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Marketing can mean different things to different people, and how someone defines it often has a lot to do with their personal and professional experience. Those of us who have made our careers in marketing have a unique perspective, but even as professionals, each of us looks at work differently.
As you probably already know, marketing, broadly speaking, is the means by which a person or company sells a product or service. Marketing can be subtle or bold, soft or pushy, but ultimately the goal is always to make a connection and ultimately a sale. As a marketing professional, my personal approach has always been focused on educating the customer, and it has worked for me and my clients. Even when I was in corporate marketing, I tried to educate rather than use sales pressure.
Related: Your startup’s most important investment is customer education
I find this approach works best for what I do because it tends to attract high-quality clients who are looking for longer-term relationships rather than just a single deal. However, this may not be the right strategy for every product or service. However, now that I am a business owner, my basic approach to marketing has not changed and I only want to work with clients – in my case dentists – who understand and appreciate how educating their patients (clients) can help them to grow their businesses meaningfully and sustainably.
An education-first approach
All of our marketing takes an “education first” approach. It is not a problem for us to give our knowledge because we offer almost exclusively to dentists. Giving them information actually encourages them to be more engaged in their marketing, and that benefits both them and us. This type of approach helps us build rapport and trust with prospective clients. It also demonstrates our authority in the field, giving us credibility among the dental community.
We explain to our customers in an easy to understand way exactly what we do, how we do it and why. Our clients value knowing these details because they are entrepreneurs themselves and especially in the field of dentistry, they also believe that education is an essential tool to attract and retain clients (or rather patients). An educational approach to marketing works well in dentistry, but it is also very effective in many other marketing scenarios.
I have written two books that highlight my approach to marketing. Each book took more than six months to write, and both generated quite a bit of interest in my company. My books not only discuss marketing education, but also demonstrate the expertise and knowledge within the company, our philosophy and our values. When someone reads one of my books, it will either resonate with them or it won’t. When they do, we know they are the type of customer who will find success with us.
Related: How to Get More Clients Without Being Pushy
Giving away your secrets
As part of my mission to educate, I make a lot of knowledge available to the general public – most of it for free. My business partner and I speak at seminars and give live presentations to groups of dentists in the context of conventions and other events. We send weekly emails, write articles and blog posts, record podcasts and make videos that are designed to educate dental practices on how they can get more out of their marketing. I’m basically giving away all my secrets as a marketer, but I’m not worried that people listening, watching and reading will use what I’ve told them without hiring my company. If they do and are successful, then more power to them.
The clients I’m really looking for are those who see the value in hiring us, because we have all this knowledge to share. These clients understand that outsourcing marketing to an expert is the best use of their time and money. These are the customers who value education and are often already on a similar path, but need to expand or update their marketing efforts. These are the customers who are engaged and open to new ideas. Those are the customers we want because those are the customers who stay.
I believe that when all is said and done, if the product or company is right, an education-first approach can benefit more companies and take their marketing to the next level. Don’t let the fear that someone will take your ideas and use them stop you from educating your target audience. Maintain an abundance mindset and realize that not every customer is a good fit. Those who are will resonate with the information you share.