When you think about marketing to a prospective client, customer, or consumer, do you think, "How can I sell to this person?" If so, you may wish to change your way of thinking to a business marketing model that can quickly increase sales, reduce costs, improve profitability and decrease your sales cycle time. It's called education-based marketing (EBM).
There is a common misconception that the most important function of marketing is to promote products and services. However, the real function of marketing is to establish a company honest, reliable, and trustworthy. That's because most people don't do business with people they don't trust. Even if you have the lowest prices, if your prospect doesn't trust you, it will be difficult to close the sale...and that is the driving force behind EBM.
Prospects today are more educated and have information available to them at their fingertips than ever before, in part because of the internet. Your prospects and clients want information and credible advice. What they don't want is a sales pitch. Therefore, no matter what product you sell or service you provide, you must think about customer education because customers and prospects give you their total attention when you offer information that helps them achieve their goals
Building relationships with rapport
Each time you communicate with a prospect, whether via e-mail, a company newsletter, or with the content on a web page – you are building a relationship. Your credibility will be increased significantly when those communications start off with information that is of value to the prospect. When you educate rather than sell, you build rapport. This is not true of advertising. Advertising can cause consumers to put up a wall because they are immediately skeptical of a sales pitch. So a good rule of thumb in education-based marketing is that all communications begin by teaching your prospect something or by offering data that establishes that you've done your homework to find out what your prospects care about.
Creating demand with knowledge
EBM creates demand for what you have to offer by showing the prospects
- Why they need your products and services
- How to make intelligent buying decision
- How to best use it after they buy
The information you provide, pre-sells prospects and differentiates you from your competitors. In this way, EBM builds customer confidence and positions you as a unique, trusted advisor. It answers all the questions that must be addressed before prospects will buy:
- Who benefits from the product or service?
- What benefits does the product or service provide?
- When is the product or service needed?
- Where is the product or service used?
- How do you choose and use it?
EBM makes it easy to succeed
Conventional advertising is hard to create because it's judged by its creativity – how effectively it attracts attention, how cleverly it delivers its message and how memorable it is. Education-Based Marketing, however, is much easier to create because the goal is to inform, rather than interrupt, manipulate or show-off. You can distribute educational messages for free as web site downloads or as e-mail attachments.
Online marketing experts are often called on to help companies with all aspects of their EBM campaigns including content, layout and design, and delivery options for popular education giveaways such as:
- E-books – offer in-depth, procedural descriptions and communicate how-to-buy and how-to-use tips for your product or service
- White Papers – analyse challenges and trends and show how to benefit from your products and services.
- Autoresponder Courses – deliver information in chunks over a period of several days – or even weeks to educate prospects and offer ongoing support and education for using your product
- Video Lessons – record simple information modules that can be downloaded by prospects or viewed on your site
- E-mail Newsletters – keep in constant touch with customers on topics from sales and discounts, to new products, and new industry advancements...without addressing, printing and postage costs.
As you strive to educate your customers, you will build a relationship of trust with them. And when customers' fears begin to fade, their willingness to buy from you will increase. The key is to keep the information flowing because the effects of EBM are cumulative.
- The writer is Digital Marketing Consultant at WSI. The views expressed are his own