Communicate to Educate – Some Timely Advice

Mark Vincent

Recently I came across a book called ‘The Profitable Consultant’ written by Jay Niblick, and published a couple of years ago.  One of the sections focuses on marketing.  Given all the change that has happened in the marketing environment over the last few years, it was refreshing to find someone who really knows what he’s talking about.  He refers to education-based marketing which has always struck me as the way people involved in the knowledge and advisory services sector should think about their marketing activities.

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Niblick differentiates between what he calls education-based marketing (EBM) and sales-based marketing.  In the latter you adopt the role of a sales person and pitch a sales message. Conversely, in education-based marketing, you take the stance of an expert or thought leader and educate prospects about the challenges they possibly face.  In other words education-based marketing is centred on an educational, informative message, not a sales spiel.  Methods of EBM include:

  • written materials
  • publicity
  • advertising
  • seminars
  • webinars
  • blogs
  • websites
  • videos

The pitfalls of sales-based marketing include the following:

  • clients are likely to avid you because they do not like being sold to or sales pressure
  • because you come across as a salesperson, people may not trust you
  • people can become defensive and protective in order to withstand any likely pressure to buy something they don’t want or need.

In contrast, EBM has the following advantages:

  • prospective clients get what they want (information and advice) and you remove what they don’t’ want – sales pressure
  • you do not have to seek out prospects; they seek you out
  • you can reach prospects early in the decision-making process – often before they call your competitors
  • you can screen out people who are not genuinely interested in your services
  • because you have striven to give, not to receive, you will generate more goodwill and loyalty.

When you think about this you have to ask yourself a couple of pretty important questions about your own marketing activities:

  1. Is your current marketing more likely to have the characteristics of sales-based marketing or education-based marketing?
  2. What educational messages do you currently provide prospects or clients as part of your overall marketing program?

In a professional service environment your primary marketing task is to educate your clients not advertise to them.

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