Marketing Foundations: Educational Marketing

Selling to businesses generally means longer sales cycles. Prospective clients will need to walk through multiple approvals in their own companies before agreeing to purchase, so it’s important that you, as the seller, build multiple relationships within the prospective company. This is a significant challenge. Educating potential clients is one of the most effective methods for building interest in your company and gaining their trust. Educating Prospects through Whitepapers and Webinars Among the best tools for educating potential clients are whitepapers and webinars. These fact-based products present a clear business problem and an accompanying solution. Moreover, they describe the consequences businesses will face if the problem is not resolved. Neither are sales presentations; they don’t present exaggerated claims, and normally conclude with a call to action asking users to learn more by subscribing to your company’s mailing list. Typically, potential clients will need to provide a certain level of business information to receive the whitepaper or to join the webinar. Both provide your company with valuable marketing information. Webinars offer the additional value of permitting the host company to receive immediate feedback to the ideas presented as listeners engage in question and answer sessions or discussions about the event. Marketing the Problem Of course, the success of your whitepapers and webinars depend upon attracting people to them. There are many venues for promoting your materials to executives looking for solutions to the problems that you define. Interested parties will look for solutions via search engines, trade journal articles, social media postings, conference advertisements. Also, discussion boards are a prime place to identify potential users of your whitepapers and webinars. Delivering the Education Whether using webinars or a whitepapers, it is important to provide sober, factual analysis. The education should aid the relationship building process, not circumvent it. It is unlikely that a sale will be made as a result of reading one document or taking part in one webinar presentation. But it is very likely that future sales conversations will be started because others see your company as having the necessary expertise to solve industry problems. Establishing the Value of Management B2B companies will typically find that their products and services will encounter competitors that are able to offer the same or similar elements. However, presentations conducted by knowledgeable staff and executives demonstrate a company’s wherewithal to utilize those elements to provide true solutions. A prospect that values a company’s problem solving ability as opposed to the features of its service may be more comfortable with premium compensation for what they perceive to be superior value. For example, the Adobe Corporation makes whitepapers available on their website for those companies struggling with the intricacies of accessibility with their premium level software tools. Their progressive thinking in this area demonstrates their willingness to think ahead about the potential implementation problems a company might have. For those companies dealing with the specific problem of accessibility, these resources can potentially set Adobe apart from competitors who choose not to expend additional resources in this way. Providing Value To Existing Customers through Education Companies can use education to keep their clients aware of trends, industry problems and cutting edge solutions as a value added service. Customers who receive complementary training tend to understand the value of their purchase and are less likely to upgrade by purchasing from competitors. It also solidifies a company’s position in the marketplace as the expert and leader in the industry. For example, SAP and Intel use what they call technology briefs to give executives an understanding of a technical subject to help them to make decisions about commonly faced problem areas. Education can be a valuable tool in the marketing process when it is utilized to help B2B companies strengthen the sales relationship. Because their content provides real solutions and is offered free of charge, companies can attract action oriented prospects into their marketing funnel. Moreover, when education is used even after the sale to a company’s database, it can establish more value by solidifying its position as expert in the industry.