Selling and marketing with educational content (via a blog, webinar, seminar, newsletter, magazine, workshop, report, eBook, tip sheet etc.) is not about convincing someone to buy something that they don’t want or need. Rather, it’s about overcoming objections to buying from you.
Effective marketing now requires that educational content is part of the strategy conversation in almost every business. ( Get more insight in this free eBook: 7 Components of a Successful Marketing Plan)
The word content itself has a lot of hoopla around it today making it difficult for many organizations to view it with the granularity needed and discover the role it plays in the customer life cycle.
On a strategic level, content must mean more than a blog post, status update or tweet. You must think about your content achieving a strategic business goal or objective. Building an asset to serve your organization over time.
You must also think in terms of your content as a marketing tool that moves suspects to prospects, prospects to customers, customers to advocates and in this effort there are at least four types of content that you must address.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Suspect Content – Everyone in your target market
When your entire target market is not aware of your company, product, service or the benefit it offers, then the first objective of content is to simply build trust.
Trust can be built through:
- Customer Reviews
At the heart of every transaction is TRUST and in general, trust is what’s in short supply. If more people trust you, everything else will fall into place.
There’s a really big gap between someone being aware of you (which is really hard) and someone trusting you, enough to invest in you or buy from you.
Prospect Content – Anyone who has taken action to solve a problem that you can assist them with
There’s an huge difference between awareness and action. Putting something in the world for awareness is useless if it doesn’t lead to taking action.
As the market begins to trust you and competitors enter that market. Prospects will seek a differentiation….your unique approach, your solution, your message and your organization.
At this stage you need to you need to educate about that differentiation:
- Special Reports
- Marketing Kit
People want to be educated not sold. They will sell themselves if you just stick to educating.
Customer Content – A person or organization that has bought products or services from you
You’ve done all this work attracting and educating now show your customers how to get the most out of what they just bought. This builds loyalty and community.
- How-to information
- New Customer Kit
- Q&A Sessions
This is were most organizations stop their marketing but you should continue it if you want repeat sales.
Advocate Content – A person or organization that tells others and basically sells for you
This last stage of the customer lifecycle is one that gets overlooked in view of content. Ultimately, great content has the ability to help your advocates spread the word and increase awareness, generate leads and convert prospects .
- Referral coupons
- Access to “behind the scenes” content
- Customer appreciation events
Think about this
Here’s the deal. This closely resembles the customer life cycle for every market. It begins in stage one and closes in stage four As you can see this presents some challenges for business owners and organizations, namely, they must adapt or perish.
You may enter a new market and clean house, only to fall behind when competitors enter and steal market share. The business of successful marketing and selling is about constant improvement. Constant change.