“We don’t sell – we educate our customers.” You’ve probably heard this before.
For some businesses, educating prospects and customers is a primary form of branding, lead generation and business development. You see this in the form of user conferences, webinars, white papers, blogs and other educational marketing outreaches.
With today’s learning and social media technologies, there are new ways to educate prospects and customers and, at the same time, achieve sales and marketing objectives. These methods can help you get closer to customers and differentiate you from the competition.
Let’s look at some of the newer tactics:
Customer Education Videos
On the web, customers and prospects are often looking to learn. To build a deeper relationship with their customers, FedEx uses video to teach best practices when it comes to shipping. On their official YouTube channel, you can learn packaging tips from a packaging engineer or how to efficiently ship internationally by watching a mock infomercial with Fred Willard.
RoomMates is an example of a small company using customer education videos. They have videos on their website and YouTube channel that show how to properly install their peel-and-stick wall decorations.
On-Demand e-Learning Courses
In some industries, companies use e-Learning to help customers earn continuing education credits or gain other valuable knowledge to help them with career development. You see this in health care where hospitals and pharmaceutical companies provide on-demand e-Learning courses to doctors and others in order to build and develop relationships. Outside of health care, I recently read that DuPont is now offering an e-Learning Series on energy efficiency designed to provide facilities around the world with specific practices to help improve energy efficiency and profitability.
Customer Learning Communities
Building relationships with prospects and customers is also the objective of companies setting up learning communities. One of the most popular sites is American Express’ Open Forum. Open Forum provides access to an amazing amount of knowledge for small businesses. It includes blog posts from leading writers like Guy Kawasaki and Norm Brodsky, videos featuring the likes of Seth Godin and the ability for users to network and discuss the content. Within the sponsored community and in the context of independent content, you’re just a click away from learning more about American Express products, services and innovations.
Educating resellers, certified users and decision-makers has always been embedded in the Cisco business model. Building a community of educated followers has helped Cisco grow its brand beyond just networking technology. Targeting IT savvy learners, the Cisco Learning Network features wikis, games, simulations and other resources. While participating in immersive learning experiences, users interact with Cisco staff and other users and start to view the technology world as a Cisco world.
There are many other great examples of organizations using video, on-demand e-Learning courses and learning communities for the purpose of branding, relationship-building and lead generation. It is a growing business development approach that brings together marketing and learning technologies in exciting ways.
Before writing my next post, I’d like to hear about your experiences. As a marketer or learning solutions provider, have you implemented innovative ways to educate your customers? What results have you seen? How about as a learner? Have you experienced innovative customer learning? How did it influence your purchasing decision, your impression of a brand or your use of a company’s product or service? I look forward to hearing about your experiences.