Customer education pros know the advantages to well-informed customers: more satisfied and empowered customers and support staff that's freed up to concentrate on helping customers who truly need help. Some customer education pros have turned to content marketing strategies in order to increase the customer value in their training programs and dial up the trust customers have in them. They're using them to produce valuable content to promote their training programs.
How to use content marketing to promote training
One of the reasons content marketing works is because of the way it increases trust and confidence. Content that speaks to customers and helps them overcome obstacles increases the trust they have in the content and the company behind it. Each content piece increases that trust and inspires confidence, which ultimately helps your company's bottom line since they'll purchase more from you on an on-going basis.
Using some of the basic ideas behind content marketing, let's translate them for customer education professionals and see how you can use them to promote your training programs.
Remember your customers
This is the first question for both customer education and content marketing pros: Who are you speaking to? The overarching mission for both groups is to become a trusted advisor. Whether it's a webinar explaining how to set up the product, or a helpful report on an industry topic, they're both valuable to the customer.
By using the marketing buyer personas when developing training programs, customer education pros ensure the programs are in sync with the rest of the company's overall marketing messaging. That inspires trust in customers since they can see that the company is working together. The notion of teamwork flows through both the marketing of the training program and the program itself.
Customers come first, not you
Many marketers, never mind content marketers, forget this simple rule: marketing should always be about the customer and how your products help them solve their problems, or overcome obstacles. It's never about how shiny, fast, or sexy you or your product is.
This applies even when you're trying to upsell a customer on an additional package or upgrade. They've bought from you once, so if you continue providing them with valuable content about other obstacles you can help them solve, they'll be sold on those too.
For example, Continuum is a Saas-based managed services company that has developed a network of community resources for managed service providers, what they call the MSP Think Tank. There, they produce a steady flow of useful content, including webinars, videos, interviews, blog posts, and eBooks. Their MSPtv.net website is a treasure trove of information that helps resellers position and troubleshoot their products, allowing Continuum to educate customers in a new, interactive way.
Build Trust and Play on Emotions
Numerous studies have proven that we make choices because of emotion first, and rationality second. Emotions from previous experiences bleed into whatever we're trying to decide on now, regardless if it's a related experience or not. Brian Clark, CEO of Rainmaker Digital and founder of Copyblogger, calls this "belief". He explains that it makes people want to connect with products that are aligned with their beliefs. Emotions lead into belief, which finally leads into the decision-making process.
Content marketers tap into that to build trust with their audience, inspiring belief in them by delivering value in all their marketing pieces. Customer education pros that are able to infuse their training marketing with emotion and align it with customers' beliefs will find more customers gravitating to them and their company.
Collaborate with Colleagues
Many content marketers work with other teams in their organization to mine for new topic ideas, find out what are the latest obstacles customers face, get help designing the latest eBook layout, and more. Customer education pros can do the same and discover new subject areas or content formats to use in their training programs. Working in a silo is never good for anyone, but especially customer education pros, who need to keep a finger on the pulse of the customers. You've got to know what content they're craving, and your colleagues can help you find that out.
Keep It Short & Sweet, But Most of All, Helpful
People's time at work is valuable, so make sure the content you're producing for them is the right length for the content and delivery method. Customers want to come away having felt like they learned something, and not just wasted their time. That goes for both the marketing that draws them to your training program, and the program itself.
Seth Godin, a pop marketing guru, is famous for his short, daily blog posts on whatever marketing topic strikes his fancy. He's been doing it for well over a decade, delivering useful marketing information while talking about everyday life. He demonstrates his value to his audience by explaining marketing strategies he sees around him. In doing so, readers think, "I wonder if Seth's ideas about marketing would work for my own business?". Use these same tactics of short, but helpful information when marketing your training programs and you'll see a difference in the engagement with your customers.
Go Ahead, Steal These Ideas...Please!
You may be sick of the term "content marketing", but the ideas behind it are, well, useful to all marketers and producers of content. Many of those ideas apply to customer education pros too, and the training programs they produce, so why not steal a one? Or more than one? Go ahead, it's okay.