If You’re Not Educating Your Customers, Your Competitors Will

If You’re Not Educating Your Customers, Your Competitors Will

By Joel Widmer | Content Marketing

Jan 28
customer education

Remember the last time you published a piece of educational content and sat there, kinda squinting at it with your head tilted, questioning its helpfulness, but just hit 'publish' anyway? Yep THAT time…

Well, it cost you a bunch of leads.

If you want your next educational content to not only generate more leads, but even have your prospects sharing fire emojis in the comments, you're in the right place.

So what are the strengths of educational content? And with 79% of businesses flooding the internet with it right now, how does yours stand out?

The Key Qualities of Genuinely Helpful Customer Education

Let's cover a quick list of qualities to help your content assets shine. Good educational content is:

Objective: It's good to take a stance. AND, when "educational content" frames a product or service in a biased 'us versus them' message, it's more like "preachecational content". If your audience wanted to be preached to, they'd probably be on a different website.

An unbiased look at different perspectives helps your audience make their own mind up with no need to check out the competition.

Comprehensive: Imagine if you didn't cover everything your audience needed in the material so they bounced off to your competitors who did. Comprehensive material is sticky and your relationship with your audience is more likely to improve.

Empathetic: Great educational content anticipates its audiences' needs. It does this by positioning itself inside their shoes. It answers questions before they even arise, knowing how your audience feels at this point in their lives and in their buyer journey.

customer education

Grandma Tested: In the case of instructional content, it's passed the "Grandma Test". This is especially true of technical instructional content, although less true when covering skills at which grandmas tend to be aficionados, such as knitting.

Point being, when you're an expert in your field, it's easy to overlook something that's so obvious to you, but like an alien language to someone else. Think back when you got started and knew nothing. Put yourself there and teach with a beginner's mind.

Attractive: Educational content can be long and, according to Newscred, the average person spends only 37 seconds reading a blog post so the odds of them reading your entire post are stacked against you.

These best practices help you beat those odds. Use your subheadings like signposts, illustrate points with images and make your paragraphs short. Check out our guide on blog formatting for more reader engagement strategies.

Made for humans: Google might well be a real human in the future. But for now, it's just a creepily accurate search algorithm. The algorithm works its way towards knowing what content is best for its users so it can deliver them an excellent experience.

If you give Google what it wants (killer content that fully satisfies the target keyword intent), it'll give you what you want.

Branded: And I don't just mean with a logo, although it's great to build that positive association with your brand. With your company logo and colors brightening up your content and your brand's personality woven throughout, you'll capture your audience's attention. Especially if it's designed to speak directly to your buyer persona.

4 Ways Educational Content Pays Off For You and Your Clients

Now that you know how to recognize quality customer education, how do you convince your boss (and yourself) it's worth investing the time to create it?

Here are the four major customer education payoffs we've seen for ourselves and clients...

1. Prevent complaints and improve adoption.

Imagine if you could anticipate and handle each problem, roadblock and objection your customers have from the sales stage to onboarding and each stage after...

Well, you can.

It's a strength of educational content. And chances are, you have everything you need to do it. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name each stage of your customer lifecycle.
  2. Write down every question, objection and suggestion you get from prospects and clients at each stage.
  3. Create filters for each. Something like "when a question is asked more than 3 times" can work well.
  4. Create educational content for anything that passes your filters.
  5. Update your processes with this material and enjoy your happy customers.

We find a simple spreadsheet like this works well. Feel free to make a copy and adapt it as needed.

customer education

This piece matters because around half of B2B buyers will get through three pieces of your content before they talk with your salespeople. How warm will your prospects be before that call?

2. Build trust and loyalty while growing your brand.

When you help solve your customers' problems and make their lives easier, you also create experiences and content they're proud to share with others.

This creates a ripple effect in growing your brand and influence.

Our client, Tom Stimson, does a great job of this on his AV Consulting Blog and workshops. It's helped him become the leader in helping AV businesses grow.

3. Turn unqualified prospects into advocates.

When you have a library of solid educational content such as books, eBooks and courses, you can leverage them to transform unqualified prospects into brand advocates.

Whenever I have a sales call and my prospect isn't a good match for Fluxe, I'll share one of the above resources to help them out. We then end on a more positive note, and they may mention me to someone more suitable.

4. Pre-qualify prospects.

Educational content can also be a gatekeeper.

You know those sales calls or coffee meetings where you spend an hour with a prospect only to find out they weren't entirely up-front about their situation and you're not a good fit? They don't need to happen.

Sending educational material ahead of meetings or calls helps you pre-qualify your prospects. You can check how serious they are, and save a TON of time.

Also, if someone who isn't your buyer persona comes along, they'll discover you're not really for them, saving you an hour sales call with someone who was never even a prospect.

How to Educate Your Clients AND Move Them Forward

Your goal isn't just to educate, but to motivate. This means giving your audience a clear next step to take when they're ready to work with you.

Please note that that does NOT mean adding a sentence at the end of every post saying, "When you're ready to buy, click here to contact us." đź¤®

That just screams "I'm desperate," repelling your audience.

What's your typical approach when someone's keen to work with you? If you're a consultant for example, you might set up calls to qualify them, asking questions about their business.

You can start this process after a blog post or video by offering a content upgrade or educational email sequence to teach them how you work and prepare them for a call.

That way, your prospects know exactly what to expect and your initial talk doesn't just feel like a thinly veiled sales call.

I've even had medical practice clients print off their blog posts and leave them in the waiting rooms and lobbies next to the magazines for patients.

Remember there are three types of content: Top, middle and bottom of funnel. Your target customers will be more responsive and likely to take the next step when consuming middle and bottom of funnel content.

Related content links can be great for encouraging people from the top to the middle of your funnel.

marketing funnels

The important thing is that you intentionally encourage the buyer journey to continue, even if you know it's not as linear as many diagrams would have you believe.

Use Your Content Strategically

Your competitors publish and forget about their content. Please don't settle for that.

It's too common for the creator to be the only person who knows your content is even published. That's such a waste of great material that could make other departments lives so much easier!

Your educational content is part of your customer support, client acquisition and onboarding, even employee training.

And just like you continually improve each of those pieces of your business, do the same with your customer education. Planning, launching, gathering feedback and improving it as you go.


About the Author

Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife, son, and daughter.

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