There is a misconception in service businesses that your marketing's most important function is to promote what you do, or in other words, your services. But the fact is, the most important function of your marketing should be to establish that you are knowledgeable, capable and can be trusted.
Most people don't do business with people they don't trust, especially when it comes to buying services. When they buy your services they are, in fact, buying the talents, skills, and personalities of YOU or your team of professionals.
Even if you have the lowest prices, if your prospect doesn't trust you, it will be difficult to close the sale. This is the basis for Education-Based Marketing.
Education-Based Marketing is a powerful marketing strategy that establishes trust and credibility using educational messages. It is the direct opposite of traditional marketing, which uses selling-based messages.
People are tired of hearing worn-out, old sales pitches. Barriers shoot up the moment you begin delivering a sales pitch. In contrast, people sit up and listen when you share important facts and expert information that help them make a good buying decision.
Determining Your Educational Message
Imagine stepping into the mind of your prospect and listening to their mental conversation at the very moment they decide to begin shopping for your services. What questions are they asking themselves? The secret to attracting qualified prospects early in the sales cycle is to find out the answers to those questions and use them as the basis for your educational marketing message.
For instance, suppose you are a marketing consultant. Perhaps your prospects are asking themselves, "How can I market my business at the least cost?" or "Why are my marketing efforts not succeeding?"
Now that you know what your prospect's questions are, now you can craft a marketing message that answers those questions. In the process of answering those questions you'll be building a relationship of trust with your prospect.
How To Package Your Educational Marketing Message to Generate Qualified Prospects
Once you have developed your educational message you need to package it and offer it for free in exchange for your prospect's contact information. This is critical. Effective marketing is not just a matter of getting the word out but more importantly, getting a response back.
You can package your educational message in a format your prospect will respond to such as a written special report, an audiocassette, a video tape, an email course, a CD-ROM, a seminar, or even a toll-free phone message.
How To Deliver Your Educational Marketing Message
Now that you have developed and packaged your education message, you should develop strategies and processes to give it away. To do this you must first identify all the "customer touch points" in your business and offer your educational message at each one of those touch points. Common customer touch points are your business phone, website, advertising, publicity, networking conversations, public speaking events, etc.
For instance, instead of ending your business phone conversations like this, "Well John, thanks so much for calling and if you ever need my services just let me know." End your phone conversation with an offer like this, "Well John, thanks so much for calling. By the way, I've just developed a great special report that talks about the top 10 common mistakes that people make when doing their taxes. If you'll give me your address I'll send it to you free of charge. Would that be okay?"
You've just accomplished three very important things with this telephone strategy, (1) you've generated goodwill by offering a valuable free gift, (2) you got your prospect's contact information so that you can continue to market to him, and (3) you now have a reason for a follow up phone call after he receives and has read the special report.
Resist the Urge to Give a Sales Pitch
It's easy to set your services business apart using Education-Based Marketing because most of your competitors are using selling-based marketing. The beauty of Education-Based Marketing is that you give prospective clients what they want, information and advice -- and remove what they don't want, a sales pitch.
By offering helpful advice, you establish yourself as an authority because prospects see you as a reliable source of information. Be careful not to give in to the urge to include a sales pitch with your educational message. This will only erode the trust you have established and make you the same as your competitors in the eyes of your prospect.
Instead, after you have provided some helpful information you should warmly invite your prospects to call you, visit your website, come to your office, or take advantage of your free offer for a coaching session or consultation.
Education-Based Marketing captures prospects earlier in the decision process and establishes a relationship of trust, resulting in dramatically higher sales and closing ratios. Those service businesses that seek to develop a relationship of trust by delivering a non-threatening educational message will position themselves as their prospect's first choice from which to buy your product or service.
David Frey is the Author of the Small Business Marketing Bible and the Senior Editor of the Small Business Marketing Best Practices Newsletter. To get your free lifetime subscription simply send a blank email to subscribe@MarketingBestPractices.com or visit http://www.MarketingBestPractices.com.
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