I have a friend that owns a landscaping business. He has a degree in horticulture and knows everything there is to know about the landscaping process. However, his employees do not. For example, when it comes to the basics of how to properly prepare and build a large reinforced retaining wall, my friend has to spend countless hours educating his employees on the process of how to prepare and build the structure.
This is a great opportunity for a company to deliver content that can provide general education and genuinely integrate the brand into the material.
Hypothesis: Providing customers with foundational education increases brand loyalty, favorability and revenue.
Educational content can be a great lead-in for offerings like training services, products, and support. As you build content and demonstrate how your products and services are used in the process, building the linkages to your informational product / service pages is critical. Make sure the audience can click over to the products or services being referenced.
This is soft selling. The customer trusts you because you are not trying to shove anything down their throat. You are just trying to be helpful. If it makes sense and the time is right where they need the related product / service you are showcasing… great! It’s a win-win.
Examples of freely accessible educational materials are not too hard to find. Some brands are in the process of transitioning their pay-to-access educational content to free and open models becase of the intuitive downstream value (not to mention the overhead required to maintain non-core business training programs). Adobe and Apple both have great examples of free educational offerings. These are established as strategic offerings to help their customers become more proficient while becoming brand advocates with their new found skills.
While it is a simple idea to begin creating and exposing educational content, you do not want to do this blindly. Enter this process fully expecting to test and study the results. This is a great opportunity to integrate CRM processes so you can understand what customers are accessing the educational material. You ultimately want to track the long term impact on revenue. Ideally, you would A/B test to watch revenue trends for a set of customers not accessing your educational content and the set that are. I am optimistic that the impact will be recognizable.
Feel free to reach out if you have have seen results with this approach.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/john-schilling/