When you do your research online in preparation for a purchase, what are the top things you want to know? There are five pieces of information we all want to know, according to Marcus Sheridan. An early adopter of content strategy, Sheridan turned around his company, River Pools and Spas, using content marketing. Sheridan recently gave a talk that you can see on 9Slides. He’s got a catchy nickname: The Sales Lion. Doesn’t hurt that Sheridan is totes adorbs. Roarrrr.

Sheridan boils down his strategy to four words: they ask, you answer. It’s actually a very simple matter to figure out what your customers are asking, because you are probably asking the same things yourself. Sheridan wonders if you have been asked over a hundred unique questions about your product or service in the past year, and possibly over a thousand questions in all the years you’ve been operating. How many of those questions are answered on your website right now? If you are like most companies, sadly the answer is none. This, says Sheridan, makes us digital hypocrites.

Here are the five topics you should be addressing in your content, and if you are not, turn off all the other stuff you are going on about and get on these items right now.


Do you address pricing extensively on your website? Probably not. But how do you feel if you are unable to find the cost of something you are about to buy? Pretty aggravated.


God forbid you should talk about the problems associated with your product. You might scare customers away. But that honesty and transparency is exactly what turns customers on. Hiding will not win trust. Being upfront about the limitations of your offering makes people feel a lot better about dealing with you.


Should I get this or that? What are the benefits of each? Yes, it helps if you sell both versions, but if you sell one product, don’t be afraid to compare and contrast.


Amazon found that publishing all reviews of a product, good and bad, made for a much more robust sales environment, and one in which honesty and trust are valued above all. Turns out that people can think for themselves and are able to muster a critical view of others’ opinions.


What’s the optimal solution to the problem you are trying to solve with your product or service? If you’ve done your research, share it with your customers.

Somehow, says Sheridan, we’ve arrived at a place where we refuse to treat our customers as we’d like to be treated. Why? Because we want to control the interaction. We want to choose for them. Or we are afraid our competitors might steal our ideas. We might scare customers away. But the fact remains that they aren’t customers until they give you money.

In building websites, most businesses have their priorities backwards, putting the competition and bad fits ahead of actual prospects. Sheridan asks which of these groups pays your bills? Why would you allow anyone but the customer dictate what you talk about?

Content is perhaps the greatest trust building tool in the world, but your content must be transparent and honest if it’s going to do its job.