There are two types of businesses in this world.
The first commands premium prices and has loyal customers who stay with them for life.
Constantly find themselves competing on price. Their prospects see them as a commodity and look for the cheapest supplier. The business finds itself in a race to the bottom as profit margins are almost non-existent.
If this is you, there is a solution.
One where you will never have prospects try and compare you with your competition. Where they’ll appreciate your value and happily pay your price. And refer their friends to you.
How? It all comes down to education.
All marketing is based on educating and communicating your value to your ideal client.
Great marketing highlights an issue your prospects are experiencing, then shows them how to solve it. The education you provide sets the buying criteria in your prospects’ minds.
Setting the buying criteria means you control the agenda. i.e. what’s important. You educate your prospects as to what they should be looking for in a solution (obviously what you provide), how they will know they’ve received quality (which you define) and what makes you unique.
Let me explain via a couple of examples.
A new client of ours builds homes. Not just any homes. They compete in the luxury $5M to $20M range, which even for Sydney is the top 1% of home construction.
Suffice to say they aren’t the cheapest builders in town. They do high quality work. They have high overheads and a very complex operation and build process.
But they often face one man band competitors who might undercut them by $700K to $1M.
A prospect who doesn’t understand the value our client brings to the table has only one criteria to judge on. The price.
Educating prospects as to why they should build with our clients by explaining the reasons to go with a professional operation which has successfully built homes like these over the last 25 years.
We’ll do this by creating a white paper which sets out the buying criteria in a way that makes the 1 man band a non-competitor. We would define the criteria by which a prospect would judge the final outcome and explain how they would know quality builds when they experience it.
We’d talk about what happens after the build. Our client is here to stay. Should there be an issue, they’ll come back and fix it. Something that can’t be said for many small builders who simply shut up shop and move on leaving clients in the lurch.
Another client very successfully uses regular seminars to educate their prospects.
An investment property buying agency, they run a “Buyer’s Club” every fortnight where they provide massive educational value in every aspect of investing. They cover topics from how to select properties, how to renovate to immediately get better rent, how to select property managers, taxation issues… the list goes on.
The seminars cost $10 to attend. They pack out the room.
We taught them how to structure their presentation to both educate their members (which adds massive ongoing value to members wanting to learn about the do’s and don’ts of investing) and showcase a list of properties members could buy.
By continuously educating prospects as to the value they bring to the table, two things happen.
Their price for finding and negotiating a property deal went from $3,300 in 2010 up to the current $9,900 with minimal buyer pushback. (Raising prices is one of the key mindset components we work on with our clients – we’ve written extensively about this in other articles)
And they have a steady stream of new and repeat business.
Educating your prospects has two more major benefits.
First, you communicate your advantages in the context of education, not selling.
We have a rule in selling. Never directly disparage the competition. Even though the criticism could be relevant and valid, denigrating your competitors in a sales conversation is likely to come across as self-serving and make your prospect feel uncomfortable.
Educating your prospects before you meet allows you to get your message across in a disassociated way. In effect, it’s your document or seminar stating the advantages, not you. It’s a subtle, but important point.
And second, you build trust by providing education without any strings attached.
By educating your prospects you demonstrate you care about them and their outcomes, rather than on you making a quick sale.
By following a regime of providing consistent, valuable education, you also elevate yourself into the position of trusted advisor. The authority figure in your niche. Over time prospects will gravitate towards you.
Realise education doesn’t happen overnight.
Nobody buying a complex, high dollar value product or service decides overnight. People want to get to know you, feel you deliver value and can do what you promise.
This may take days, weeks, months or even years.
Many of our highest value clients have been on our newsletter list for months or years before they make a decision to go ahead.
When they do become clients, without fail they say two things. One is the tremendous educational value we’ve provided and our consistency in doing so.
And finally, it doesn’t matter whether you’re selling B2B or B2C.
People buy because they have a problem. It might start as a tiny nagging thought, which grows over time. They may then look for more information regarding the issue and others who might be experiencing it. Only then will they want to learn about possible solutions and a cure.
Your job is to educate them along the way, set the buying criteria, build trust and become the authority figure so you become the only game in town when they’re ready to buy. You will command premium prices and have loyal customers who stay with you for life.