The Insider Series: Q&A with Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

October 25, 2012
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This post is part of the Insider Series, which is designed to feature professionals in our industry, offer business insight and discover new paths in the agency world.

Marcus SheridanMarcus Sheridan (@thesaleslion) founded the Sales Lion, a marketing consultancy, after realizing much success with inbound marketing for his company, River Pools and Spa. Drawing on his own experiences as a business owner, he now helps small and large organizations make the transition to content and inbound marketing.

Marcus is also a highly sought after marketing speaker due to his high energy and educational style, with appearances at Content Marketing World, Inbound12, BlogWorld and more. He brings a unique perspective as both an agency and small business owner.

Q&A with Marcus Sheridan

MAI: You took a non-traditional route into the marketing consulting world. Can you explain your background and what led you to start a marketing services business?

Marcus: Yes, that is a long story, but here is the short version: I was a guy in big trouble. My swimming pool company was going to go out of business after the economy crashed, and if we didn't figure out a way to generate leads and sales fast and cheap, it was all over.

So we embraced blogging and inbound marketing, and decided to become the best teachers in the world at what we did—fiberglass swimming pools. Before long, Google fell in love with our site because we spent so much time and effort answering consumer questions on the blog. This led to exponential traffic, leads and sales growth.

Because I'm a teacher at heart, and because I enjoy helping others reach their potential, when my business got back on solid ground, I couldn't help but share what I had learned with others. I did this by starting another site/blog—The Sales Lion.

Within 18 months of starting The Sales Lion, my brand and voice in the marketing realm really started to grow. Eventually, getting paid to help others replicate what I had achieved at River Pools with their companies only made sense.

MAI: What types of services does The Sales Lion offer to its clients?

Marcus: My biggest focus is two-fold:

  • I hold workshops for companies that want to embrace inbound and content marketing and are looking to get "buy-in" top to bottom. When employees understand the what, how and why of inbound marketing, the chances that it works and truly revolutionizes the business is increased drastically.
  • I help companies learn to think and talk exactly like a consumer, thus creating content in textual and video format that gets huge results—more traffic, leads and sales.

MAI: What challenges did you face in your transition from “pool guy” to marketing consultant? How did you overcome them?

Marcus: The biggest challenge has been the fact that so many companies think their business or industry is the "exception" to sound marketing principles. Many have said, "Yeah, well you were a pool guy, but that would never work in our industry..."

Now that I've had clients in so many other fields, I've shown how these "principles" work in all industries, no matter what they are.

MAI: Having lived inbound marketing yourself through your pool business, what unique value can you bring to client campaigns?

Marcus: I don't do marketing speak. I do business owner speak. And because of that, I always look at the bottom line and understand the pains, pressures and concerns these business owners have with their marketing.

MAI: Based on your experiences at River Pools and Spas and now as a consultant, what impact can inbound marketing have on a small business? 

Marcus: It can change everything. I compare it to a modern day David versus Goliath. These small businesses aren't held back by red tape and bottlenecks like large companies are. They can blog, create videos and produce other content without having to go through a board, get approval or all that other stuff that crushes creativity and stifles success.

MAI: What advice do you have for others looking to launch their own consulting business?

Marcus: If they want immediate leads, the best advice I have is to start speaking to as many groups as possible. Don't expect to simply get all your leads online, especially at first. You need to get your feet on the ground and share your message. Teach.

Marcus Sheridan is the founder of The Sales Lion. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.