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How Your Customers Can Be Your Best Keywords

After refueling on orange Jell-O (in chic martini glasses) and Cheetos, Content Marketing World participants were ready to hear about “7 Content Ideas to Blow Up Your Small Business in 12 Months or Less.”

Marcus Sheridan, CEO, River Pools and Spas, (wearing an orange shirt and looking, in his words, like a creamsicle on steroids), compares content marketing to a modern-day David and Goliath story. Using content marketing, Marcus was able to grow his business, even though the pool industry’s business model is not traditionally set up to favor people in Marcus’ position.

“Bottlenecks in marketing stink, and content marketing is a great way to eliminate bottlenecks.”

Marcus explained that working in the pool industry was difficult because the manufacturers supply the leads to the builders – thereby holding the advantage and creating bottlenecks. Marcus discovered in March 2009 that his website scored 17 out of 100, clearly a problem for generating leads (or anything else). He felt stuck because he didn’t have any money to spend on traditional advertising or media. But then he found content marketing and he says it changed his life.  Within two years, his website became the most popular pool website in the world.

“Content is not a crazy science”

“Every company should blog about the most frequently asked questions from customers to be great,” Marcus says. “If you take the question itself and make that the title of the blog article, that’s going to be a great long-tail keyword campaign, and you’re off to the races.”

“A lot of us are not writing about the things that people care about,” Marcus suggested, referring to putting pricing information on your website. As one member of the audience commented, he wants, “to talk to qualified leads” so that’s why he puts prices on his website. Marcus encouraged the audience not to be afraid of talking about pricing — in fact, he says it’s the first question people have on their minds and so it makes sense to address it.

“Listen to Your Customers for Topics and Keywords”

When Marcus gets asked a new question from a customer, he first asks himself if he’s written about that topic on his blog.  By listening to his customers and selecting the words and language they use to ask questions about fiberglass pools, he is able to write keyword-rich content that drives traffic.

“Talk about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

“You need to tell the truth, because your customers can handle the truth,” said Marcus. Marcus said he addresses particular problems that his customers may want to ask questions about concerning fiberglass pools, so that all their competitive research is done for his customers when they go to his site. They can use his blog to research issues they might be concerned about, and chances are they’ll go with him because he’s created trust.

“You Need to Be the Source in Your Industry”

If you can cover your industry, you become The Voice, and your customers will trust you. “If you give them enough, they will have no choice but to go with you,” Marcus said. Covering the industry has made Marcus the go-to guy for news and information within the pool industry, enabling him to write about fresh content topics on his blog, as well as develop relationships with trusted sources.

“This stuff works”

Marcus said that he will spend $18,000 on advertising in a year — but his revenues are $5 million. He says content marketing saved his business and promises that content marketing can work for anyone.


  1. Create a list of 50 questions your customers ask. Blog about them!
  2. Talk about price on your website.
  3. Tell the truth: Address potential problems with your product that prospective customers may be concerned about
  4. Address your competitors — indirectly — and answer your customer’s questions about your competitors.
  5. Develop trust with your audience and become a primary source of information for your industry.