One of the shifts in the buying process that has occurred in the 21st century is the fact that our prospects come to us with more information about our products, services and competitors than ever before.

Back in the early days (some call them the “good old days”), prospects needed to talk to a sales professional in order to get the complete scope of information that is applicable to that product or service. This is no longer the case.

Consequently, we must market differently. Old-school marketing talked about the “speeds and feeds” of our products. In other words, the technical capabilities were, in and of themselves, impressive enough to generate an adequate level of interest on the part of a prospect.

Unfortunately, as we move further into the 21st century, that approach to marketing doesn’t work. Neither does it serve well to generate leads which should become sales-ready leads.

What is needed is Educational Marketing.

As the name implies, EM (Educational Marketing) is a process of educating our prospects, rather than pitching them.marketing strategy

Prospects must be educated to understand the quantity, quality and value of results that are produced when they engage your company’s products or services. If the prospect doesn’t understand that the results produced align with the results desired, you probably won’t get an engagement.

If you’re selling high-tech products and services, this concept of Educational Marketing is even more important.

This is due to the fact that many of the “buzzwords” that we use to refer to technologies, products and services are alien to the average, non-technical decision-maker.

Again, education is required. Now, the best way to educate a prospect is a combination of complimentary webinars, white papers, and/or testimonials from existing customers.

When you choose webinars as the vehicle for education, you will be positioning yourself as a thought leader.

This is ideal, especially if you’re selling a concept or a service that is intangible and/or the results of which can’t be proven until after the prospect implements your services and products. If the value of your services isn’t immediately visible, then you must educate the prospect.

Now, Educational Marketing takes more time and patience than pitching.

Unfortunately, pitching causes you to expend a great deal of energy and money in hopes to get a return. The slow but steady approach of Educational Marketing will produce far better overall returns in the course of a year. But, be patient. The returns aren’t instantaneous.

Remember that, once you have obtained top-of-mind awareness through either an offer of a white paper or a webinar or a face-to-face meeting or a seminar or a series of testimonials, you must continue to educate.

It is the failure to follow up and adhere to the rules of closed-loop marketing that causes most Educational Marketing initiatives to fail.

When you fail to follow up, your Educational Marketing efforts may have created a “dose” of education but not enough to stimulate the desire action on the part of your prospect. Make sure that you educate each prospect perpetually.

It may require 7, 8, 9 or 10 interactions with a prospect before they are educated to the point that they are willing to change part or all of their behavior.

Now, don’t get frustrated with that high number of touches that are required to educate a prospect.

Research has shown that these touches can be phone calls, emails, newsletters, postcards, webinar invitations, tradeshow meetings, networking events, etc. In short, any touch is better than no touch, as long as it is educational.

To keep yourself on the straight and narrow as it applies to Educational Marketing, make sure you adhere to the rule of avoiding, at all costs, any terminology or mention of a price.

If your marketing material incorporates a price, then you will be effective if and only ifyour product has no competition and/or the results that your product produces are obvious to any interested party.

Give it a try, lay out a game plan to educate your market monthly throughout the course of a year, and you will have the success you deserve.

Educational Marketing: What Is It? Why Do You Need It?” was first published on gilcargill.com.

A blog by Gil Cargill, Author, Business Consultant and Speaker.

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