible about any purchase they are going to make.

One of the most fascinating discoveries Marcus shares was the number of pages one of his potential customers was willing to read about pools before reaching out for a quote. The answer was 374! Let that sink in for a minute. A prospect read 374 pages before he was ready to talk to a sales person.

Marcus then discussed the path to understanding what the consumer wants through the subjects they research. More specifically, he identified the 5 content subject that consumers AND businesses research most before making a buying decision:

  1. Pricing and Cost (um yes, please tell me yesterday what it cost so I don’t waste my time)
  2. Problems (How will this eventually cause me pain and suffering????)
  3. Versus and Comparison (Apple or Microsoft? Sony or Samsung? Or LG? Ahh so many choice!!!)
  4. Reviews (I want to hear what other people (like me) thought of this thing I want..)
  5. Best of Class (Yes! Lists, give me all the lists! Best headphone of 2017.)

My Favorite Quote from the Book

“Simply put, the greatest companies and modern-day rule makers are obsessed with consumer fear, and they allow that fear to dictate their entire business model. If they are able to eliminate all fears and negative emotions from the buying process, the only emotion left to feel is trust.”


This topic is immediately relatable and resonates with many. In a fear-based consumer process, we would all love to have a product/company/organization we can trust.

In my own experience, I have seen how I behave with brands I trust. I am willing to pay more for perceived value. And when a company puts the time and energy into educating me before I buy, that is value. When an organization tells me about their philosophy and shows me how they live that philosophy with content, videos and case studies, that is value.

In the Sales world we are all about features, benefits, and increasing the perceived value. This concept does just that!

And, being open and honest with your consumers does something AMAZING to your company culture.


Recommended Posts