The new owner of a contracting company sat across from me at a Chick-fil-a restaurant some years ago listening as I talked about our marketing strategies and processes. I suggested adding educational marketing tools such as how-to articles and videos to his strategy.
“But why would I show my customers how to do what I want them to hire me to do?” he asked.
I smiled. “Because once they figure out how hard it is, they will call you. You’ve already proven yourself to be knowledgeable and to offer great customer service.”
He believed me, and we started work for him a week later. About six months into our work with him, he called me all excited. A bank, he reported, offered him all their foreclosure work. When he asked them why they chose his firm, the banker replied that he’d looked at the contractor’s website and could tell he knew what he was doing.
Marketing includes strong calls-to-action and engaging ad copy, but it also includes educating the customer or prospect.
Ask the company next door to yours what sets them apart from their competitors and ninety percent will say “customer service.” But what does that mean? How do they serve their customers above and beyond what their competitors offer?
Education-based marketing sets your company apart from your competition because not everyone will take the time or spend the money to create the content this strategy requires. As our contractor client discovered, however, the return on investment for education-based marketing is high.
How is Education-Based Marketing Different?
When you think about advertising, images of glossy ads, flashy graphics, and high-pressure “buy now” calls-to-action come to mind. These sales tactics have their place in every marketing strategy. Eventually, you need your prospects to buy and your customers to buy more or you won’t be in business long.
Education-based marketing takes some of the sales pressure off your ad copy. It puts your customer, not your product or service, first. And isn’t that what good customer service really is all about? This strategy may include tips or tricks related to your industry or product. Think recipes for companies who sell kitchen appliances, home decor trends for a contractor, or healthy living tips for a medical clinic. For B2B companies it may include information on industry regulations or how to get better value from your product or service.
These strategies go even deeper into media options like podcasts, videos, white papers, and blogs. You can create short videos demonstrating a shortcut or tip for using your product or an interview with an industry insider about expected trends.
Education-Based Marketing Tools
We have a lot of options to create engaging content including video, audio, and the written word. You can start your strategy by using a simple graphic design program like Canva.com and creating tips for your social media followers. These aren’t strong calls to action, but rather information to help your followers make informed decisions.
If you’re ready to launch an all-out educational campaign, branch off into the mediums that require a little more work like podcasts or video. For instance, you can create a podcast discussing specific trends, how-tos, or challenges relevant to your customer base. Your iPhone or a local videographer can help you turn that same information into a video. A transcript prepares it for your website as a blog. (You can also embed the podcast and video into your website.) And short quotable blurbs offer you great content for social media.
The technology required to create each of those pieces is more readily available now than ever. Order a microphone and green screen online. New smartphones offer crazy sharp video recordings. And you can find free or inexpensive video editing software online.
The biggest question soon becomes how do I create the time to put together all these great ideas? Companies with a dedicated marketing person or team may already have the resources to make this happen. Companies who haven’t filled that position yet can outsource various parts of the process or hire an outside marketing team (like us) to coordinate the entire strategy.
Speaking of strategy, the key to a winning education marketing campaign is goal setting and consistency. What do you want to accomplish with your campaign? Sales of a specific product? Top of mind awareness? Calls to your company? Easier access to decision-makers? Your content topics and mediums should reflect those goals.
When it comes to consistency, remember, you can’t expect success after publishing one or two pieces of content. You’ll need a schedule of how often you want to publish new content. Also, ask yourself with what media would you like to start? If you want to publish a new podcast every week, when do you need to record your podcast to have it ready to go the same day of every week? Now it’s all about marking your calendar to make sure it’s done.
Next, you’ll want to think through your topics. Start with an outline of common questions your clients or customers ask, new tools or trends available in your industry, and what you wish your clients knew. Which of these topics, products, or services would help you reach your goals? Start with those topics.
As you create content, think about what customers need or want to know at different phases of their buying journey. Can you offer more detail in a white paper but skim the surface to get their attention in a social media post?
An education-based marketing strategy is part of your overall marketing plan and can lead to a full customer education program. These programs allow you to answer customer questions in bulk without having to take hundreds of phone calls to repeat the same information over and over. It also saves on overhead costs by eliminating some in-person training (a great option in today’s world).
The bottom line is that you are an expert in your field. You eat, drink, breathe your work. Maybe your clients do too, or maybe the service you offer is a tiny piece of their overall responsibilities. In the latter case, you become a trusted advisor, especially when they see you sharing your information freely.
Need help creating content or an education-based marketing strategy? We have in-house creators and strategists to help you succeed.