If you had to describe marketing in just one word, that one word would be EDUCATION.
Businesses must continually EDUCATE themselves about the needs and wants of their prospects, and in turn must EDUCATE prospects about why they are uniquely capable of providing for those needs and wants.
However, rather than educating, businesses are inclined to communicate by “playing their home movie”. There’s a big problem with telling prospects what you want them to hear – it isn’t what they want. Potential customers are jaded by the self serving and unsubstantiated claims made by most businesses.
So what do prospects really want?
ALL PROSPECTS WANT THE SAME THING: They want to be certain they’ve made the best possible purchase decision based on overall value, and want to be confident their money has been well spent. They don’t want to suffer from Buyer’s Remorse – the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you suspect you’ve made a poor decision.
When making buying decisions, your prospective customers want to be as informed as possible. They’re looking for DECISION FACILITATING INFORMATION so they know HOW to make an informed decision.
Decision facilitating information isn’t about your business, but about the factors or attributes that must be considered to make the best possible choice.
This is why educating your prospect is a critical element of a well thought out Marketing and Sales process. The first job of the Marketing and Sales process is to generate leads, but once the lead is generated, you must be willing and able to provide decision facilitating information.
This information must be provided while the prospect is in the investigation phase of the buying process, which is the time between their initial interest and when they’re ready to make the purchasing decision – or when they become “Now Buyers”.
The most effective way to increase your close rate and shorten sales cycles is to educate during the investigation phase. In so doing, prospects will look upon you favourably when they become Now Buyers.
If you lose to a competitor and believe it’s because the “prospect just doesn’t get it”, who’s fault is it? You are in control of what you communicate to your target market – if the prospect doesn’t get it, then it’s clearly your fault.
Prospects are constantly seeking this decision facilitating information, and it’s incumbent upon you as a business to provide it.
If you don’t, your competitors might – and none of us want our competitors educating our target market about how to make a buying decision. If we allow this to happen, you can rest assured you will lose market share to that competitor.
The more likely scenario is that your competitors are not providing this information. Businesses are so busy playing their home movie that they neglect what’s most important – educating prospects so they feel in control and are able to make an informed decision that best meets their requirements.
The assumption of course is that it’s in your best interests to have an educated prospect. This requires that you build a business that delivers unique or superior value.
If this isn’t the case, and you compete strictly on price, then you’ll want to keep your target market in the dark so they’re not able to recognize an inferior product or service – which is what low cost providers typically deliver.
We’re often asked if it’s a good idea to educate because of concerns about the “competiton finding out” or “we may not get the sale even if we do”.
Our response is that it’s a risk worth taking.
Competitors are so immersed in what they do, and caught up in their own rhetoric, they will likely ignore this information. We shouldn’t allow our competitors to dictate how we do business. If providing decision facilitating information is the right thing to do, then we should just do it.
Admittedly, even if we do a good job of educating, we still won’t win them all – but our probability of success will be much higher.
Remember, marketing is about EDUCATION. Those who are committed to doing it best will ultimately win the customer more often.
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