Let It Be Known
Entrepreneurs have to be accountants, marketers, human resource managers and CEOs. But to really be effective, they have to be teachers, too. It pays to make educating customers about your product or service an integral part of your marketing campaign.
Internet pioneer eBay knows education is key-its eBay University workshops teach people how to buy and sell with the best, while simultaneously garnering publicity for the company.
And smaller companies can also profit. Gary Shinner, 46, and Jill Portman, 43, of Sausalito, California's Mighty Leaf Tea have been giving lessons since they started as a tea house. "Consumers don't understand tea," Portman says. "We take the mystique out of it."
Now solely a manufacturer, Mighty Leaf Tea offers a program to help distributors such as restaurants, hotels and coffee bars hone their tea knowledge. "We'll train the wait staff," says Portman, "so they, in turn, can train their [customers]."
Educating is a great way to get buzz, but be mindful not to make an educational program that's just a thinly veiled commercial. "Be genuine," says Carol Cone, CEO of Cone Inc., a Boston branding and marketing firm. "Ask yourself, How can I advance the customer's knowledge?"
You know you have to do whatever it takes when it comes to running your business. But did you know that doing whatever it takes applies to your marketing efforts, too? You will if you check out Confessions of Shameless Self Promoters (Success Showcase Publishing, $14.95) by Debbie Allen. Allen gathered 67 of her fellow marketing gurus to share ideas, inspirations and fun anecdotes of strange but effective marketing tricks. Read cool stories like how one guru shamelessly marketed her book into the hands of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, or how another marketer drove across the country in an RV promoting his romance book. You can also pay a visit to www.debbieallen.com to sign up for a free newsletter or download a free sample chapter of the book.