How Inbound Marketing Can Revolutionize Your Local Business – Interview With Marcus Sheridan

small business marketing show

Inbound marketing attracts your ideal client using online content marketing.

On this episode of the Small Business Marketing Show I talk with inbound marketing expert Marcus Sheridan…a/k/a The Sales Lion!

Listen as Marcus describes how he used inbound marketing to grow his local pool construction company during a down economy.

  • Discover the Law of Compound Information
  • What it takes to be successful with content marketing
  • The simple “They ask, You answer” formula for creating great content
  • How the content marketing “CSI” affects your success

If you want to attract your ideal clients online you need to listen to this interview with Marcus!

Go here to learn more about Marcus Sheridan.

Episode Transcript

Steve: Welcome to the Small Business Marketing Show. This is Steve Gordon of Steve Gordon Marketing Systems. Today, I want to welcome you to a really special show. We’ve got a great guest today. I’m really pleased to introduce you all to Marcus Sheridan.

Marcus is going to tell us his story in a minute. I love the story he’s going to tell, because he comes from what I call the real world of business. He doesn’t come from a business that was built on internet marketing or built solely to marketing on the internet. He comes from what I consider real-world business and has done some amazing things. I think it will be a very informative call for everybody today. I want to thank you for being here.

Marcus, thank you for being here. I’m excited to talk to you. If you would, please give everybody a quick little background. I’d love for you to tell the story of how you got into internet marketing, because you’ve done some really neat things.

Marcus: Steve, thanks for the intro. Hello everyone out there in the podcast world. It’s a pleasure for me to be here, because I love talking about actionable stuff that works for businesses, especially having gone through this myself. You asked for a brief overview of my story, right? I’ll try to be as brief as I can.

In 2001, I opened a swimming pool company in Virginia. We started to grow that company. We installed inground pools. It’s called River Pools and Spas, by the way. Things were going okay until about November 2008 when the market crashed. The housing bubble burst. All of a sudden, people left and right were withdrawing the deposits they had put on inground pool installations. We were in big trouble, man. We were in big trouble. Our company had to install about 70 inground pools a year to meet our overhead and be successful, based on the amount of employees and such.

When the crash occurred, our big problem was that we didn’t have any money for marketing and advertising, as we had always done. We had to increase our reach, because there were so few people now that could actually afford to buy a pool, because so many people were in the water with their home values.

It was during this time that I started researching. I stumbled across the site HubSpot. For those that aren’t familiar with them, they’re the ones that have really become champions of the phrase “inbound marketing.” I started reading about inbound marketing—the process of becoming attractive to consumers because of the information that we have on our website. For me, as somebody with a degree in teaching, it made total sense to me.

So our approach was, okay, we see where the trend is going. People are doing all their research online. We don’t want to be left behind. We can’t afford all this shotgun marketing that we’ve always done: yellow pages, radio, tv, all that junk. We spend a couple hundred thousand dollars a year on advertising.

What we did, Steve, was a really simple strategy. I sat and I brainstormed every single question that I had ever received from a client, a prospect, a consumer. I wrote all those questions out. Then each question, I turned into a title of what would become a blog post. Then I answered it, just like I would answer it if I was talking to a homeowner sitting at their kitchen table, right?

So really, our golden rule for our marketing approach became they ask—the consumer asked—we answer. So they ask, we answer with our compass of what we should write about. I didn’t use any keyword tools, didn’t use Google, didn’t use any of that stuff. If somebody asked me a question, I think, “Okay Marcus, have you answered that yet on the website?” If I hadn’t, I would go and I would turn that question into a title of a blog post. I’d write out the answer.

A couple of things happened, man. First thing that happened was, Google quickly fell in love with our stuff, because there was somebody that was finally thinking like a consumer, talking like a consumer, acting like a consumer, and willing to address their questions. I was number one.

Number two. Consumers, pool shoppers, they fell in love with us too and started spending an incredible amount of time on the website, which changed our sales process, which changed of course traffic leads and sales, our brand.

Today, to make a long story really short, we have the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world. We are very successful. All of our advertising or marketing is essentially the internet. It’s really, really amazing. It’s changed my life.

Now, I talk about that experience on The Sales Lion, which is my marketing company and blog. I still have the swimming pool company, but I talk about all those experiences that I have with River Pools and the techniques that I used, and now the techniques that I’ve implemented with other companies. That’s found at www.thesaleslion.com. That’s our story, man. That’s it.

Steve: It’s a great story, because you’ve taken something that a lot of people talk about. You mentioned a term, inbound marketing. Some people call it content marketing. Can you kind of describe the process and how it works?
A lot of the folks who listen to this are probably getting hit up by the yellow pages rep and the tv rep and the newspaper rep who are coming around trying to sell them ads on a regular basis. For a lot of businesses, that’s the framework that they have for marketing.

This idea of publishing content I think scares a lot of people, because it sounds like an awful lot of work. You’re talking about writing blog posts and you’ve got to get a blog set up, and all these seemingly complicated things. Can you kind of just break it down a little bit in terms of what you did?

Marcus: Absolutely. Just so you know, when it comes to vernacular, we’re crazy about this, because we say the word inbound marketing, content marketing. To me really, I look to them as essentially, close to the same thing.
The bottom line is this. If we want to be great in the information age—which is the age we’re now in, in a digital world—we’ve got to be great communicators and great teachers. That just starts with great listening.

If you listen well, you hear what consumers are saying, you hear their problems, their concerns, their issues. When you hear that, you do something about it. So you teach them through producing content in the text or video format on your website or other website in a digital form, right? And you communicate that in a way that they can understand it.
In other words, the goal isn’t to sound intelligent. The goal of all marketing that we do—certainly content, inbound, digital, social—the goal is the person that reads it says, “Ha! I got it. I understand now. I know what I need to do. That answers my question.”

That’s the goal. The goal isn’t that we use our industry speak—if you will—and confuse people, because that’s what happens too often. You see all these crazy definitions of content marketing and blogging. Let’s just throw all that out for a minute.

Our goal is to listen well. If we listen well, we teach well. By teaching well, we’ve got to communicate well. If we communicate well, we’re going to get the reward. The reward goes back to those two parties I mentioned earlier: the search engines like Google and real consumers. When they read your stuff, they say, “Man, this guy, this gal thinks like me. He cares about my needs. He’s willing to answer and address my question.”

I think we make it way, way too difficult. I’ll tell you what, man. Those whole outbound marketing techniques, they’re so short-lived. In 2007, to achieve about $4 million in sales, I had to spend $250,000 on advertising. In 2012, to achieve almost $5 million in sales, we spent a little bit under $20,000 in advertising.

We’ve grown our business yet decreased advertising. We’ve grown in a time when most pool companies are still—to this day—down somewhere between 40% to 70% of what they were four years ago. Do you know what I mean? That’s all because we’ve decided to become the best teachers in the world at what we do.

When a company changes its mentality to that of teachers, everything changes. They see the world from the eyes of the student. Most never do that, man. They’re always like, I love using this phrase, “It’s called a blog, not a brag,” right? Because companies want to just talk about how awesome they are on their website. Well the fact is, nobody cares how awesome you are until you’ve taught them something they didn’t know, until you’ve addressed a problem that they have.

90% of my website is a teaching mechanism, where I’m teaching and teaching and teaching; helping them understand stuff. 10% is, “Hey, I’m awesome. Give us a call.”

Steve: As I work with a business, one of the things I try to get them to understand is that paid media can be good. It has its place. But you’ve got to understand that when you stop paying for it, they stop delivering leads.

What you’re really talking about is, over time, building up an asset that if you do it well, if you do it right… and I don’t think it’s all that hard to do it right, as long as you’re thinking about your customer. But now, you’ve got an asset that is likely to be shown in the search engines because they’ve got interest in connecting searchers with good content. If you produce good content that is customer focused, you’ve got it.

Now you’ve got that asset. You don’t have to pay for it over and over and over again, like you do if you’re running a tv commercial or a pay-per-click ad. I would imagine your investment will actually decrease over time. Initially, I’m sure you had a huge time investment. There are certainly costs to that, not necessarily hard cash out the door. There are costs to that. But that investment, I would imagine, even decreases over time.

Marcus: I look at it like this, Steve. Content–when done right–is a gift that keeps on giving. I always like to use the phrase “compound information,” because most people understand the law of compound interest. The law of compound interest is what allows us to be rich by the time we’re age 60. It’s really contingent upon two things: when we start investing and how often we make the investment.

The law of compound information is the exact same thing. If you want to be great, if you want to be rich as a company—I wouldn’t say rich; I’m just talking about being financially stable, generating leads continuously now and long-term—you’ve got to start producing content now. You can’t make up for time.

The person who starts investing at 30 versus the one at 20, even if they’re investing twice as much at age 30 to their account, they’re not going to be as wealthy by the time they’re age 60. It’s the same thing when it comes to the law of compound information. We’ve got to start investing now, not later. It’ll kill us if we wait five years. By that point, so many have jumped onboard this train.

The second component is how often we make the investment. If you have a blog—in other words, if you’re producing content—are you producing content and teaching people on your site once a week, once a month, once a year?

When I started this—like you said—I didn’t have a lot of hard cost. It was just me spending time. When people say to me, “Marcus, I don’t have the time.” I didn’t have the time either. I was working 55 to 65 hours a week like most other entrepreneurs. I would get home late at night—11:30 PM—and write blog posts on my kitchen table with a little lamp on, and nobody else in my house was awake. That’s what I did. I have produced content in crazy places. I’ve written blog articles in parking lots, in between appointments. You pretty much name it, I’ve done it. That’s what I had to do, because I was going to lose my business, Steve. I had no choice.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is, most people will not do this until they’re faced with financial hardship and they’re on the brink. It just doesn’t make sense.

There’s one single article I’ve talked so much about. I’ve briefly described this they ask, we answer mentality or they ask, you answer—which by the way, is going to be the title of my first book on hard back. I’m really excited about this whole principle of they ask, you answer.

For years, I had people ask, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” That’s always the first question a pool guy gets. How much does a concrete pool cost? In business, people always bring up cost within the first 5 to 10 minutes. I don’t care if it’s service, product, B2B, B2C, local, national. It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. We all want to know about money.

Three and a half years ago—when I started this principle of following the golden rule—nobody, no website in the world, Steve, had addressed the singular question, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” No pool guy had done this, which is preposterous considering it’s always the first consumer question. We all know the reason why: they’re afraid of competition, they’re afraid to scare people, blah blah blah.

The fact is, in this day and age… let’s say you’re looking for how much something costs, Steve. When you go on a website and you can’t find it quickly, you bounce. You’re gone. Every single person listening to this podcast right now is the same way. We’ve all grown incredibly impatient online. We want answers fast and furious. We want them quick. If we can’t find them, we’re going to bounce and go to the next website. But if we do find the information jackpot—the site that’s willing to think like us and talk like us and answer our questions—man, now we’re more loyal than ever. We’ll stay there for a long, long time. That’s just the facts. It’s like that in every single industry.

So I wrote that article—how much a fiberglass will cost—because I was following the golden rule of they ask, you answer. Immediately, Google said, “My goodness, somebody finally answered this question.” It was the first page for almost every fiberglass pool cost-related keyword phrase you could type in.
Right now, if anybody types in “fiberglass pool cost” or, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” or, “What’s the average cost of a fiberglass pool?” or, “How much does an inground pool cost?” we’re going to be on the first page of Google, usually ranked number one every single time.

Because we can track the people that have come to our site from that article based on the analytics that we use—we use HubSpot—and if they fill out a form which says, “Hey, contact me,” I’m able to see how that particular lead came into the system.

In other words, what the keyword that they typed in was and what article they landed on. Eventually, I’m able to say, well, because these leads became customers and because these customers typed in these particular phrases and landed on these particular blog articles, I can give an actual return on investment (ROI) to a specific article. This is available to any company.

To make a long story short, Steve, that one article, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” has led so far to—at a minimum, what I can track—$1.2 million in sales. That is a huge amount for me as a pool guy. That’s a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot. These are phrases that, had I not shown up in the search, they never would have found me, man. They just wouldn’t have found me.
The principle applies to everything. Literally, there are no exceptions. In some markets, I’ve been hearing that there are certain problems with fiberglass pools. So be honest, what are the problems with fiberglass pools? Again, that’s a question. That means I’ve got to answer it. I have an article titled “Top 5 Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions” on our website. It’s gets about 30,000 to 40,000 reads a year. So far, it’s made somewhere around $500,000 in sales.

The number one lead generating phrase that people type in to become a lead—other than River Pool and Spas, which is a direct one that doesn’t count—is fiberglass pool problems. Think about that. I’m actually talking about the problems of my own product. I am honest in that article. We say, “There are certain drawbacks to fiberglass pools. Here’s what they are.” So you see, that’s the beauty of being willing to answer.

I call it the antithesis of ostrich marketing. Most companies are like ostriches, possibly one of the dumbest animals on Earth. When they see a problem, they bury their head in the sand. They think it’ll go away and that by the time they come back out, it’ll be gone. It doesn’t work that way for the ostrich, and it certainly doesn’t work that way for businesses.

If somebody asked you a question like, “How much does your product cost?” you shouldn’t ignore the question and say, “Well, I’ll just wait until they get to the store,” or, “I’ll wait until I talk to them.” It doesn’t mean that you have to specifically give a cost. But you have to be able to address it. There is a big difference between addressing and answering questions.

For example, you can go read the, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” article. Never once did I say, “Your pool will cost you this much.” I said, “It’s like buying a car. It can range. It varies. Tons of options here, folks. But you might be anywhere between $20,000 and $80,000 on average. It could be higher than that depending on what you get.” But I did at least address the question.
Google views that as an answer. Consumers are satisfied that somebody’s taken the time to think like them and address their question. Now they’re in my house, a.k.a. my website. They’re going to start to read more content. The more content they read, every single article induces more trust. With more trust comes the fact that they’re closer and closer to filling out forms for or calling the source, “Hey Marcus,” or, “Hey River Pools, help me with this.”

Again, people think that what I’m talking about, their industry is the exception to this principle, Steve. It’s not the case. Whether you’re a B2B or a B2C, this golden rule applies. If you’re a great listener, you’ll never run out of blog content, content for your website. Search engines will love you and people will love you. You’ve just got to figure out how to apply it to your industry, because the principle of communication and listening is the same.

Steve: You mentioned a really important word there—trust. I think a lot of people and a lot of businesses want to walk away from the price question. It’s important to answer the price question because most of the time when people ask it, they just want a frame of reference. They’re not necessarily using it to price shop.

If you’re buying something that’s totally commoditized—something you could buy on amazon.com—yeah, maybe they’re doing that. But for most of us in business, we’re selling stuff that’s a little more complicated than that.

Really, the trust piece is more important than the price, as long as the price is somewhere within reason. They just want a frame of reference. By putting it out there while everyone else is hiding it, you’re building trust. You’re showing that, “Hey, we’re transparent. We’re going to give you an honest answer.”

I think it goes a long way especially in making a complicated sale, like a lot of the people listening to this deal with every day. Having that transparency, talking about the problems is important, because every product and every service has its weaknesses. People actually appreciate it when you let them know, “Hey, here are the pros and cons. Here are the pros and cons of maybe a competing thing. You figure out which one is best for you, but I’m going to lay it all out.” If you’re the one that lays it all out for them, who are they going to trust?

Marcus: That’s exactly right. It goes back to… you have a choice. You can be the ostrich or not. Also, every second somebody is on your website, they’re closer to buying your stuff.

When we talk about price, people raise their hand and say, “No, this won’t work. It’s a service-based business.” Again, that’s a bunch of hooey, because if somebody called up a service-based business and said, “Roughly, how much can I expect to spend?” eventually, they’re going to get some type of answer. It might not be a direct number, but like you said, you’re at least giving a range. Your answer might be, “It’s impossible, because our customers spend between $0 and $1 million, and here are the factors that dictate it.” But at least, hey, you addressed the question.

You can simplify this even further. What we’re talking about here is how the mind of today’s consumer has changed. Ten years ago, Steve, if you find a car that looks really cool on a car lot and you call in and say, “Hey, I saw you have this car. How much is it?” what’s the guy going to say back then? He’s going to say, “Oh Steve, yeah. That’s a good car. Why don’t you come on in? We’ll show it to you. Come on in. Have a look.” You didn’t ever answer the question.

Often times, people would still go to the lot and look. Today, we don’t have the patience for that and we don’t put up with it. Today, if you called the car guy and you said, “How much is this?” and he didn’t answer your question, what would you do? Everybody else, the same thing. We would get mad. We would maybe hang up. If we didn’t hang up, when we got off the phone, we’d never talk to that company again, because we’re in a different era.

This is the era of transparent marketing. It doesn’t mean that we show every single price in the world. But it means we’re willing to address every single question you ask.

Steve: If folks who are listening to this are saying, “Okay, this is great. I want to start blogging,” so they go to their web person and they get a blog set up. They start brainstorming all the questions that their prospects and customers ask and write the answers to that and put some posts up, that will get them moving forward.

But as I was reading your e-book—it’s over on thesaleslion.com—the thing that just jumped out at me was that you said you didn’t start networking quickly enough. I found this to be true as well. Why is networking with other folks that are also publishing online in your industry important?

Marcus: Networking is the answer to what I call CSI, which is the content saturation index of an industry. The higher the CSI or the more content is out there, the more you’re going to need to network in order to help your content get noticed and to develop followers, fans, readers—whatever you want to call it.

With River Pools, because the CSI was so low—in other words, people weren’t producing content in the pool industry, and they’re still not for the most part—I didn’t have to network at all, man. It was easy. I just had to answers questions. Because there were no answers out there, Google fell in love quick and so did the consumers.

When I got to the marketing realm and started teaching about marketing from The Sales Lion, immediately I was like, “Doggone, man. I’m not getting traction here.” That’s because every single marketing company, agency, consultant or whatever, had a blog. I had to network, and I had to get my name and my voice out there. They’re two different strategies.

Networking is important. It’s not as critical in certain industries, because if you’ve got nobody to network with—and sometimes it’s the case, believe it or not—well then, you just be your own little content renegade like I was in the pool industry. Produce the content and answer the question, you’re going to be successful. But if you’re writing about a niche like sales, marketing, personal development, politics or religion, there are a lot of content out there, there might be a lot to cover, and you might need to build your network. You might need to use social media.

For River Pools, I didn’t use social media. I didn’t use Facebook and Twitter to build that huge audience, because I didn’t need to. All I needed to do—because the CSI was so low—was answer the questions. Well again, I had to use social with The Sales Lion, because I was in the marketing, sales and business realm, where there were lots and lots of content.

Keep this in mind, Steve. You mentioned something that I don’t want to forget at this point. People get confused about this. A blog is simply a way of formatting information on your website. So your blog should not be a separate component of your website. It’s just more pages. Every blog article is a new page of your website. It shows differently though than your average page.

Sometimes people say, “Well, I have a blog and I have a website.” I’m like, that’s messed up. If somebody is reading your blog, they should feel like they’re on your website. They shouldn’t feel like they’ve gone somewhere else, to a different home. They should feel like they’re still there. Your blog articles—in fact, links to your blog articles—are sprinkled throughout your website. That’s very, very important. It’s amazing to me how many businesses screw that up.

Steve: That’s a good point. I guess I kind of take for granted that in this day and age, that most websites are being built on what I would call blogging platforms like WordPress and so many others that are out there. But I came across a client that hired a web designer. What they proposed originally was a static website. I said, “No, no, no. We can’t do that. There’s no way to grow that for the future.” So thank you for pointing that out, because I think that is an important distinction.

Marcus: Like I said, it’s critical. Most of the clients I had—especially when you get closer to mid-sized businesses—they’ve got custom junk that the website was built on. So at that point, they had to figure out a way to integrate a blog platform like WordPress.

We just can’t predict that, because to this day, there’s this misnomer about what blogging is. I think the definition has actually changed. Like I said, at present, a blog is a format of information on your website. That’s what a blog is.

Until people fully understand that, they’re still going to misconstrue, really, what we’re talking about. I don’t even like to call it blogging. I like to call it, in a sense, education-based marketing. We’re answering questions. Each question gets its own specific page on the website. It happens to be considered a blog article.

Steve: I think that’s real helpful. As folks get started on blogging… you’ve been through this, I’ve been through it. You get going, you’re writing articles left and right, you start out, and you’ve got all this energy that you’re just going to overtake the world with this blog.

Then maybe you make it a month into it, maybe you make it two months into it. You’re looking at your statistics, your analytics, and it doesn’t seem like you’re getting quite the traffic that you had expected. The world hasn’t rushed in.

I think all of us have kind of experienced this dip that you go through, where it gets a little bit tough to keep the momentum going. How long does it take and what was your experience with the dip, in getting through that? How did you kind of maintain momentum?

Marcus: That’s all industry-based, Steve. It’s all CSI based, depending on the content saturation index. When you start to have success is really going to be based on a couple of factors.

The number one factor is CSI. The number two factor is the way you title your blog posts, the pages of your website. People jack that up all the time. It is the number one screw up for new content marketers and bloggers. Number three is, how often you’re producing the content. You’ve got to be consistent. For the majority of businesses, produce at least two new pieces of content a week. Everybody wants to know how much. Well, at least two.

I’ve sat down with companies. We’ve brainstormed consumer questions. When we spent any bit of time on it, I’ve never come up with less than 100 in a brainstorming session with any company. Usually—if it’s say 5 to 10 employees—we can come up with 50 unique consumer questions within the first 5 to 10 minutes of brainstorming. In 30 minutes, we can come up with at least 100. That’s just the way it is.

Unfortunately, most don’t do that. They’re so attached to the numbers, but they’re not attached to doing it the right way. Doing it the right way is okay. So here is let’s say 100 blog posts. If you’ve got 100 blog posts, and if you do two blogs a week, that’s a year’s worth of content, right? You just need to write those questions out.

Now you have the titles. You know when you’re going to put them out there. It’s your editorial calendar. Then you just go. You just do. You don’t question. You don’t go, “Well, what if we don’t reach this number? What if that…” You just do it, because it’s who you are. It’s the culture. The culture is we’re teachers and we’re going to do this.

The other factor is, you have to implement that content into your sales process. So you shouldn’t write a blog article and die out. You should constantly be referring your customers, your clients, your prospects, to the content that you’ve written. If somebody comes to you and had a particular problem and you’ve written about it a couple of times on your blog, the next time you send them an e-mail, you should have links to those two blog articles. It’s amazing to me how many e-mails we send out that do not include content. It’s a huge mistake.

Can there be a dip? Yes, absolutely. But usually the dip comes with the fact that the person doesn’t truly see themselves as a teacher, has not disconnected as much with the sheer numbers as they are with, “This is who we are. This is what we do.” It’s like, “We do paychecks on Fridays. We blog Mondays and Wednesdays, because that’s what we do.” That’s the approach. That’s the mentality.

I’ve written at least two blog articles a week on The Sales Lion for three years. With River Pools—I don’t have to write as much now, but I still do—usually at least one a week. But for the first year, I did three a week. I’ve never hit a dip. The only reason why I’ve slowed down with River Pools is because I have so much traffic and I get so many leads, my company is not built to even build the number of pools that could be sold from the marketing that we do, which is a good problem to have.

I think people go through dips when they have unrealistic expectations, when they don’t understand the whole purpose of their content. For example, let’s say I never got another new visitor to my site because of my content. I would still produce content, because I use that content as part of my sales process.

Just like if somebody comes to me and says, “I want a pool,” they have to read the e-book that came from the blog articles that we wrote on River Pools. See? We’re refurbishing that content. We’re using that as part of our sales process. When they read that, they’re so much better as a lead—as a customer—than they ever would have been otherwise.

If somebody comes to me at The Sales Lion and says, “Hey Marcus, I want you to help us with our content marketing,” I’m going to say, “Have you read my e-book?” If they haven’t, I’m going to make sure they read the e-book first, because that is going to establish the relationship of expertise. They’re going to know how I roll. They’re going to know how I think. They’re going to know my essential content marketing doctrine, if you will. That’s very, very important. So now when we have a deep conversation, they’re more advanced. The foundation has already been laid out.

When people get caught up solely on more traffic, more traffic, more traffic, they’re missing the mark of really what content marketing is all about. Yes, that’s a huge deal. But the other deal thing is, are we using the content to push that person down the sales funnel so they pop out as a great client? If we’re not, we need to start doing it.

Steve: I think that’s absolutely great advice. Now, a couple of things I want to make sure we get to before we wrap up. One is HubSpot. You mentioned that. I know you have a lot of good things to say about HubSpot. I don’t know if you want to share anything now about that.

Marcus: I like HubSpot. I was their first customer that actually became a value-added reseller. With a lot of marketing clients, they use HubSpot.

The thing about it is this. HubSpot is a great all-in-one tool. It’s an e-mail marketing tool and it’s an SEO tool. It’s also a lead tracking tool. That’s a huge deal. In other words, let’s say Steve, you come to my website right now at River Pools. You fill out a form. I looked at your information. But now I can look and say, “Okay, Steve. Before you filled out the form, you looked at this page, this page, and this page. This is the time of day that you came onto this site.” I can see exactly what content that you have read, any content that you have read after you filled out the form.

I can essentially track you, right? That is a huge deal. If I’m going on a sales appointment and I know that you’ve gone and read 30 pages and I know what those 30 pages are, I know your hot buttons. I’m inside your head. The sales appointment is going to be way more productive.

At the same time, I know that if a lead comes into the system that has barely read any portion of my site. I use this on The Sales Lion as well. People come to me all the time and say, “I’ve been reading your site.” They fill out a form. They tell me how they’ve read the site, but they’re just pitching something. I can look and see how they went to one page and then went to my contact page. They’re lying to me, and I just trash it.

Or if somebody tells me, “I’ve been all over your site, Marcus. I’m really interested,” I can see if they’re being sincere or not. I can see that sincere person that really just dove into the content and sucked it all up, and is really trying hard. I can see that they’re going to be a great client.

That’s what HubSpot does. It does lead tracking. They’ll promote things too. I don’t find it very expensive it all. For most people, it’s a few hundred dollars a month. For mid-sized companies, it might be $1,000 a month or so.

It’s not for everybody, because unless you’re producing content regularly, unless you’re looking at your analytics, unless you’re trying to be great online, it’s going to be a waste of time. It’s just a tool. It’s only as good as the person that’s using the tool. That’s why there are a lot of folks I say not to use HubSpot, because they would just be wasting their money.

Steve: I think that’s wise advice there at the end. Tell us a little bit about The Sales Lion. I want to make sure we direct folks over to your e-book there, because if they’ve listened to this and they’re thinking about getting into content marketing or they’re doing it already, you’ve got to go get the e-book that Marcus has written. It’s outstanding. How do they get that?

Marcus: I appreciate that, Steve. The site is The Sales Lion, like the animal. So thesaleslion.com. You’ll see right away that there’s a free e-book there. It’s a couple of hundred pages. It’s called “Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy.” It’s literally been downloaded thousands of times all over the world. It’s changed businesses and lives all over the world. It is something that I’m incredibly proud of. It’s free. It’s my gift to everybody.

Content marketing, inbound marketing, changed my life so much. I was on the brink of financial ruin. It brought me out of that. I have so much passion to talk about it. That’s exactly why I give that e-book away for free.

Hopefully, your listeners will go there. If they read it and they apply it, they’re going to be on the top 1% of those that are in their particular niche and field. I’m telling you, they’ll be elite level and they’ll be there quickly. So thesaleslion.com.

Steve: It’s a phenomenal resource. I can’t believe you’re giving it away. Most people would get something that’s got that much meat in it and think, “God, this has got to be sold for a couple of hundred bucks.” But you’re giving it away. So everybody ought to go get it. It really is valuable.

Marcus, thanks so much for being with us today on the Small Business Marketing Show. This has been really informative. It’s been a lot of fun. I wish you luck.

Marcus: My pleasure, sir. Thanks everyone for listening today. Good luck to you and your business.