Internet Marketing: How to Preach Less and Teach More

When it comes to your internet marketing efforts – and specifically your content marketing – are you talking at customers or are you talking to them? The difference may seem subtle, but there’s actually a huge disparity between them.

Preaching vs. Teaching

If you’ve grown up in any sort of formal religious setting, then you’re familiar with preaching. It looks different for every religion, but there tends to be some sort of authority figure – a rabbi, pastor, priest, minister, etc. – who preaches to his congregation on a regular basis.

Preaching is typically a one-way conversation. The leader gets up in front of the audience, delivers a statement, and then everyone walks away. The audience has no part in the sermon and is instead merely a consumer.

Teaching is also something you’re probably familiar with. Again, teaching takes place in many different environments, but the most common is the school classroom setting. While some teachers are lecturers (this falls more on the preaching side of the spectrum), good teachers do an effective job of engaging their students. They teach valuable information, ask questions, show examples, debate contrarian points, and encourage group discussion.

There’s a time for preaching, but as a marketer, you have to understand that preaching is far less effective than teaching. The audience is idle in a preaching scenario, whereas the audience is engaged and provoked in a teaching scenario. In terms of marketing, the latter is more productive and high returning. That’s why you need to find ways to educate through your marketing – and specifically through your content.

Remove Friction Points With Educational Content

It’s easy to preach when you develop content. After all, you have very specific marketing goals and you know what needs to be said in order to move your audience from point A to point B. However, educational content – though it may be harder to craft – is far more effective.

Assuming that your business has an acute understanding of your customers’ pain point and has done a good job of developing a product that satisfies this pain point, then the only thing holding you back from selling is friction. There is some sort of friction at one or more points of the conversion funnel that prevents people from purchasing. It should be your primary mission to lubricate these friction points.

Educational content is a fantastic way to do just this. Here’s a great example from Holabird Sports. They understand that many customers don’t understand what type of feet they have and therefore don’t know which shoes to purchase. So, the marketing team develops content like this in their Running Tech Center to educate customers. As a result, their customers understand the concept of different foot types and can make smarter and more informed purchase decisions.

Casper, a leading direct-to-consumer mattress company, is another great example. On their blog, they frequently post educational content that’s engaging and informative. They understand that most people don’t know a lot about sleep and that this ignorance keeps them from purchasing a better mattress. As a result, they seek to educate readers on why sleep matters – and, in particular, why quality sleep matters.

There are hundreds of other examples, but these two from Holabird Sports and Casper stand out. They are perfect templates for what it looks like to gently lubricate friction at various points in the conversion funnel.

Focus on Your Audience

At the end of the day, you must focus on your audience. What are they looking for? If you can identify who they are and what makes them tick, your content will prove to be an invaluable resource moving forward.

But just remember – try to do a little less preaching and a lot more teaching.