Many traditional marketing strategies involve approaching prospective clients with information about your services through advertising, promotions, public relations and mail marketing, to name a few. All of these are credible, reliable tools. But you can also engage your clients in a way that is active, nonintrusive and can lead to loyal, well-informed clients—education.
A very effective way to market your business is by taking the time to educate your clients and prospective clients about the benefits of your services, without actually asking them for a sale. What you do instead is lead them to the brink of a purchase and let them make the leap on their own.
Today, people are getting less and less responsive to the traditional hard sell. According to Yankelovich Partners Inc., a consulting firm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, consumers started to reach a marketing saturation point as early as 2004. One study the firm conducted indicated that 65 percent of respondents feel constantly bombarded with too many marketing messages, and 61 percent feel the volume is out of control. This weariness surrounding marketing continues to grow.
Consumers, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, often reject traditional sales pitches and lean toward a more open communication with companies—including online forums, consumer rating services, webinars, blogs and videos. They turn to these vehicles because they want relatively unbiased information, as well as collaborative ways to educate themselves on the products and services they consider purchasing.
Let me give you an example. In my area, there is a successful lawyer who takes a great deal of his time to go around and lecture seniors on the hazards of fraud. He gives these lectures as a public service, and many organizations feel very fortunate to get him to come and address their groups. In the process of explaining situations where seniors can fall victim to illegal actions, he constructs an important marketing formula. First, make an audience aware of a problem and then offer them a solution for that problem involving your product or services.
By doing these talks, this lawyer is able to walk potential clients through three of the four universal elements of the sales process—awareness, comprehension, conviction and, finally, the sale. He starts by making the seniors aware of various schemes aimed at the elderly. Then he goes on to explain how the schemes work (comprehension). Finally, he talks about ways they can protect themselves using the legal system and knowledgeable lawyers (conviction).
What allows this presentation to be an educational element is that he never asks for a sale, the last stage of the sale process. The prospect is merely primed to reach the decision to purchase on their own . The absence of overt soliciting makes consumers feel as if they’ve received something of value (education) for free. In turn, this feeling triggers the natural impulse to reciprocate by using the services of the presenter.
Education of this type can be a very effective form of marketing. You can present information in a way that overcomes the growing resistance to sales messages, and allows you to build a trusting relationship with the audience. Education is an incredibly effective way to communicate, and communication is a conduit to persuasion.
Where to Go
Adult education at local high schools, company health fairs and health provider forums are great opportunities to lecture on health and fitness. Additionally, you might try putting together a short health program at clubs, community centers, senior centers and the like. If you are shy about speaking to an audience, put together a PowerPoint presentation. Make sure you end all presentations with a hand out that includes your contact information prominently positioned. In the case of a PowerPoint presentation, your name and contact information should be a header on every page.
Today, you can also conduct what I call virtual classes by distributing information online. You can send out informational e-newsletters or alerts. Or you can set up your own blog; there are a variety of user-friendly blog hosting services. You can even be creative and construct a YouTube video that puts yourself—and your knowledge— out there.
It is also relativity easy to sign up for web alerts to keep you educated and informed. You can sign up for search engines to alert you when new information comes online that contains certain “key words” which you register with them. Words like massage therapy, bodywork, and therapeutic massage are quick examples. Search engine alerts put the power of an entire network to work searching for these words and the news you are interested in. Two favorites are google.com/alerts and alerts.yahoo.com.
Today consumers need compelling reasons to buy. Some economists suggest that even when our economy recovers, consumers may not embrace the marketplace as robustly as they did in the past. With a new emphasis on frugality, buyers are beginning to approach purchases with a loss of engagement in and enthusiasm for the entire act of consuming.
The Darwinian Gale: The Recovery Consumer Marketplace in the Era of Consequences, is a white paper from The Futures Company, a research consultant company that tracks trends and future research. They claim we must … “Beware thinking that things will bounce back to business as usual. A fundamental value shift is underway. The era of consequences will be guided by responsibility, vigilance and resourcefulness. Spending will be shaped by prioritization and networks.”
Framing your services within the context of education can be an effective way to create a place for your business in this new marketing environment where traditional selling isn’t as effective and consumers are more skeptical. Tap into their desire to feel as if they’ve researched and discovered credible information and knowledgeable resources; inspire in them a sense of having been involved, of having learned something. The marketplace is evolving and presenting your services within a framework of education can help you evolve with it.