Why it’s time to stop selling and start educating

We both run businesses. And we both know that keeping our businesses alive relies on our ability to sell what we offer. So, what I’m going to say next might seem a little unintuitive, but please hear me out. It’s time to stop selling and start educating.

Say what now?

The problem is… people are inundated with advertisements. Online banners bounce off eyeballs, and unopened direct mail clogs up recycling bins. Research even shows this kind of outbound marketing is actually repelling potential customers – one study found that 84% of 23–35-year-olds had stopped visiting a favourite website, due to intrusive adverts.

Think of it this way: Imagine there’s a large group of people who aren’t interested in buying what you sell right now. Some of them aren’t currently aware they need your product or service. Others are aware, but they don’t have the budget. And some people are adamant they don’t need you, and never will. Of course, a small percentage are interested and willing to buy now.

You might reach that small percentage of people with a concerted sales campaign. But you’ll never touch the rest.

Which is why education matters. If you can create engaging content that dials down the sales pitch, and provides genuinely useful, insightful, and relevant information, you’ll build an audience that shares your content, shares your journey, and ultimately shares their business with you. After all, you’re the trusted expert who helped them.

What kind of content should I create to achieve this?

Think of your content as a conversation. It sounds more human, and that’s exactly how you want to come across. It’s what we’re doing right now, actually. Having a conversation.

How am I meant to have a one-to-one conversation with all my potential customers when I don’t even know who they are?

I don’t know who you are, and yet we’re talking. To do that, I created a buyer persona. Using everything I know about my industry (marketing), my existing clients, and the people who connect with my team, I drew up a persona for my ideal client. That isn’t to say all your customers are identical, but they will share some of the same general factors.

Maybe you’ll recognise certain trends in your own customer base, such as age, location, educational level, and the kind of jobs they tend to have. You might even have access to personal information, such as their relationship status, and how many children they have. You should also aim to understand where they like to spend their time online (which social media do they like? What is their favourite news site? What do they do for fun?).

And you will need to pinpoint the kind of things that ruin their day, stop them achieving their goals, and what they currently do to solve those problems.

Some businesses create a file with names like ‘Buyer Persona A, B, C,’ and others will go all in and give their personas names and physical attributes. Either is fine. But make no mistake, that buyer persona is key to having a meaningful conversation with your target market.

In my case, I specifically want to reach people who are:

  • Worried their current marketing efforts can’t provide a measurable ROI.
  • Looking to find more prospects at less expense.
  • Eager to establish a brand reputation as industry experts.

So, what conversations are we going to have with our future customers?

Personally, I’d suggest going down the CHUG route. CHUG stands for:

  • Say you want your blog to become the go-to hub of knowledge about your industry or niche, then you need to create a consistent schedule of posts. Your audience will soon learn when to expect new content, whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, and will drop in to see what you’ve got for them. Maintaining a consistent schedule shows respect for their time and builds trust.
  • This goes back to what I was saying in part one. Marketing copy that goes straight to the hard sell doesn’t have the same effect it used to. In an era where Google searches for testimonials, independent reviews, and fact checks can verify company boasts in seconds, establishing a relationship based on trust and honesty is vital. For example, a company that promises an ‘unconditional guarantee’ that actually only lasts for six months, will likely end up with unhappy (and vocal) customers down the line. Whereas a company that offers ‘a six-month guarantee’ sets the appropriate expectations, and ultimately provides a better customer experience.
  • If you know what is holding your ideal customers back from their goals, you can create content that offers genuine value. You can explain what it is your products or services do to make their lives better, show how other customers are using your services to improve their ROI and highlight other things that will improve how they do business.
  • To build and educate an audience requires being seen as a giver. Things like live presentations, Q&A sessions, webinars, and free initial consultations are a great way to pull people into your orbit. Where traditional marketing requires you to hunt prospects in the wild, giving freely means you can draw your ideal customers towards you.

So, I am selling after all? You said I wasn’t meant to do that.

Yes, absolutely you’re selling. The more educated your ideal customers are about their problems, the more ‘ripe for conversion’ they’ll be. The more chances you give people to interact with you, say to reach out for a free consultation, or through feedback requests post-webinar, the more chance you have of starting those conversations that could lead to sales.

You’ll attract people when they’re building awareness of their problem, draw them in when they’re considering how to solve that problem and be a trusted voice to guide them through those final purchase decisions.

All that because of a blog?

For many businesses, their blog and website is their hub. With the right design, it’s also a stepping off point. It’s where visitors come to book a demo at the click of a button, respond to surveys, and submit their contact details so they can download useful extra content. If you can make it easy for people to take those next steps, you’ve just opened up your ability to create more personalised conversations.

And what does all this mean for my bottom line?

A more than fair question. After all, we’ve talked a lot about giving generously to your potential customers. But these methods also create generous results for you. Research by sales and marketing platform HubSpot showed that a well-executed inbound marketing strategy is 10x more effective at lead conversion than traditional methods. And at less cost. The same research revealed that after five months of consistently producing educational content, the marketing spend per lead had dropped to a fifth of the costs involved with securing an outbound marketing lead.

Want to continue this conversation? Why not book your free marketing audit? We’ll take a close look at your current marketing approach and see where you could go next.

Get in touch with the team today and watch your business grow