They ask, you answer

You focus too much on the sexy campaigns and too little on the basics that also drive sales (in the end)

I really don’t get why not more brands have this in place. I can only guess… a bit too much focus on the sexy campaigns and no real sense of urgency for this type of content.

Yes, this is the basic stuff you need to have in place, and this is what drives sales; show that you care. 


Fleur Willemijn van Beinum

Bluntly said, pull your head out of your ass and get these basics in place before you even think about the sexy content stuff. 

Fleur Willemijn van Beinum


Why it matters

You want to claim thought leadership, right?

You want to be the go-to brand for your industry, the best place to buy that specific product, true?

Ergo, you want the best-in-class with a top-notch reputation.

In the meantime, your customers are becoming more aware, louder, and more curious. With Google and ChatGPT, the world is just one click away.

With the ‘They ask, you answer' (the book), you can be on top of your content game and be there where they are.

'If you don’t, your competitor will.


Let me make my case.

1. In these days, your brand becomes more and more important. Who you are, why you do what you do, how you are different from your competitors, and, maybe the most relevant, how your product solves your customers’ problem.

Nex to all this, something else is going on.

2. With the upcoming era of transparency, focus on sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and ethics, you can’t just not do this.

  • Customers want to know if you’re doing fair business (don’t overprice or downsize for the same price)
  • Customers want to know if you practice what you preach, from green to LGBTQ-washing
  • Customers value that you keep your word and promises (Hello Heineken Russia)
  • Customers understand that marketing tactics are getting smarter, including peer pressure from influencers

Hence, customers got lots of questions and some concerns. Why not answer them?

And answer them in such a way that you can re-use and re-purpose this content.

  •  your www for SEO
  • Distribute via social and or newsletters
  • Re-distribute when possible; no new content needed


Warning, this is a long read with two examples

‘They ask, you answer’ might be pretty old-school. Yet it works. You listen to your customer's questions and concerns and pro-active answer them on your www and social. 

To repeat, as I consider this the most important: this ‘They ask, you answer’ stuff is your basic. This is the sh*t you need to have in place before you even consider the sexy award-winning hub or hero content. This is the evergreen content you can reuse over and over again. 

As content is a long-term game, the best time to start was yesterday. The next best time to start is today. 

What you will read below

  1. They ask, you answer philosophy explained
  2. To discover their questions, use Google and ChatGPT
  3. Creating answers; testing. iterating, planning, and distribution
  4. PPM: create all assets at once without spending more budget
  • Two examples to bring it to life
  • Last paragraph: practise what you preach, the five most asked questions about content


1. ‘They ask, you answer’ philosophy

Yes, it’s a pretty American commercial way of thinking. However, if it works, it works.

Definition: You give an open, transparent, extended, and honest answer to all the questions your customers have. 

You pre-think for them and have your content ready for when they enter their question in Google. As soon as they ask Google, you are there to answer. 


2. Discovering their questions

A few ways to get these insights, you aim for ~100 questions to answer. The magic is in the number; by being extensive and not limiting yourself to ten or twenty, you'll keep an open mind and find the questions beyond the obvious ones. 

You don’t need to answer all of them or all at once. It’s great to have these insights and overview. Later in the process, you’ll prioritize and plan over the year (see below)

  • Ask your sales and account people; what are the questions asked in the showroom or during the sales processes? Write down the exact questions, not just keywords. 
  • Ask your customer care department; they know, like nobody else, what are your customers' concerns, questions, and complaints.
  • Google Analytics; what are the most visited pages on your www over the last 24 months?
  • Reverse Google search; what are the second or third keywords typed into Google after your product name, industry name, or brand name? Don’t forget to check your competitors as well.
  • Use answerthepublic.com  for some more insights; notice this is an indication, not solid representative research. 
  • Ask ChatGPT ‘What are the top 10 questions on product/brand?' Keep in mind ChatGPT currently has data till 2021, no recent data yet. 


Using ChatGPT

As just mentioned, ChatGPT is excellent for ideation. You can also ask AI to create the content for you, from the copy to multiple social assets. Just keep in mind, the magic of content is in adding value to your audience in your brand’s voice.

AI is an amazing starting point; now it’s up to you to make it special.


3. Creating answers

Make an effort and invest time into answering their questions. Show that you care. Think about 500 to 1.000 words and not just one or two lines. Refrain from sticking to a quick and dirty FAQ structure with a ‘call now’ button. 


If you don't have the answer, be upfront

And if you don’t have the answer because there are too many variables that define the price. Be upfront and inform them with an extended explanation of those variables. In this way, you show your expertise and passion for the product and your (potential) customer.

Last, this is not a sales process. I repeat, no sales. People don’t want to be marketed to. They are looking for an answer to their question, not for a salesperson. If they were looking for a salesperson, they probably would have contacted you already.


Test and iterate before creating expensive content

Creating content is expensive and takes time, especially if you’re using video. Why not test before you invest? 

Create several www pages that give a (written) answer to their questions. Check the analytics, and if there’s quite some traffic on these pages, you can expand with the costly videos and other sexy stuff. 


Saving budgets

This takes some advanced planning, time, and patience. However, you can save yourself big budgets by not creating content that doesn't get seen. 


Planning and continuity

Once you have the long list of questions, create a short list (duh…). From the 100, you probably can combine or delete, and have about 50 to 75 left. Then divide into batches; up to you how to divide. Yet refrain from producing one batch and then abandon the project. The power is in the long tail, and you making an effort to answer all of your customers’ questions. If you don’t, your competitor will.

First batch
Produce, publish, distribute. Analyze.

Second batch
Take the learnings from the first batch, iterate content, and processes where needed. Produce, publish, distribute. Analyze.

Third batch
Sanity check the first and second batch questions. Are those still relevant, or are there, due to timings, new questions to add to the third batch?

Repeat the process of the second batch, from iteration to analyzing.


Distribution, SEO, and social

This ‘They ask, you answer’ relies heavily on SEO and social.

Pull that organic traffic in. Only possible if your content is SEO optimized, high quality, and appreciated by the visitors. Make it count by investing time and budget in the production.

Be the social media whore. Two requirements: high-quality social savvy adding value to your customer content (it’s not an ad!), second, media budget. There’s no such thing as organic on social; you need media spend. However, it’s not an ad; it's adding value and pushing it with media to get seen. You can involve marketing and use this to fill the funnel, build audiences, and retarget with performance ads.


4. PPM, integrated production for visuals and video to save budget

PPM stands for Pre-Production Meeting. Integrated production means you produce all content assets in one go. In plain human language: you make sure you have a list of all content assets you need for www and for social.

You prevent that social becoming a derivation of www. Both are equally important. A video on social is square or vertical, high paced, around ~ 30 seconds; the video for your www can take up to two minutes and with a calmer heartbeat. By having both scripts ready on the day you’re producing, you can create kick-ass content optimized for www and social without spending additional budget.


coffee and content

Explained by example: global coffee producer

Image, you’re a global coffee producer. And you’re pretty passionate about all your beans and how to get that black caffeine-infused gold. How to claim your leadership and work on your reputation as a coffee expert, to be the go-to person to buy your coffee beans for the best coffee at home?


Finding the questions

For this client, pre-ChatGPT, we did a reverse search on Google, desk research on society and industry trends, and social listening. Resulting in over 10.000 data points. Based on the output of the analyst, a 105-page PowerPoint deck, I created the management summary in ~15 pages, including a WarPlan.

  • Five content themes: Recipes and hacks for cappuccino and lattes, brewing methods from drip to specialized, coffee beans explained by flavor, grinding,  and origin, the nutritional value of coffee and caffeine, and sustainability.
  • Giving examples per theme; to bring it to life; nothing beats examples from your competitors
  • Feasibility check: nice to have all that content; how to pay for it (by local markets), and can the markets go to make an effort in the distribution? That resulted in the elimination of two themes.
  • Planning: we started with the first theme, ‘recipes and hacks’. Why one theme and not a batch with content from all three themes? We had to start somewhere, and to keep the overview in this global multi-brand process; we decided to stick to the first theme.
  • PPM: pre-production meeting. This matters as in the production; you can add all content assets needed. For the www and for social.

Shortly after the production planning was ready, the interim life kicked in, and I handed it over to my permanent successor. That’s the downside of freelancing, you start something amazing, and once the strategy is there, you hand it over to the team for obvious budget reasons, as a senior like me is pretty costly to keep on board for the production.


Mathilde Langevin @Pexels

Explained by example: local swimming pool supplier

This is not something exclusive to global brands with big budgets. As a smaller brand, you have far more opportunities as you are way more agile, have shorter decision lines, and have faster approval processes.

This ‘swimming pool’ example is stolen and adapted from the book ‘They ask, you answer.’ Please read it before jumping to conclusions and to get more details on their process. Bear with me for cutting big corners and simplifying for readability.



In the beginning years of the internet, the swimming pool market was slowing down, up to the point of almost bankrupt. They decided to take their business online and wanted to be the leader in the industry.

The marketeer got in touch with the salespersons and asked them to list the questions that are asked during the sales process. Writing down all questions, over 100, and giving an extended answer to all of them. In case they didn’t know the answer to ‘how much costs a fiberglass pool,’ they decided to explain why they didn’t have the key turn number, explaining all variables that determine the price, like size, groundwork, piping, electrical, lighting, ground work, etcetera. 

This page, ‘we don’t know the answer,’ turned out to be one of their most visited and best-converting pages.

Why? Because they answer the main question, ‘what does it cost.’ Through their honest answer and explanations, they showed their expertise and that they care.

Long story short, nowadays in the USA, they are the market leader and generate millions in sales coming from these ‘you ask, we answer’ pages.



Five most asked questions about content

Practicing what I preach, here you go in a specific order, the five most asked questions about content. Plus, a bonus questions about AI. 

  1. I want more content for less budget; what are the tips?
  2. What do I need to measure? I struggle with accountability.
  3. It takes forever; how can I speed up the process and shorten the time to market?
  4. I don’t see the results; what can I do?
  5. We struggle with ownership; where should content be?

Do you miss anything, or got a specific question? Drop me a DM, and I'll get back to you. 


Final thoughts

If you want to claim thought leadership in your industry and be the go-to brand, get your sh*t together and invest in ‘They ask, you answer’ content. 

If you don’t, your competitor will.

In recap:

  1. They ask, you answer philosophy explained
  2. To discover their questions, use Google and ChatGPT
  3. Creating answers; testing. iterating, planning, and distribution
  4. PPM: create all assets at once without spending more budge

And two examples to bring it to life, one global, the other more local. 

Don’t forget to design ‘mobile first’.  And ask yourself the questions if you're proud of your content.  Is it easy on the eye and invites you to read it? Would you like to read it yourself?

If the answer isn’t f**k yes, reconsider publishing.

If you want to know some more details, don’t hesitate to drop me a DM or jump on a quick call.