There was an earlier time when creative marketers stumbled on to an unorthodox technique to spread the word about their new project that worked amazingly well.
It was not a technique that required sophistication, delicacy, or much up-front preparation. I call it “smash down the door” persuasion.
The technique was simple: get right in the face of the prospect to the point of being annoying, sometimes obnoxious, and always controversial.
As soon as you were positioned correctly, you yelled at the top of your lungs about your cool product until the prospect begged you for mercy and bought the product, mostly to get you out of the picture.
Talk about interruptive marketing. There was no way to disguise or soft sell this strategy.
It was as “in your face” as anything ever was.
It was built on the premise that if you yelled loud enough, long enough, and if the noise was as shrill and blood curdling as it could be, eventually your target would notice the message, crumple and acquiesce under the strain of relentless agitation.
Of course there are various degrees of this agitation – everything from the loudmouth car sales ad that races along at Mach 1 (including the 6-page disclaimer that is read in under 4 seconds) to the sickeningly cheesy and surprisingly popular “Can you hear me now?” ads that seem to be interrupting themselves.
Consumers are hit so often and so hard with buying messages of every kind, type, and genre these days, that it’s pretty easy to understand why this direct and over-the-top technique rarely sells anything.
Now jump to the opposite end of the ad spectrum and consider a unique marketing strategy that is about as innocent, subtle, and soft sell as anything could be.
In fact, this strategy calls for the prospect to actually request the marketing before the first sales pitch is ever uttered.
It’s a technique called educational marketing.
There are many variations on this theme, but the idea is that targeted customers are given a disguised sales pitch woven into ad copy that looks and sounds more like a scholarly article or a “How to . . .” guide than a direct marketing piece.
One of the advantages to this strategy is that prospects qualify themselves for the product because they are the ones that generally cut this ad out of the newspaper or magazine (or print it off the Internet) and save it for later reference.
Who could ask for anything more?
Educational marketing relies on the customer’s desire to learn about a product, educate himself about overcoming a problem, or research a subject so that he can make a very informed decision about what to buy.
The sales pitch for a particular product or service is hardly a sales pitch at all.
It looks more like simply an expert’s recommendation of the best product on the market that will solve all the problems that have been identified.
The direct sales letter may be titled something like “13 tips to easily removing unwanted stains from the kitchen countertop” or “23 ways to pay off your home mortgage in ten years without refinancing.”
The educational aspect of the sales pitch draws the reader in, lends credibility and objectivity to the narrative, gives him a list of benefits of the product disguised as subtopic headlines, and makes the call to action appear to be a simple suggestion to try a particular product that can be purchased “here” at an introductory price!
If you haven’t yet seen the power of educational marketing, you soon will.
It is a real turnabout from the “smash down the door” persuasion that used to be in vogue. Coming soon to the Internet near you . . .
To your online business success!