teaching.jpgI’ve been reading a book called Rework by the founders of 37Signals (creators of Basecamp an online project management software).  They have a refreshing view and approach to running a small business.

In one section of the book the authors discuss the concept of out-teaching the competition.  The idea is that through education-based marketing, you can gain an audience that trusts and respects you.  They write:

Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, try to out-teach them.  Teaching probably isn’t something your competitors are even thinking about.  Most businesses focus on selling or servicing, but teaching never even occurs to them.

Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics.  Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing.  Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection.  They’ll trust you more.  They’ll respect you more. 

I couldn’t agree more.  We have found the education-based marketing approach to be invaluable for our own consulting business as well as for the law firms we work with. 

In the legal profession, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself.  It’s hard to make your firm stand out from the crowd.  A big firm can spend a lot on advertising, but they aren’t going to engage in teaching.  The reason is that it is time consuming, difficult to scale, and risks giving up secrecy.  These are all advantages a smaller firm or individual has at their disposal over the larger firms.

The law can be a very foreign, difficult to understand subject for most people. The firms that have the ability to explain it in plain English and use education-based marketing will reap the benefits including: 

  • Building more value into your service
  • No longer having to sell on price
  • Positioning yourself as an expert in your field
  • Building trust in the beginning of the relationship
  • Providing transparency into your thoughts, process, and business
  • Making the competition that is hard-selling, using manipulative tactics, and telling half-truths less relevant

So How Do I Go About Education-Based Marketing?

Today there are more opportunities than ever before to utilize teaching and education-based marketing to get more clients.  Here are just a few suggestions to get you started:

1. Start Blogging – There is no better online forum to express your thoughts, ideas, skill sets, and expertise than through a blog.  It fosters conversations and allows for a more detailed explanation than a Tweet or Facebook post.

2. Answer Questions – Be generally helpful to others online.  Using question and answer services such as LinkedIn Answers, Avvo’s Ask A Lawyer, or newer services such as Quora (here is a post we wrote on Quora if you’ve never heard of it) can help build your expertise and get people asking about how you can help them.

3. Video Marketing – Use an online video as an opportunity to help educate someone as opposed to just advertising your firm. Anyone can talk into the camera telling everyone “how hard they will fight for you”. Take the opportunity to teach them something about the law that actually helps inform the consumer.

Photo by DRB62