Remember in school, when you participated in Science Fair, speech competitions and/or debating the controversial topics of the day? Those experiences were some of your best opportunities to understand how teaching your peers, mentors and other people can help you to:
- Capture attention
- Build credibility
- Increase your understanding of subject matter yourself
- Establish and nurture relationships
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- Establish strategic partnerships
Your prospects and customers prefer to educate themselves about what you offer rather than talk to a salesperson right away. Sales people apply pressure on customers (as they are trained to do) buy a product or a service on their timeline. If you are a sales or marketing professional, clients are often waiting until they are as much as 60-70 percent of the way through their decision making process before they contact a sales person.
If you aren’t teaching your prospects and customers about your domain expertise, your competitors definitely are!
What Should I be Teaching my Prospects About?
Blog posts are a great way to initiate the process of teaching your B2B clients about:
- How to reduce cost
- How to increase profitability
- How to better satisfy their customers and increase loyalty
- How to get their products to market faster and to the ultimate consumer on time
- How to deliver services on budget, on time and which create recurring revenue stream
Obviously there are many other topics you can cover, depending on your industry, yet these are common themes. Striking a balance between providing just enough educational content, and teaching your customer into the hands of a competitor is challenging.
You also don’t want to train yourself out of a consulting gig, software development contract or a software installation and integration contract by giving away all of your expertise.
A great way to provide your target audience with some thought leadership, without losing too much of your intellectual capital is to use gated content. Have a prospect register on your website before they can access your whitepapers, ebooks, guides and/or videos. Encourage them to sign up for your mailing list, or attend a web seminar.
When you are writing your web content, focus on the strategic business value of your products and services.
Create pages which showcase your:
- Success stories
- Industry expertise and strategic partnerships
- Strategic business benefits, though benchmarking studies or ROI calculators
- Involvement with industry associations, community groups and non-profit organizations
Know When to Hold a Prospect, Know When to Set them Free
Make it easy for a prospect to opt out of your marketing campaigns. If your content isn’t of value to someone, and they won’t be contracting your services, (or buying your products) anyway, they aren’t of any value to being in your database. It looks good to see a big number in your leads report.
Yet, any seasoned B2B sales professional will prefer to have 100 quality prospects who are interested in talking than one thousand leads who never want to talk to them.
There are many articles on the web on how to create engaging content for your audience. Write regularly and go deep on value. Keyword-stuffed Blog posts which are full of BS/fluff won’t help your credibility, and they won’t get shared among your target prospects on social media.
Examples of Educating to Sell
My “Top 10” of the most successful B2B thought leaders in the “educate to earn trust” category I know are:
- Jeffery Gitomer – B2B Selling Coach/Guru/Author
- Marketing Profs
- Atomic Reach
Educating customers with your marketing content helps you deliver value to customers, differentiate you from your competition, and establish loyalty. Consider the popularity of TED Talks. Another common example is Twitter chats have grown from organizations like Startup Canada/Intuit or Buffer.
Initiate conversations with your customers by helping them see the strategic value of your expertise. Web content is a way to let a prospective customer know you have experience in addressing concerns that they are looking to address, and are confident you can do so again. Build a following of prospective customers who look forward to hearing from you, because they looking forward to learning something new.
Have you run across a company or individual which is especially adept at using the “educating to build trust” model? Tell me about it in the comments section below, or contact me today!