Education-based marketing is a critical component of any marketing strategy and, as a marketer, that often means producing various forms of content, from ‘how-to’ blog posts, to white papers and eBooks on specific problems buyers should be aware of before they make a purchasing decision.
And for salespeople, educational content helps reinforce conversations held over the phone about why your solution is the best option, and what potential customers can expect to gain when they commit to a relationship with your brand.
While the need for educational-based marketing content is clear, marketers often struggle to produce truly valuable material. Sometimes the best-laid plans result in watered-down versions of content without context, or ‘me too’ material with very little real-world value.
So how do you ensure that your educational content is high-quality and effective?
A simple four-step educational-based marketing framework
Educational content must solve a set of very specific requirements to be effective. Those requirements are that it:
- identifies a problem that your audience faces,
- clearly defines the problem(s),
- provides a relevant solution(s), and
- clearly defines the solution(s).
This four-step framework will help you produce strong and effective educational-based marketing content.
If you’ve found your educational content to be ineffective or just missing that ‘special something’, here’s how to go about approaching each step to help elevate it and assist your brand in becoming a valuable resource for your buyers along their journey.
Step one: identify the problem
Your new piece of content must serve a very specific purpose. It needs to highlight a very specific problem or set of problems your audience should be aware of before they can proceed along the buyer’s journey.
When identifying your audience’s problem, be sure to set the scene. You can do this by stating statistics or telling a short story. Whichever way you choose, ensure that you clearly state the problem so it’s easily understood.
PRO TIP: Effective writers always tie the problem to an emotion (either explicitly or implicitly), because their readers are people first and buyers second.
Step two: define the problem
Once you’ve clearly identified the problem, you need to start explaining how the problem affects your reader, and what the consequences of not dealing with the problem are.
This is the perfect time to reference relevant statistics to drive the impact of the problem going unsolved, but be tactful with your approach. Lean too hard on the FUD button, and you could leave your reader with a bad taste in their mouth. On the other hand, if you don’t relate the consequences effectively enough, you could end up missing your opportunity to drive the message home.
How do you strike the right balance? Give one example or reference for each consequence. This approach will help your reader begin to understand and appreciate the rhythm of your content. If your readers appreciate the message, they’re more likely to trust it, positioning your brand as a thought leader in their minds.
Step three: identify the solution
Introducing your solution is where the magic begins to happen for your reader. By now, they have a clear understanding of what the problem is and how serious the consequences of not solving it are. They are now primed for your solution.
When introducing your solution, your goal is to paint another picture. This time, it’s all about how the solution alleviates the pain caused by the problem and its consequences. Remember, you’re only introducing the problem here, so any information provided about the solution should be limited to results.
PRO TIP: Sharing statistics and quotes from customers about results they’ve experienced works particularly well at this stage in the education phase.
Step four: define the solution
We’re in the final stretch of delivering a valuable piece of educational content. In step four, your objective is to tie the value of the solution back to each problem highlighted in step two.
It’s important to address every problem mentioned and clearly explain how your solution relates to them so your buyer develops a clear line of sight. Clear line of sight is essential to the buyer’s journey, as without it, your buyer is left with a good understanding of the problem and its consequences, but no way to solve it. And, if you cannot provide a logical solution, your prospective buyer will turn to other sources of information for help.
Using statistics and quotes is recommended at this step, especially if they are relatable for the reader. Be sure that all statistics you use offer the right context to drive the value of your solution home.
Three important tips to bear in mind as you plan and create your content:
- Understand what core issues your buyer needs to address when they read the educational-marketing content.
- Give examples that are relatable to your buyers as this makes your messaging relevant to them.
- Use simple language to make the message as clear and understandable as possible.
Creating effective educational-marketing content helps position your brand as a thought leader and resource for buyers. By clearly identifying your buyer’s problem, defining it, introducing the solution and providing an easy-to-understand explanation of its value, you’ll be able to provide true value to your audience.