Answer the question!
21st December 2010
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Yesterday I gave a talk to a fab group of business people at The Oyster Club’s Seed Pearl breakfast. It was a lovely event and all the attendees seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.

I gave my talk, which was designed to appeal to a wide audience, and then took questions about people’s specific marketing issues.

Answering questions is always fun, and gave me a chance to demonstrate my expertise beyond the subject of my presentation.

Here I’ll show you how, where and when you should be answering questions on your specialist area.

Everybody you meet (in a business context) is likely to have a question that you could answer for them.

If you could answer that question, they would be more aware of your specialist expertise, feel more well-disposed towards you and your business, and help you begin to create a relationship with them.

If you answer a question in a public arena, then you are also showing others that you are a source of good advice and could also attract them as clients.

There are a number of places you could answer questions:

  • On your website/blog – The easiest way to do this is to invite questions and comments. Then, when you get a question, answer it. You don’t have to go into huge amounts of detail. Here’s an example from one of my blog posts: You should respond to any blog comments or questions as soon as possible.
  • On Twitter – Simply set up a search for a key word that relates to your industry, then read those tweets and respond to any that are a question (if it’s appropriate – no spamming!). Try and do this twice a week.
  • On Facebook – If you have a Facebook Page (that’s a public profile for a company or brand), then you can invite people to ask questions of you. Maybe you could have a question of the week competition, which you then answer publicly for the benefit of all your Facebook fans.
  • On Linkedin – A great deal of Linkedin’s power is to do with asking and answering questions in the discussion forums that are attached to each Linkedin group. To find appropriate questions, first search the groups section for groups related to your industry, then review their individual discussions for questions that you could answer. With just one answer per week, you would be far ahead of the majority of other Linkedin users.
  • In specialist forums – There are a vast number and variety of specialist forums on the web. You should contribute to at least one of the main ones in your field. The good thing about responding to questions in specialist forums is that the other members are likely to help promote you if you offer a positive contribution to their online community.  For example, if you are a tax advisor, maybe you want to answer questions on MoneySavingExpert’s tax discussion board. You can’t promote your own business in these forums, but you could include details of your business in your forum signature. Answer a question here once a week, but then keep an eye on the discussion ‘thread’ for follow up questions – it is bad netiquette to just leave the conversation.
  • In magazines/papers – Having an ‘agony aunt’ type of role in any relevant publication is a good thing. However, there are only a limited number of these roles available, so if you can’t be a regular writer, try responding to letters that the magazine publishes. You may get your response printed in the next edition. Once a month for this sort of question answering would be plenty.
  • At events – Whether you are speaking to an audience or running a small trade stand, you will get questions at events. Always take the time to answer each question as it comes up, but don’t let any one person dominate your time for long. There are some useful techniques for answering questions in person, both on stage and off, but I don’t have space to detail them all here. However, I can share one really fabulous tip for answering questions in person: when you have finished answering the question say “Does that answer your question?” – this allows you to know that you’ve satisfied the questioner, and also has them say “yes” to the rest of the people listening, so even if they didn’t understand the question, they know that you have answered it to the satisfaction of the questioner. You should be answering questions at EVERY event!
  • In your promotional materials – You probably get asked the same questions over and over again, so why not collate these with your answers and include them on the back of flyers and in your brochures etc. You can either call them FAQs (Frequently Answered Questions) or turn your answers into a “Top Tips” collection. Consider this whenever you are creating or revamping a promotional item.
About the Author

Tamsin F

Member since: 27th July 2011

Marketing Mentor, speaker, trainer and published writer. Happy to be a business member of The Best Of as well as a personal member.

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