Are you trying to decide between Inbound Marketing and They Ask, You Answer for your business? Do you want to know what sets them apart and which one would be better for you?
In this blog post, we will compare the two options and provide insight on when to choose one over the other.
What is Inbound Marketing?
The term "Inbound Marketing" was coined by HubSpot in 2006 as an answer to the increasingly ineffective traditional outbound marketing. Rather than constantly disrupting consumers (e.g., with TV ads) or annoying everyone with untargeted advertisements, such as billboards, sending junk mail, and spammy cold prospecting emails, Inbound Marketing seeks to attract prospective buyers who are currently looking to solve a problem that your products or services could be the answer for.
The original Inbound Marketing methodology was as follows:
- ATTRACT: Strangers are attracted to the company's website as they search and find relevant and helpful content that is optimized for keywords and promoted on social media.
- CONVERT: Once the prospective buyers come to the website and engage with the content, they will see strategically placed Call-to-Action buttons that offer deeper insights in form of eBooks, guides, whitepapers, how-to tutorials, and other lead generation assets.
- CLOSE: For the exchange of some personal information, visitors then convert on specifically designed landing pages to download or access the material. The new leads can be nurtured through email marketing and workflows until they are ready to buy.
- DELIGHT: After the purchase, Inbound Marketing can be used to delight customers by using social inboxes, event monitoring, and smart content with the hopes of turning customers into promoters.
In the last few years, HubSpot transitioned from the traditional funnel that puts customers as an afterthought to the so-called Flywheel with the customer as the center. The above methodology still stands (imagine the first three being the marketing segment of the Flywheel), but it extends to include sales and customer service to provide a cohesive customer experience. The goal is to eliminate all friction points so the Flywheel turns faster.
What Is 'They Ask, You Answer'?
They Ask, You Answer was officially coined by Marcus Sheridan in 2017, although the journey started after the Dow Jones crash at the end of 2008. Marcus Sheridan, the co-owner of River Pools & Spas, lost more than a quarter million dollars worth of orders within the first 48 hours, and by January 2009, he and his partners were told by three different business consultants that they needed to declare bankruptcy.
Not willing to give in, Marcus started to research online marketing. He read up about Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, and all the other terms, but for him, it all boiled down to a single concept: if your prospect/buyer/customer (they) asks you a question, you answer it in the most helpful, transparent, and unbiased way possible.
But They Ask, You Answer isn't just a specific lens to view your Inbound Marketing strategy through; it first and foremost facilitates a cultural change throughout the entire organization. While this includes many different aspects, for example, company-wide workshops, watch parties, and quarterly planning sessions, it is probably best illustrated in the alignment you can achieve by uniting both the marketing and sales teams in the form of a revenue team with the customer as their common goal.
In addition to a fully bought-in and supportive leadership, They Ask, You Answer has four main cornerstone elements:
- Content Marketing (primarily focused on addressing buyer's questions, the so-called Big 5: price & cost, versus & comparisons, best of, potential problems, and reviews)
- Video Marketing (also primarily focused on addressing buyer's questions and visually showing potential buyers what to expect, the Selling 7 including bio videos of key team members, customer journey videos, claims we make, and more)
- Sales Training (including 1:1 video, virtual selling, and assignment selling/prospecting)
- Reporting (marketing automation, customer relationship management, and sales enablement on HubSpot or a similar platform to be able to measure, track, and report on the results)
Comparing Inbound Marketing vs. They Ask, You Answer
Both Inbound Marketing and They Ask, You Answer can be highly successful in all types of industries and for organizations of all sizes if executed correctly.
Things to keep in mind with Inbound Marketing:
It is important to understand that Inbound Marketing is a set of marketing techniques (content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, marketing automation, and more) that are based on the broad idea of meeting your buyer where they are and engaging them to ultimately sell to them. While HubSpot has been promoting Inbound Sales and Sales Enablement, they don't often go hand-in-hand naturally.
- Inbound Marketing is seen as a marketing initiative only.
- True sales and marketing alignment is hardly ever achieved.
- Sales are not involved in content creation and often will not use content in the sales process.
- It requires a clearly defined and documented strategy to be successful. More often than not, the editorial calendar is driven by company news, product announcements, and other non-buyer question-related topics.
- While the Flywheel is a great theoretical concept, organizations struggle to implement it into reality.
- The vast majority of organizations find it hard to show ROI for their Inbound Marketing efforts which results in bad quality leads, stagnant traffic growth, and longer sales cycles.
Inbound Marketing might be a better choice for organizations that are not willing to bring their digital marketing in-house and would rather work with an Inbound Marketing agency to execute their day-to-day activities.
Things to keep in mind with They Ask, You Answer:
They Ask, You Answer takes important elements of Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Video Marketing, and Sales Enablement and weaves them into a strategic company-wide initiative that is aimed at one thing only: answering your buyer's questions. Because there is a crystal clear agenda, it is easy to follow. There are concrete phases an organization can implement one step at a time.
- As a company-wide initiative, They Ask, You Answer requires full leadership buy-in and support to be successful. Without it, you will fail.
- Digital marketing functions need to be brought in-house. This requires hiring the right people (e.g., a full-time content writer and videographer), careful onboarding, and continuous training.
- It takes most organizations between 18-24 months to reach full They Ask, You Answer maturity. Since you are committing to providing the best, most helpful answer in the marketplace, there is a lot of work and training involved to do this right.
- There is a prescribed method to follow. Some organizations thrive on that as it gives them concrete steps to follow, while others prefer to follow the beat of their own drum.
- It requires courage and backbone to do things differently from everyone else, especially in industries that have been cagey with pricing, potential problems, etc., for decades.
They Ask, You Answer is the right choice for organizations that are obsessed with their customers, have a corporate culture of telling the truth and life-long learning, and are willing to be honest, transparent, and unbiased in their communication. If you want to shorten your sales cycles, increase your close rates, and become the Voice of Trust in your space, They Ask, You Answer might be right for you.
How To Get Started With They Ask, You Answer
Since most organizations hire an agency to get started with Inbound Marketing, I won't be going through the steps on how to get started with that option. However, getting started with They Ask, You Answer might require a bit of explaining.
There are three ways to get started with They Ask, You Answer: do it yourself, hire Impact, or hire a They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach.
Some companies choose to embrace their They Ask, You Answer journey by themselves. This might be after they heard Marcus Sheridan talk or read his book. Impact has put together a practical 12-month DIY roadmap that heavily relies on their learning platform, Impact+, for guidance. We only recommend this to very small organizations that are very mature in Inbound Marketing and Hubspot usage and are looking to implement They Ask, You Answer as their corporate culture.
The second option is to go directly to the source and hire Impact to guide you through your They Ask, You Answer journey. This allows you access to one of their world-class coaches plus a squad of skilled HubSpot, Content, and Video trainers. Impact offers multiple options. However, for example, for a medium-sized company ($2.5-50 million annual revenue), the investment is about $180,000 over 12-24 months, depending on your organizational structure and needs.
Hire A They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach
Alternatively, you can hire a They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach that has been trained by Impact's world-class coaches and trainers to deliver the same They Ask, You Answer training services as Impact does. While the exact price points vary from coach to coach, the general investment is around $130,000 over 12-24 months.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a way to provide the best, most helpful answers to your customers' questions and become the Voice of Trust in your space, They Ask, You Answer is the right choice. It requires full leadership buy-in and support, as well as hiring the right people and providing them with training.
To get started with They Ask, You Answer, you can choose to do it yourself, hire Impact, or hire one of their certified coaches. All three options give you access to a concrete framework that speaks to today's digital buyers and provides helpful, transparent, and unbiased answers.
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