What does Education have to do with Marketing?
I was going to use the question above to title this post, but then I realized that I was making the precise mistake that I am going to blog about – Making your titles/headlines/subject lines or your entire content too specific. The consequence is that you lose the vast majority of your audience that may not be ready to buy your product or services now, but may be be in the future. Being too specific in your pitch may be damaging your opportunities to build a stronger sales pipeline in the long run. This is what Chet Holmes talks about on chapter 4 – “Becoming a Brilliant Strategist, How to Get Up to Nine Times More Impact from Every Move You Make” – of his Amazon and New York Times best-selling book “The Ultimate Sales Machine”. He calls is “Education-Based Marketing”.
I have to say that I agree with his recommendation only to some extent. Conceptually it makes a lot of sense, however what happens when everyone else (your competitors) have also learned this? and they are changing their marketing messages too, from being very tactical or street-level to more strategic in order to build brand awareness, recognition, trust and thought leadership? I get bombarded all the time with webinars, white papers, podcasts, blog posts and videos with strategic marketing content. How to achieve better Marketing ROI with web analytics? How to incorporate Social Media into the overall marketing strategy? How to drive more leads? So, what I do with them is delete them right away because I have seen them all already.
If you noticed, the media I made a reference to, from which I get most, if not all my content, is online. Why is this important? Because sales and marketing happens on and off-line as we all know and the strategies should be coordinated but different. Being more strategic on your messaging, like Chet Holmes recommends, makes a lot of sense via traditional media and on sales activities such as cold calling, trade shows, conferences or networking. I want to emphasize that I strongly agree with such strategy when dealing offline, however, when you are online the game is different. The economics and the rules are different so you can implement a long-tail strategy to reach each segment with the right message at the right time.
I want to conclude with 6 suggestions to increase your sales performance using education-based marketing and online media (but make sure to complement it with offline media)
- Create targeted education-based messages. Identify the market segments or industries that you want to target and create a content strategy for them. But you can’t stop there, you have to create different messages based on where in the purchasing process the prospect may be: not considering, thus a more strategic message; researching, thus a more tactical message; or ready to purchase, an offer based message.
- Use and integrate different online channels. Prospects may use different channels at different stages in the purchasing cycle, so you need to be present on all of them with the appropriate message. For example those that are researching may start (probably will) on Google so you want to make sure that your optimized (blog, website, social media sites) for the keywords used at this stage in the process with content that is more educational on why you are better than your competitor. In addition, you also want to have a separate web and content optimization strategy for those that not considering by using a more strategic message and for those that are ready to pull the trigger using for example email marketing to your house list with strong offers to those that have shown interest in your product or services.
- Implement adequate supporting technology. You need to have the appropriate technology given your reality, otherwise all the work that you do on the front end to drive traffic to your website, blog, social media sites and any others may be lost. Assess what kind of volume you expect to get given your investment in online marketing communications, and what resources you can dedicate to monitor and turn that traffic into sales opportunities. Then, do a through research because there are hundreds of software as a service (SaaS) providers that can help you. But make sure to adopt one or a combination of several.
- Nurture a develop online relationships. Once you identify the leads, make sure to categorize them based on their time to purchase. That will give you more insight into how nurture them, what type of content to share with them and with what frequency. Engage with them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Nings and on the Blogs.
- Drive online interactions to offline relationships as soon as possible. It is my opinion that all these online tools; web 2.0, social media, or whatever you want to call them, will never replace face to face interaction. However they can be a great bridge to get you a face-to-face interaction and very effective tools to help you maintain and develop those relationships.
- Analyze and refine. Establish clear goals and objectives for your plan from the beginning. As you probably know, what does not get measured, does not get improved. Utilize the technology in place and frequently challenge the process and results you’re getting to find ways to improve them.
Any thoughts or comments? Go ahead tell me what you think.