Educational marketing: Get people to care

Educational marketing: Get people to care

When is educational marketing important? Let’s say you’ve been tasked with marketing a product/service people don’t care about. You find that getting people engaged is almost impossible because they just don’t understand how this product/service relates to them.

Now watch this video:

Topics covered in this post:

  1. Educational marketing: Teaching an old dog new tricks 
  2. 3 smart ways to get your audience to care about your offering
  3. The non-profit marketing conundrum

Educational marketing: Teaching an old dog new tricks

Generally speaking, we’re not in the business of  education – we market products to the people that would gain value from using them. However, in some cases, for instance – when the product is so innovative that the people we would love to market to wouldn’t even know they need it, we, the marketers, become teachers.

It would have been easier to create an enticing ad, lead to a landing page with a sign up form which will lead into the product and that would be it. With effective audience targeting and optimization, we would get the users we want onboard. A simple: “you have problem X”, “We have solution Y, you should try it, it’s perfect for solving problem X” “Look at all these nice testimonials of people just like you who tried it and loved it”, “Here’s where you sign up”. Done.

Not all products are that simple to market. Sometimes the audience needs some grooming before they can commit to a solution, sometimes they need us to first introduce them to the problem they never new they had. This is done through content marketing, and more specifically – through educational marketing (*with the growing amount of solutions for every problem, the days that this simple funnel works are likely numbered for any product so even when marketing a straight-forward product you’d probably benefit from a shift to a more complex educational marketing strategy).

Basically, we marketers have the daunting task of guiding people through many more pre-purchase stages. We now have to bring awareness to a problem/issue people might not know they have, lead them safely through the process of coming to terms with the fact that they need a solution, get them ready to look for one and provide information and then make sure they remember us and check out our offering so we can finally close the deal.

3 smart ways to get your audience to care about your offering

To effectively lead users though the education funnel to purchase we need to keep them engaged throughout the process. The triggers that we need to touch on with our educational marketing efforts are not much different than the ones we use in direct response user acquisition – we need to develop messages that feel personal, are relatable and elicit emotions.

  • Personal – surely the problem your product or service solves is not the only thing that makes your target audience unique and it should definitely not be the only thing you speak about when you’re talking with them. Build out personas for the different audiences you want to market to and relate to each through the personal characteristics you identify
  • Relatable – the content you produce has to be relatable. Defining the personas will help you produce content that speaks about things relevant to your target audience. But that’s not enough, not just the content, but the company itself, has to be relatable. Speak as a friend rather than an instructor and share personal information about yourself and the company so people will find it easier to connect with you and your company values
  • Elicit emotions – Producing perfectly logical content might sound like a perfectly logical strategy but it isn’t. While it is true that you’re trying to teach something through your educational marketing efforts, and the textbooks you remember from school were never “emotional”, a. why would you want to teach like a textbooks? b. your goal is not to teach, it’s to sell, and for that, eliciting emotions is much more effective than logics. Make sure to touch on emotions like happiness, sadness, fear and others to get your message across. The emotional aspects of the content are the ones people will remember most.

The non-profit marketing conundrum

How does the video from the top of the post relate to educational marketing?

It’s a specific case that has to do with non-profit marketing. This is especially difficult to do because in this case as a marketer you have to consider something that you usually don’t have to do when marketing for a regular business. To understand how to market effectively you have to think – why would people care about my cause?

When marketing a B2C product or service your target audience is the person benefiting from the product/service so it’s pretty easy to understand why they would care about your business.

When marketing for B2B, either your target audience or your customer’s customers will be benefiting from your product/service. Again, pretty easy to see why they would care.

With causes, usually the people benefiting from your efforts are not the ones you’re targeting.

So why would people care? That is the non-profit marketing conundrum and while it is harder to do, it too is solved by using the 3 ways I mentioned above. The video at the beginning of the post used them perfectly to get its message across. It is personal, relatable and elicits emotions. Let’s discuss:

First, it’s target audience is clearly 80’s, early 90’s kids that immediately relate to the Super Mario game depicted and know the flow of the game by heart. Anyone who played Super Mario knows that YOU play Mario. He represents you, and by depicting him as the injured party in the video, they made it personal and at the same time elicited the emotion of fear. This could happen to you. Lastly, and obviously, they also touched on the emotion of happiness that is inherently connected to playing games like this. To sum up, this video is almost perfect. It immediately grabs the attention of the right people, keeps them engaged until them end and makes them want to do more. If it only ended with a call to action other than awareness (donations, signature collection for change in legislation, etc.), it would have been perfect. Educational marketing at it’s best.

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