Many organizations learn about the tactics of They Ask, You Answer and immediately want to implement them.
It's true that thousands of businesses around the world have used this framework to revolutionize their business. But doing so requires more than just technique. It's not just about the what or the how. To quote Simon Sinek, it's important to start with why.
If you’ve seen the case studies, heard Marcus Sheridan speak, or read the book, you 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?
How can you be sure that They Ask, You Answer is really driving the results you've seen?
These are all valid questions that many businesses have.
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. It is for these reasons that it can be applied to so many organizations in so many different industries.
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. We'll answer:
What actually is They Ask, You Answer?
Why buyer behavior has changed, and what you need to do about it
How They Ask, You Answer helps you connect with today's customers
Often, people assume They Ask, You Answer is just another inbound marketing book, when it's actually much broader than that. Really, They Ask, You Answer is a philosophy and a framework. It is a proven, transformative system that allowed Marcus to save his pool company, and that has since saved thousands of organizations across the world.
At its core of They Ask, You Answer is a simple premise: If a customer has a question, you should answer it. When businesses focus on answering consumers' questions honestly, they help those buyers make better purchase decisions.
This means confronting the tough questions and being upfront about what people want to know. This way, the best-suited buyers will find you, and the others will filter themselves out.
I like to think of They Ask, You Answer as a business improvement methodology, which is why it works so well. Let’s explore it together.
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, and more confident, and this leads them to feel better about the decisions they make.
On average, 70% of a buying decision is madebefore a prospect ever talks to a company. By the time they do, they have already built a relationship with that brand through their research. If the company has done it right, that buyer trusts that company — even before the two sides have spoken.
As Marcus Sheridan says: “We are all in the business of trust.”
If you can build trust with your customers, 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 having to speak to anyone.
It does this by creating content around what Marcus calls The Big 5topics that every buyer wants to know about, regardless of what they're purchasing:
Cost and pricing
'Best of' lists (best in class, best practices)
Content covering these categories frequently outperforms other content, regardless of industry because it focuses on what customers are already asking and looking for. If prospects can find information about what something costs, how it compares to other options, and other core questions, they become more educated consumers.
Following the principles of They Ask, You Answer puts customers in control, allowing them to find and consume content on demand. It helps them:
Find the answers to the questions that really matter to them.
Decide for themselves if an option fits their needs.
Choose which companies they would like to contact.
As organizations, we can push out marketing messages all day long, but people are less receptive than ever to salesy, self-promotional content. The world is noisy and full of sales pitches. They Ask, You Answer content stands out by helping and educating, not selling.
Building trust with the consumer
Only 34% of consumers say they trust the brands they buy from. Still, buyers cite trust as a major factor when making a purchase decision.
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 walk into a brick-and-mortar store and ask for the price of an item, but the sales assistant refuses to tell you. Not only is it rude, it instantly makes you distrustful. You think, 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.
Honesty and transparency build trust. If a business won't be candid about the price they charge, you're suddenly suspicious of what else they're not telling you. It’s the exact same scenario with online businesses.
This is why They Ask, You Answer is so powerful. It requires you to be transparent in the information you provide customers. If they want to know about price, you tell them about price. If they want to know how you compare to your competition, you tell them candidly and without bias. If they want to know about the shortcomings of your service, you tell them.
By answering the tough questions your customers have, you display a willingness to be upfront, open, and honest.
You show you’re not just trying to talk anyone 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: this 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: honesty and transparency. This is why it works.
Its core purpose is focused on helping consumers make a decision in a way that suits them, in a way that puts them in control. It puts your customers at the core of what you do. It taps straight into what matters most to them.
They Ask, You Answer does provide tactics and a proven framework, but it's more helpful to think of it as a continual process of business improvement. It takes place over a minimum of eighteen months, and ultimately becomes an integral part of your business, guiding your marketing, sales, and service teams. And that's not all. They Ask, You Answer will change your approach to leadership, HR, and more.
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.