Educational Marketing vs. Promotional Marketing

Educational Marketing vs. Promotional Marketing

By Ann O'Brien | June 5, 2021

For some business owners, sending a printed newsletter filled with educational marketing articles that seem to have little connection to their specific business or industry can feel a little mystifying or even senseless at first.  Why am I giving customers and prospects money saving tips, trend alerts, and fun tidbits when I run a business that has nothing to do with these things? We get it. Any deviation from the “norm” can feel uncomfortable—even risky at first. But remember: the strategies you’ve been adhering to up until this point have been mediocre at best. The social media posts, the digital ads, the emails…they just aren’t selling as much volume as you’re counting on. But aside from their platforms that make ignoring, spamming, blocking, and deleting so simple, there’s another reason for these ho-hum results: people detest advertising. And much of the hatred may lie in the fact that a significant number of people distrust ads. According to Socialnomics, that number is as high as 86% for social media ads. Ouch.

Not all ads are hated the same. In fact, traditional forms of advertising rank highest in terms of consumer trust, including personal recommendations, ads in newspapers, and editorial content, such as newspaper articles. But if you’re like many businesses who now rely on social media and banner ads, consumer trust is significantly less (Source: Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report, 2015).

And yet for every month you don’t reach out to your customers, you lose 10% of them. Initially, this paradox is a hard pill to swallow. Your customers and prospects want to hear from you, but they don’t want advertising. How can any business possibly reconcile that kind of consumer contradiction? How do you achieve what Nielsen calls the foundational factors of a successful ad campaign (Reach, Resonance, and Reaction)?

In a phrase: educational marketing.

Educational marketing is essentially self-defining. It’s a multi-channel strategy that uses a rich variety of what you might call educational content in order to capture consumer interest, trust, and loyalty in a way that doesn’t reek of marketing and advertising. And it makes so much sense when you really think about it. People are understandably preoccupied with their own needs and wants, and educational-style marketing helps spark a connection between consumer interests and businesses/brands. Research shows that people LOVE content. An incredible 90% of consumers find branded content useful (Source: Custom Content Council). And when you’re sending them in an impressive printed or email newsletter filled with a rich collection of articles, you’re giving them something they find valuable and entertaining at seemingly no cost to them. What they don’t know? You’re getting a 600% higher return rate on your newsletter investment than all of your digital marketing efforts combined! (Source: Advertising Association Report, direct mail ROI metrics, 2015)

When you choose the educational route, you not only give your customers something they crave and value, but you automatically stand out as an interesting, trustworthy beacon of knowledge among a deafening crowd of flashing, noisy, and quite frankly BORING marketing ploys. Why is that? Think about it. People are flooded by the same repeat messages every day: Buy Now. AMAZING Deal. Sale Ends Tonight. Don’t Miss Out. What happens when we see the same repeat messages? We become desensitized. Jaded. Unmoved. Unreachable even. What seems like such great calls to action are actually just stale replays of the same uninspiring phrases, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. No wonder people are so disinterested in opening mass emails and clicking on digital ads.

But there’s a silver lining: Content marketing. Educational pieces that allow people to discover new ideas, trends, studies, and things that enhance their own lives, with some fun entertainment to boot. Give the people what they want and they will come.

How to Incorporate Educational Marketing

#1. Send a printed or email newsletter. The problem with alternative forms of content marketing such as blogs and social media posts is the limited reach. If you’ve already tried these channels for content, you’ve seen exactly how inadequate they are in terms of getting opened, seen, and read. You need a reliable content format that gets seen by nearly all of your recipients—not just a small fraction; printed and email newsletters are the ideal way to accomplish just that.

#2. Use content from your printed and email newsletter on other outlets. Provided you have an online presence, including a website and social media profiles, there are plenty of people “checking you out” online who don’t receive your printed or email newsletter (at least yet). But that doesn’t mean you can’t give them access to the same great content via your blog and social media posts.

#3. Encourage positive feedback. Business owners tend to forget that online reviews and testimonials are an integral part of content marketing. There’s no better “lesson” than reading about other people’s experiences with your products/services. To encourage a steady stream of great reviews, include reminders such as “Give us a Shout-Out on Yelp” as part of your branding strategy…even if it’s just a simple message in your email signature or packaging.

Does Promotional Marketing Ever Have a Place in Your Strategy?

You bet! This style of marketing works well if you’re having a special sale or promotion, you’re selling an amazing new product/service that you think could really benefit customers, or you’re hosting an event. And since you’ve already earned your customers’ trust by consistently sending them your educational printed and email newsletters, you’ve got their full attention.

Making Educational Marketing Work for You

LinkedIn reports that 1) lack of time and bandwidth to create content, 2) producing enough content in terms of variety and volume, and 3) producing truly engaging content are businesses’ top three content marketing strategy concerns (Source: LinkedIn Technology Marketing Community). Moreover, most small-to-medium-sized businesses just don’t have the budget for a content marketing team. That’s where we can help. Check out our printed and email newsletter options.

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