Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Selling Is Educating (and Vice Versa)

Are you a teacher? If you're in sales (and who isn't, really, when you think about it), then the answer is yes.

Think of it this way: Would you buy something -- anything -- when you didn't know what it was, what it was for, or how it could benefit you? If so, then you've probably purchased enough swamp land over the years to start your own mosquito ranch. Most of us would just stare blankly at the item in question, and then redirect our attention to something more recognizably useful. Your business has to educate its prospective customers on its products and services, and that's where skillful, focused, specific content marketing comes in.

Writers know that "doing" verbs (runs, creates, proves, energizes) make more of an impact than "being" verbs (am, are, is, has). Well, that goes for marketing content as well. Joe Client cares less about what a thing is than what that thing does. Specifically, he wants to know what it does for him. This is just another way of thinking about the tired old rule, "Push the benefits, not the features," but it works. When you shift your marketing focus from "What It Is" to "What It Does," the product's attractiveness suddenly leaps out at the average person who couldn't care less about its technical specifications. 

One of my favorite examples of this is the blogging I did for a company that specialized in metric screws, bolts and other fasteners. Fascinating stuff, right? But as I learned more about the various fasteners, I began to see that they each had different (and interesting) real-world applications:

  • Building a boat? You'll want zinc-tipped or silicon bronze screws for corrosion resistance. 
  • Preparing a commercial construction project? You need a ready source for sturdy bolts and rivets in a wide range of sizes. 
  • Assembling electronic components? Let's talk about non-conductive fasteners. 

Et cetera. So I created a series of blog articles along those lines, conjuring up images of construction crews enjoying greater productivity, manufacturing floors purring away productively, boat enthusiasts enjoying summer on the lake and so on. Now we had something exciting to talk about -- the bottom-line benefits of purchasing those metric fasteners.

As you can see, educating your customer involves more than just throwing a bunch of numbers at them. Unless that person understands how those numbers translate into benefits, you're wasting your time. Instead, focus on explaining how your product or service solves a specific need. That's educating to sell -- so make your curriculum compelling (with the aid of a professional copywriter), and aim for a graduating class of A-plus clients!