Inbound marketing in all of its various forms is sweeping the internet and the business sector. This methodology of driving website traffic with SEO and high quality web content in order to acquire and nurture new leads is spreading. Inbound marketing is not really being used as an educational tool, but one of major functions is essentially brokering free educational materials to obtain new leads. Now what if we designed these materials from an educator’s point of view instead of a marketer’s?
At first glance this blog entry might appear a bit more philosophical than my usual posts; but I promise that the end result is both clear cut and practical.
Marketing or Teaching?
I don’t know of anyone else in the field that is really looking at the whitepapers, eBooks, and webinars created as a function of inbound marketing from an educational perspective. Everyone is looking at them with the eyes of a marketer, trying to create the most effective internet marketing materials possible. Why do people hand over their contact information to get these resources though? It’s not for entertainment, it’s to learn. Why would anyone attend a webinar titled “Key Steps to Build a Better Social Media Strategy,” except to learn about building a social media strategy? These are really simple marketing concepts.
Inbound marketing is a newer internet marketing system that is all about getting leads, or so the experts say. But actually it’s more about offering highly desirable digital teaching materials in order to get leads. What if we treated these distance education materials like real educational tools instead of marketing tools? I’m not saying we make them read like a text book but we consider teaching and educational theory as we design them. Sure they still need to be smooth and simple reads, but if we can do a better job of educating the reader then we’re changing the game.
The Learning Experience
First of all, if I’m looking at your whitepaper then I’ve already given you my contact info. I’m in your system and your lead nurturing campaign. You’ve already won the first battle. Let’s say the whitepaper is a fun and engaging read with a few useful nuggets. It was free, so I’m happy. But what if the paper is eye opening and rich with high level concepts that are made easy to understand and remember? What if I put the resource down and have an “aha” moment? What if I’ve already read half-a-dozen whitepapers on the subject from other companies but yours is the only one with real substance?
Creating that kind of experience is what wins people, it’s what creates advocates and converts leads into sales. It’s like when you have your first “aha” moment with the person who becomes your favorite teacher. A connection is made and the student says “Wow, this person really knows their stuff.” There is instant credibility, rapport, and respect. Maybe I have a unique perspective since I’m inbound marketing certified and have a doctorate in instructional technology. But maybe making a big impression on a lead also makes good marketing sense too.
At the end of the day it might take a little more time to design resources that function as powerfully engaging educational tools. But will potential leads be more likely to fall in love with your organization because the free whitepaper you gave them took you a whole 35 minutes to write?