Educating Your Customers—The Customer IEP
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Educating your customers on a wide variety of issues—from the problems they’re having that your business solves to how to get the most out of your products/services and more—is the key to a strong, long-lasting relationship.
What you need—what you really need—is an individualized plan to educate every market segment you’re targeting.
See, I’m a special needs mom, which means I speak a language full of acronyms. “IEP” is one of those acronyms—it stands for Individualized Education Plan, and it’s a way to make sure our special needs kids are getting access to the specific resources each kid needs to be successful.
(Hang with me here—I’ll tie this into marketing, I swear.)
It’s a plan that addresses where these kids are now and determines what help they need to meet educational goals. It’s just for them—it won’t work well for other kids because it takes individual needs into account.
We need to apply this exact same concept to our businesses.
Educating Our Customers Leads Them (and Us) to Success
Most customers need education around what we do—if they didn’t, they’d do it themselves!
But every customer is different—some of our customers are really good at marketing in certain areas of their business, but struggle with stuff like design or content creation.
Customers also need education at different points along the customer journey. While they’re still prospects, they may need help understanding the problem they’re facing, or why our solution is the best solution for their individual needs.
Once they become customers, they may need to be educated on our processes, or on the reasoning behind our suggestions. They may need continuing education to understand the value of ongoing services or the value of new services.
When we work with new clients or customers (or if we’re being totally honest here, the old ones too) are we really taking the steps we need to make sure they have the right education plan in place for their individual needs?
Are we putting any education plan in place?
And if we aren’t, how can we expect them to be good clients, to follow our processes, and to value what we do for them?
If they don’t have the basic skills or knowledge to have realistic expectations and to understand what our product or service will do for them, then we have failed before we even got started.
From the moment they realize they have a problem—actually let’s back up. Maybe they can’t even identify that problem. From the moment they feel some kind of pain or discomfort, it’s our job to start the education plan.
Marketing Is Teaching
As marketers, we must become the teachers that guide our customers and clients down a path of understanding. We need to show them we understand their problem (and that maybe we’ve even been there before).
We also need to make sure they know who we are and that we have a plan for solving their problem, a plan individualized for their needs. If we’re doing a great job of appealing to their needs and their problems, of showing them we understand, they may actually come to like who we are.
Everyone prefers working with someone they like. Nobody wants to work with a jerk (even if they can perform). If we’re teaching our prospects and our existing customers and helping them better their businesses (and maybe even helping them become better leaders), then it’s likely they’ll come to like us along the way.
And that means a long-term working relationship that benefits everyone.
Show Them Why You’re the Best Choice
Earning your customer’s trust and helping them understand why you are their best choice is one of the hardest parts of the sales process.
Your branding and your messaging play a critical role in this process. When a prospect first encounters your brand, you want to make a great first impression, right?
Of course you do.
Once they’ve become your customers, the journey continues. You want that relationship to thrive so that they stick around and tell their friends about how awesome you are. You stay awesome by continuing to educate them, by helping them thrive.
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