The Tragedy of Third Party and Review Sites and How Content Marketing Can Fix It

by Marcus Sheridan

REviewSites2

That’s right, YOU should be in the middle of these guys…

I had the pleasure this morning to speak to 700 attentive faces at the 2014 Innkeeping Conference and Expo and was reminded of a subject that has been bugging me for some time now—which is this:

Too many businesses are allowing 3rd party sites (like Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc.) to control their industry and ultimately impact their company’s financial peace.

Now before you say, “But Marcus, it’s just the way it is and those sites cannot be controlled,” I’d submit you consider what I’m getting ready to tell you.

Just because I'm a reseller of HubSpot doesn't mean I can't write a review article about it, just as I did with this one over 3 years ago, which has since that time generated dozens of HubSpot leads and clients.

Just because I’m a reseller of HubSpot doesn’t mean I can’t write a review article about it, just as I did with this one over 3 years ago, which has since that time generated dozens of HubSpot leads and clients.

As many of you have heard me discuss in presentations and on this blog before, there are essentially 5 subjects that move the needle online for every industry—at least when people are in the research phase of the buying decision. In my opinion, nothing can impact the efficacy of an exceptional content marketing campaign more than a massive focus on these “Big 5.” To reiterate, the “Big 5” are:

  • Cost/Pricing Questions
  • Problems/Issues/Concerns Questions
  • Vs/Comparison Questions
  • Review/Opinion Based Questions
  • “Best” Questions

With every client I’ve ever had at The Sales Lion, all our focus in building a powerful editorial calendar that gets results has been built around these Big 5. And although I’d love to spend time discussing each one in detail today, we’re just going to focus on “Reviews” and “Best” Questions as it pertains to the critical subject at hand.

Take the Innkeeping/Bed and Breakfast Industry as an example. Let’s assume you’re visiting Charleston South Carolina (where I am at the moment) and you’ve decided to go online to find the perfect “fit” for your bed and breakfast experience. What are some of the questions you might go to Google and ask? (BTW, the greatest content marketers in the world understand how to answer this question exactly as a consumer would, so please, take a second and think about the questions you’d ask in this situation.)

If I were a consumer with such a need, I might ask (search) the following questions:

  • What are the best Bed and Breakfasts in Charleston South Carolina?
  • What are the best Bed and Breakfasts for families in Charleston South Carolina?
  • What are the most romantic Inns/Bed and Breakfasts in Charleston South Carolina?
  • Reviews of the best Bed and Breakfasts in Charleston South Carolina

Are you seeing where we’re going with this? These are just a small sampling of the potential questions one might seek online if they were in a position of researching the ideal Bed and Breakfast in Charleston.

A search for "the best bed and breakfast for families in Charleston SC" render a bunch of 3rd party sites, none of which answer the actual question.

A search for “the best bed and breakfast for families in Charleston SC” renders a bunch of 3rd party sites, none of which answer the actual question.

But this is exactly where we get to the “tragedy” I mentioned in the title of today’s post. You see, if you went online right now and typed in each one of those questions, the only thing you would see is 3rd party sites:

  • Yahoo Answers
  • Trip Advisor
  • Yelp
  • Etc.

And do you know what you wouldn’t see?

Yep, that’s right—Actual bed and breakfasts.

In other words, the businesses that live and die by these critical online searches are the very ones who are left on the outside looking in, never to be a part of the conversation…that is, unless they start thinking outside the box.

What I mean by this is that it’s time businesses started taking things into their own hands and begun controlling important conversations had online about the “Big 5”—especially when it comes to reviews, best, etc.

You may ask how this happens. The answer is simple, and the same one I’ve been preaching as hard as I possibly could for 4 years now.

My friends at Yale Appliance are absolute blogging masters, mainly because they aren't afraid to share their opinions, which is why posts like this one have been read thousands upon thousands of times.

My friends at Yale Appliance (clients) now dominate their industry due to articles like this one, focusing on the “Big 5″

By following the principle of They Ask, You Answer—and aggressively tackling every “Review” and “Best” question a possible customer might ask, you’re going to put yourself in position to do 2 main things:

1. From a search standpoint, you might rank for these critical keyword phrases (including those of your competition). This can ultimately lead to a mountain of qualified traffic, leads, and sales you never would have interacted with in the first place had you not thrown your hat in the content ring.

2. From a thought-leadership standpoint, your entire industry (vendors, competitors, and consumers alike) will take notice of the fact that you’re willing to be the go-to source for information they care about. This doesn’t even account for the fact that you’ll naturally attract more social presence and inbound links due to your willingness to think outside the standard “content box.”

Upon reading this, some of you may be wondering how to write a Review article without sounding like a slimy sales person, to which I’d respond the key is using a technique I call “disarmament,” which you can read about here.

Should you write "review" and "best" articles that discuss your competition? Of course-- that is if you want to be a part of the conversation and dictate your financial future. The article shown about has made my swimming pool company over $250,000 in sales we would NOT have had if we had simply ignored the hard questions like everyone else.

Should you write “review” and “best” articles that discuss your competition? Of course– that is if you want to be a part of the conversation and dictate your financial future. The article shown above has made my swimming pool company over $250,000 in sales we would NOT have had if we had simply ignored the hard questions like everyone else.

The thing to remember though is this:

When it comes to reviewing other products, companies, methodologies, etc—YOU are in charge of what  you say. You’re in charge of how you say it. You can be vague or you can go into details.

But you MUST address the question.

By so doing, at least you’ll have a fight chance because you’re now part of the conversation.

And frankly, being a part of the conversation is what great content marketing is all about.

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