At a recent conference, I heard Jay Baer talk about River Pools & Spas and it was the best example of content marketing that drives commerce that I had heard. "During the 2008 housing crisis," Jay Baer explained, "it turns out that if you can't afford to pay your mortgage, you are highly unlikely to purchase an in-ground pool. So, the founders of River Pools & Spas got together and wrote over 300 blog posts answering every question that their customers had asked them."

At this point, I was thinking to myself, who would ever read more than a handful of blog posts about in-ground pools? As if Jay Baer had read my mind he went on to inform the audience that the average prospect reads 105 pages on their website before contacting River Pools & Spas. I was floored. Really? 105 articles, blog posts and other content about an in-ground pool? Then I realized that if you're in the market and about to plunk down $12,000 or more on a back yard pool, you want to make sure you're making the right investment in your pool.

"Your customers have already done all their research before they ever pick up the phone and call you," Jay Baer said. "On average, 80% of their decision has been made before they ever want to talk to a salesperson." His point was clear. If you're content isn't out there ready to be discovered by your ideal customer prospect, then you're not even in the consideration set.

According to their website, "River Pools managed to save their business during the economic downturn of 2008 by using the internet to build their brand and generate more traffic, leads, and sales in the process is a feat that has inspired businesses on a global level to invest in educating their customers while using the power of the internet and other digital technologies."

I caught up with Jay Baer to ask him to dive deeper into this topic and he was generous enough to spend some time talking about the power of content that drives commerce:

While Jay Baer is a wealth of insights and information, there are a few key insights I'd like to reaffirm:

It's Not About You, It's About Your Customers.
Figure Out What Your Customers Need to Know & Tell Them For Free.

Actively Look for Ways to Add Even More Value. My favorite example that Jay Baer brought up in our discussion was a recommendation for real estate agents (about 10:30 into the video interview). In his book, Youtility for Real Estate, he talks about the fact that local newspapers have neither the staff nor the resources to cover youth sporting events. This presents an incredible opportunity for real estate agents as it gives them an opportunity to publish the local sports programs and cover the gap in the local news. Why would they take the time to do this? First, it gives a real reason to sign up for a newsletter or blog site published by the agent. Second, it provides an opportunity to share this content with a growing audience on a regular basis. And third, it demonstrates just how well the real estate agent knows the neighborhoods that he or she is covering. As a real estate agent, what better way to represent yourself in a small town than to cover the youth sporting events?

What's incredible today is that anyone can identify a gap in the marketplace and grow their business by filling that need. The bigger the gap in your industry and the more authentically you deliver the content that's in high demand, the more likely you will be to tie these efforts back to your business. The right content does, in fact, drive commerce and it is rapidly replacing the more traditional ways of selling. So what's the biggest content gap that you can fill in your industry? It's worth thinking this one through and creating a plan to deliver what none of your competitors have chosen to invest their time to deliver.

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