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Hate Marketing? Then Stop Marketing and Start Teaching

marketing by teaching

Imagine you were teaching Calculus 101.

Would you expect your students to know the material when they first walk in the classroom?

On the first day of class, would you give them a pop quiz and expect them to do well?

Of course not! That’s completely ridiculous.

So why do you push products or services on your prospects with no pretext or explanation?

Are you making this common mistake when marketing to a consumer? Click To Tweet

Many of us make the common mistake and assume that when we market to a consumer, they understand what we’re trying to offer them. We think they understand the value of our product and service. After all, it’s very clear to us.

But users and consumers are like students. When it comes to your niche area, they’re still learning about themselves, about the world, about their needs.

And it’s time for you to listen to them.

Think of your prospects as students, so you can better understand and reach them. You’ll get better results with marketing by teaching, instead of selling.

Here are a few ways that your future customers are like students:

1. They Want to Close a Gap

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Just like students, your prospects are experiencing some sort of gap. For students, it will be a knowledge gap in whatever subject or degree they’re pursuing.

When you build an online course for a student—for example, an online class to become inbound marketing certifiedyou have to identify the students’ needs.

What does the student need to know about inbound marketing? What will they be looking for to develop themselves professionally? How can you design this course, so it gives them an elevated experience that transcends reading a bunch of articles online instead?

The same thing applies to your customers. In this case, your prospects have a gap in value provided. They have a pain or unmet need, and it is your job to solve it.

There’s no way you can hope to possibly figure out how to solve it or provide value if you don’t understand what this value gap is for your prospects. This means educating yourself on what your client or customer needs. You do this by asking questions, sending out surveys, developing customer personas, and pivoting your offerings based on your audience’s responses.

If you don’t assess their gap first, you might as well take a collection of random, meaningless objects—a pineapple lodged onto a hammer dumped in a dirty mop bucket—and put it in front of your prospects’ faces hoping they’ll buy it.

With no understanding of your audience’s pain points and unmet needs, you’ll be offering products and services that are just as meaningless and random to them as that same collection of objects.

Discover Your Audience’s Pain Points and Unmet Needs

2. They Both Need Education

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Marketing is as much about education as it is about advertising.

Once you figure out what your audience’s unmet need is and come up with a solution, they still need to be made aware of the value you’re offering to them.

You must help them realize why they need your product. Why is it finally time to resolve their pain instead of being complacent and leaving it be? Why is your offering better than the competitions’? What makes your product unique? 

Until you answer these questions, people won’t be compelled to buy from you.

Until you answer these questions, people won’t be compelled to buy from you.Click To Tweet

3. They Need Different Media

There are several ways to reach and teach your target market, depending on what your message is. You can use anything from video blogs, tutorials, to in-person product demonstrations.

Just like in a classroom, you don’t  use just one form of communication. Any university class will likely involve textbook readings, one-on-one communication with the professor, online tutorials, a separate platform to submit assignments, practice workbooks and assignments, field trips, group work, and others.  

And you have to consider the different learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.  

Just like a student, your audience needs care and nurturing. You must be able to provide the different tools and resources for them to understand and learn about your products and organization. And for them to be receptive to you when you communicate with them, you need to utilize different media and techniques.

Posting only an ad or text piece on Facebook might not be the best way to reach your customers. Not to mention, it’s much more effective to show customers what your company is about, rather than just tell them.

It is unlikely the potential consumers will want to buy your product just because you tell them they should.

You must make use of all types of communication, such as email, video, photographs, etc., to reach your target market.

In the examples below, see how WestJet doesn’t simply rely on their website to communicate critical information. By establishing a responsive and active customer service aspect to their Twitter feed, when a Facebook survey scam broke out impersonating the company, they were able to respond to customers and communicate with them to control the situation.

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4. They Are Personally Invested in Learning

Many of us choose a course or educational path because we’re interested in a particular profession. We invest our hearts, minds, time, and money into learning and applying our education.

At the end of the day, the course or degree represents a gateway to a career or an end goal we are trying to pursue.

A similar idea applies to your prospects. When you try to market a product, you must understand that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It represents a goal, a dream, a longing. 

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In the Facebook campaign above, we can see that Dove pushes a bigger idea and message than just their basic product offering. When Dove sells its products, they’re not only selling soap; they’re promoting the celebration of inner beauty and defining one’s own standards of beauty.

Here’s another example: The Ritz-Carlton charges an insane amount of money for their rooms, because they’re not just providing a bed for the night. They’re providing an experience with the highest standard of customer service befitting nobility.

“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” their motto says.

Outstanding service is of the utmost importance, and the organization ensures that they empower their employees to take ownership of this duty.

The point is, it’s crucial to understand that what you’re offering likely holds a deeper meaning to your audience members. You should be aware of what that is and align your messaging with it.

As you can see, marketing is not just a one-way communication where you tell consumers what you offer and they should buy it.

Marketing is an educational process for your prospects & customers. Learn more here:Click To Tweet

It’s a whole educational process where your prospects and customers need to become aware of their unmet needs, why they must fulfill these needs, and why your product is the perfect solution. You must communicate with them in a variety of creative ways to make sure that you reach them.

With the next marketing campaign, content calendar, or advertising initiative you take on, make sure to ask yourself first: Are my customers educated? Do they understand the value in my offering? What questions do they have before they buy my service or product?

Know the answers to these questions before you even begin to brainstorm the details of your campaign.

If you stop thinking about marketing as pushy, manipulative selling and instead focus on marketing by teaching your audience, what will you do differently?

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