As I was thinking about this very same topic while checking my LinkedIn notifications, there’s a new post from Chris Brogan already claiming that Teaching, is the new sales machine, so I didn’t coin this subject at all. And what concept is it? The age of selling per se is ending. If I reach you with a selling pitch, I need to break down a bunch of natural defences you put on before you even let me reach your brain. But if I try to teach you about something that you care about there’s an all different approach.
Imagine these two situations:
Situation 1: David, (no, I was not thinking on David Beckham but it can do the trick) is a businessman searching for catering service for his new Product Launch, and Google presented him with a bunch of choices. He’s browsing some of them and trying to decide while checking prices and services provided. He subscribes to some of those services while he still doesn’t have a formed opinion on either of them. Right after that first subscription, he gets lots of emails around the same topic: we’re the most amazing catering service in town, you should choose us because we’re the best, we’re this, we’re that… me, me, me, me… You get the picture. And then he gets an email from one of those services that deliver a worksheet on how to prepare to an event.
Things that you should take care of, things that you should prevent ahead… you get the idea. Yes, there are always ways to reach out for them, but their first objective is providing value and teach something of value. Which one do you think he would choose?
Situation 2: Taylor, (Swift? Maybe!) was browsing around her favourite news feed, and a headline just popped out. “How to choose the right Guitar for you in 10 simple steps?”. She’s an amateur singer that was thinking about getting some guitar lessons, so this was coming in handy. She checked the article in question and realized that it really was a self-promoting guitar brand article where they show off their own guitar models. Despite the great headline they didn’t deliver what they’ve promised since it was me, me, me, kind of post.
Frustration is something close to what she felt. But then, upset, she browsed for something more interesting and came to an article that was more dedicated to learning more about what makes each guitar different and what could be more adequate to each step of the learning process. This later article was also from a guitar manufacturer, but the main objective was to be useful with or without their own products. But that created goodwill, and she then browsed a little more in their pages and even subscribed to their newsletter.
Have you noticed something similar in both situations? When you try to hard-sell online, it isn’t easy to convert on your sales funnel. You need to invest so much more on advertising to drive traffic to your landing pages. However, if you assume a consumer-centric benefit approach, you see everything changing. You break the user’s natural protection defence against you and worry in providing outstanding value. If you’re giving value by teaching them on how to solve their problem, the most likely is for them to trust you. And in the future, you may end up by closing a deal with them.
Doing What We Preach, Teaching vs Selling
This is exactly what we’re trying to do at sendXmail(s) with our Email Newsletter and Blog articles. We try to give as much valuable information as possible for you to use on your own activities. We try very hard to not hard sell anything since it’s not how we do things. It’s not how we try to build our reputation.
If you apply every single marketing tip that we share on our newsletter, blog or social channels, you’ll get results. We know this because it’s based on our own experience and it worked for us. So, this seems like counter-intuitive. Why should we provide information and teach people for free? Shouldn’t we be monetizing this instead of giving it all away? The answer is definitely NO. Actually, you can, but it would not be as profitable as sharing and teaching people on solving their problems.
By doing this, you’re doing two things: you’re feeling good for providing value to the community and sharing experiences (I really love to do this) and second, you’re building a valuable image around fans that trust you and will be open to whatever you have of value for them.
If you try to use this strategy to sell bad products or services, it will also backfire against you. Giving value by teaching others on specific topics will provide a segmented niche of people with a need for a specific kind of service or product. If you have an awesome product or service to answer to these needs, you don’t need to sell them anything. It’s them that will reach you since you’ve created that rapport with them. I see that every day in our business. After giving a lot of workshops, posts, white-papers, ebooks, webinars and so many ways to share my knowledge, there’s a phone or email contact every day requesting our help on a specific subject where we can be useful. So we save a lot in advertising, sales pitch campaigns and so many misused marketing strategies. We focus on providing value.
And why am I talking so much about this instead of Email Marketing as I’m supposed to? Well, that’s because I want you to know that Email Marketing is just another channel where you shouldn’t use as a sales pitch (all the time). Have you already read the “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” from Gary Vaynerchuk? Well, you should. He talks about how that can be applied to every single marketing channel, as email actually is. It would be best if you focused on delivering value all the time. But eventually, you can apply some “right hooks” in precise moments to get the best results. And those moments usually are, when people already trust you and know that you’ll not suggest a crappy service to them. W
hen you have provided so much value that people are more than welcome to take your service or product almost as retribution. People feel compelled to do it. Again, it would be best if you did not place a call-to-action to sell something that’s not the right fit for those customers. They trust you and that trust should not be abused.
Teaching to Avoid Resistance
Listening to a great podcast from the guys at Unbounce, they shared something that we’re developing for some of our clients. Let’s say that you’re a debt financial recovery company. If you promote a debt recovery service per se, it won’t be a lot of people that are going to sympathize immediately with that ad or landing-page since it means they need help with that. You can insert a conversion form for those that need help immediately and have something else like an ebook on how to avoid some tax fees for those that need a little more information before committing to a call with a tax advisor.
This means that we make a solution for each type of customer: One for those who need immediate contact, and another to explore through an email dripping campaign, nurturing into a real customer when they’re ready.
It’s the same topic: teaching instead of hard-selling. Teach your leads since knowledgeable prospects convert better and give the necessary value to your services or products.
We live in an era of sharing knowledge. And still, people are willing to pay for someone to deliver even when they know how to do it themselves. It all depends on how well they are informed and the benefit they get.
How about you? What are you teaching your customers? Are you sharing your knowledge? Could you share your ideas with us?