Marketing Director at Sunshine Group, developing and guiding promotion strategies for the company’s brands.
In today’s oversaturated informational environment, it can be challenging to attract an audience’s attention and convert ad viewers into brand followers and, eventually, loyal customers.
Traditional advertising is losing its appeal and engagement power. In 2019, 60% of marketing professionals (subscription required) concluded that the content types most valued by their target audience were case studies and research materials, while 34% said the same about the importance of photos and infographics provided by a brand.
In other words, as people grow tired of promotional content, many advertisers have looked to alternative means of fruitful communication. In my own work, I’ve found that educational marketing is one of the most reasonable options in terms of its cost-effectiveness and the value it brings to both the marketer and the client.
What Makes Educational Marketing So Desirable?
Educational marketing represents a socially responsible approach to interacting with an audience and answering its needs — not with a straightforward product solution but with free and highly valuable content.
Even when customer-oriented advice does not result in an immediate purchase, it still influences the decision-making process in the long term. Having used the expert insights for free and observing the differences they make, a person is more likely to transit from a potential customer to a loyal one.
Educational Marketing For Business Purposes
Here at Sunshine Group, we’re facing the challenge of promoting relatively complex products, such as e-commerce software that helps users with little to no technical background create and run fully functional online stores.
This is not an intuitively understandable concept. So, to make it more accessible to our audience, we developed a three-step promotional strategy based on educating our customers, which other marketers might find useful.
Step 1: In-Depth Guide Creation
The very first thing we did was create a helpful resource for newcomer e-commerce entrepreneurs.
A dedicated team of copywriters, designers and tech specialists came up with a detailed guide on how to launch an online store from scratch. This full-scale textbook, aimed at a wide circle of readers, was downloaded over 2,000 times in the first two weeks after its introduction and it remains popular up to this day.
Recently, we also released a video version for those who prefer watching to reading. Given the guide’s practical value and beginner-friendly presentation, it could have been an enviable money-making asset for the company, but we have always been distributing it for free.
Even though the guide itself contains no direct advertising of our solutions, a good number of its readers end up becoming our clients. This leads us to believe that educational marketing enables us to gain a loyal audience of brand followers and supporters, and it fuels our further content creation actions.
Practical Advice: Based on your previous interactions with your target audience, consider creating a video guide, an e-book or a PDF file that’s easy for them to download and access. Make sure it addresses the pain points of your customers. Repeatedly distribute it through every channel that’s relevant to your audience and allows free access: social media, paid ads, emails, industry forums, etc.
Step 2: Real-Time Demonstration Of The Product Capabilities
Continuing with the knowledge-driven marketing strategy, we decided to explain our product’s work through an actual example.
On the software pre-launch stage, Yaroslav Nevsky, our CEO, built a store with our solution’s help and started sharing his personal insights on the most popular digital marketing platforms allowing free access. Along this new user’s journey, he explained the store creation and setup procedures in detail. Answering our audience’s questions about the process and the tool’s functionality, he shared convincing visuals: recent screenshots, graphs and encouraging statistical data.
Subsequently, by the time the software was completely ready to enter the market, a significant segment of our target audience was already aware of its existence, had a clear idea of how to use it and was highly motivated to try it out. This, in turn, led to a successful product launch and let us keep investing in educational marketing as the primary means of promoting our solutions.
Practical Advice: Illustrate your product’s scope of action in a way that’s immediately clear, even to a person seeing your offer for the first time. Recreating a new user’s experience can be a winning solution as it answers potential questions well in advance and lets your audience members identify themselves with the persona you’ve created.
Step 3: Continuous Audience Education
Now, as our experience proves that readily available industry insights, beginner guidelines and case studies hold a great value for our customers, we keep creating and delivering relevant materials for free.
We run a daily updated blog where our team explains all the aspects of running an online business, from choosing a search engine optimization (SEO)-friendly domain name to evaluating prospective suppliers. These articles, along with the associated videos specifically filmed for our YouTube channel, are freely distributed through emails, social media and industry forums.
Practical Advice: Address your followers’ response to adapt your newly created materials to their specific needs. Monitor (and answer!) their comments, track the number of views for different types of content and deliberately ask them for feedback in order to improve on the resources your providing.
In our experience, the number of views and shares proves that success stories (textual and video interviews with our clients) and case studies (step-by-step explanations of our own online business actions and their results) have the greatest significance for our audience. It leads to a conclusion that the opportunity to closely follow someone else’s progress and learn from the predecessor’s experience is of paramount importance for the current and future users of our solutions.
Your brand’s self-developed educational marketing mechanism should be kept active for as long as the brand exists — it will continue bringing value to your followers for years to come.
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