Make Teaching Your #1 Goal

So I’ve been in the market for a used travel trailer. Nothing fancy, just something small that I can tow with my mid-sized SUV. I started out looking at vintage trailers on craigslist, thinking that’s my best option because they look cool and most of them are inexpensive. After months of searching, I finally found one that seemed particularly promising. What do I do next? I call my dad, the guy who’s owned more types of campers than anyone else I know, and in 15 minutes he’s completely changed my mind. He’s got me looking at pop-ups and hybrids, only trailers that are somewhat modern and in pristine condition.

But how did I make such a sudden switch? After all, I had been researching for months, trying to figure out what my best option was. Now I’m immediately going in a completely different direction. I changed my mind because I trust my dad, not so much because he’s owned a lot of campers, but because he’s taught me what he knows, and he’s proven himself as a credible source.

We want our customers to understand what they’re getting. They should know the reasons why they’ve come to us instead of a competitor, because those are the things that make us better than the rest. They should also have an understanding of their other opportunities to fulfill their needs, and we should be the first to introduce them to those opportunities. Why? Because if they don’t find them through you, they’ll find them through another source. Don’t you want to be able to form the way they perceive alternative solutions?

I touched on this in my post New Marketing, but I want to really explain it here. We’re not isolated from the true marketplace of any industry anymore. We know that every solution to our needs is out there and we will find the best one if we search hard enough. Old Business would rather keep us in the dark about other options and win us over with a mixture of obvious features and urgent discounts, but that doesn’t work anymore. What does work? Honest explanations of our options from a professional who knows what he or she is talking about.

We’re familiar with the classic salesmen who seems to only see the good in the product they’re peddling. We know that if we did buy those products, it would only be because we saw the value ourselves despite the way it was presented to us. Regardless of whether or not we buy, though, that sets the relationship off on the wrong foot. We shouldn’t feel “won over” by a salesperson, we should feel like we’ve been done a favor. We should feel grateful that our needs were expertly identified by a knowledgeable person and we now have a great solution to our problems.

What if we stopped simply pushing the features of our products, and started informing people about their best options based on what we’ve learned about their needs? What if we stopped trying to force our product on people that don’t need it and started taking an interest in what their needs actually are? At the very worst, we’d tell them they need something that we don’t offer, and even that would have a truly more positive effect.

This is about more than the technique of a salesperson, though. The teaching mindset should be the mark of your entire brand. The identity of your business should ooze honesty and helpfulness, to the point that people don’t come to you for your product, they come to you for your opinion. They come to you because you’ve proven yourself as an authority in your industry. You can do this by carefully considering the tone of everything you say to the public with your brand. Does it sound like you’re trying to trick people, or does it sound like you want people to understand the opportunities they have?

People won’t be drawn to your brand just because you’ve been in business for 25 years. They will be drawn to your brand because you’ve taken the time to teach them about your industry. You’ve proven yourself as a credible source for real knowledge, knowledge that stems from a true compassion for the people you are trying to help.

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