Picture for a moment your community of buyers—potential and current customers.
Now imagine the journey they take.
First they are not aware that a problem exists.
Then they become aware. They learn about the problem and ways to solve it.
Some of them become your customer and build a relationship with you.
Picture these people and you can see that you have potential buyers and customers at every stage of the journey.
You’d like for everyone in this group to move forward.
You work to remove obstacles from their path. You appeal to them to take the next step.
What do you say to buyers at different stages of their journey?
If you were to line all these people up according to where they are on their journey, what would you say to each one?
And which ones would you talk to about your product?
They would have to be far enough along to trust you and have some context for learning about your product. They would be ready to learn more about exactly how you help them solve their problem.
In other words, you talk about your product to people who are immediate prospective customers.
Ok, for all the people who don’t need to learn about your product, what are you going to talk to them about?
Teach them well
That’s where marketing as teaching becomes useful.
If you think of all your buyers at the various stages of their journey as students, you can use teaching to:
- Create a context for what you offer.
- Build trust.
- Move members of your community forward on their journey.
What will you say?
What would you write about? Here are some ideas. Once you get started, feedback from your audience will suggest more topics.
- Business and technical issues that are upstream and downstream from your software
- Tips and tricks from the experts
- Interviews with people in your field
- Implementation and integration issues
- How you fit into the rest of the business
- Answer questions that sales people and customer support staff answer regularly
Most of all, as Chris Moody and Brad Feld have said, market your company through thought leadership, not “look at me:”
Don’t do marketing. Focus on becoming a thought leader in your space. Talk everyday with your customers, prospective customers, partners, and the world about why you do what you do and why you think it is important. The reality is you can only talk about what you do one or two times before people think ‘got it’ and stop listening. But, if you talk about what you believe and point to countless examples that exemplify your beliefs , you can build real engagement with people who care/believe the same things.
Two questions you can ask about articles and blog posts that teach:
First, would this article be relevant even if my current company and its products disappeared from the face of the earth?
And second, would I write this article whether I worked on the customer side, the vendor side or as a consultant?
If you can answer “yes” to both of those questions, then you probably have a topic that is not primarily product-oriented and that your audience will find useful.
Who are some good teachers that I can learn from?
A few venture investors have started writing about what has been an industry clouded in mystery, venture capital investing. Mark Suster, Brad Feld, and Fred Wilson educate entrepreneurs about growing companies and how venture capital investing works.
It’s harder to find people who teach at large companies. One is Scott Brinker, the marketing technologist.
And the many blogs at Google do a lot of teaching. For example, the Google Analytics Blog is primarily product-focused, but the Analytics team has also hired Jason Cutroni and Avinash Kaushik to educate their buyers.
What will teaching do for me and my company?
- The main benefit? You will get better at what you do in marketing and selling. There is nothing like the experience of teaching to others that causes you to truly learn that which you already think you know.
- You develop a body of work that can be used and re-used.
- You become perceived as the expert in the field. Whether people are your customers or not, you are the go-to person or group. You become the reference point.
- You become widely known. You become the person that journalists, blog writers, pundits, consultants come to for quotes and opinions.
- You strengthen your position in your own company.
- You develop a sense of the narrative of your field and your industry.