We Live in a Society driven by information. Information provides the building blocks upon which knowledge is constructed. Today, knowledge is the real currency of business-the stimulus that drives our economy and then our lives.
Two of the most revered thinkers of the past 100 years, Peter Drucker and Philip Kotler, were clear in their characterization of the contemporary business environment. That is, we now live in a knowledge society.
Peter Drucker noted this transformation in his book The Post Capitalist Society, exhorting, "That knowledge has become the resource, rather than a resource.
According to Kotler "the passage from an Industrial Economy into an Informational Economy is introducing new considerations that question the suitability of conventional marketing thinking in developing today's and tomorrow's marketing strategies."
The past ten years have seen tremendous tumult in the field of marketing. We live in a media-rich world in which information bombs us from all angles. In his compelling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini states, "You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment, easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed on this planet."
These views suitably describe the world we live in, where information and knowledge are central to our existence. The advent of computers, the Internet, wireless communication, and other technologies are presenting new opportunities for marketing practitioners.
One of the areas is that of partnering with customers, both business-to-business and business-to-consumer, to create a learning experience in which the customer learns-both how to better define their problem and how to best solve this problem.
In this new reality, it's the customer who, for the most part, runs the show.
Customers are using technology to learn about the company behind the product and services they purchase along with dissecting every element of the product via self-education-and that fundamentally changes everything.
Capturing the customer's attention is no longer possible by simply putting your message "out there." An emphasis on knowledge creation calls for bold changes.
What has to change? The way you communicate.
The fast pace of today's marketplace-whatever your industry-has changed the way customers want to do business. Marketing has become less about pushing messages out to people, and more about empowering them to make informed purchase decisions.
Rather than engaging in a specialized process, marketing communicators should look to inform and educate potential customers, providing them with insight and information that they need to make an intelligent decision. Doing this is the new way of building customer loyalty.
This paper discusses a new method of understanding and influencing the customer through communications that inform and influence. This method is called edumarketing.
Edumarketing is the activity initiated by a company that is designed to influence changes in knowledge, skills, or attitudes of customers-whether individuals, groups, or communities.
Cognitive psychology, and particularly research dealing with how people learn, tells us that people use existing perceptual filters and mental representations when making decisions.
Numerous studies verify that thinking involves three constructive elements-that together drive they way people learn. These elements are cognition, emotion, and the context in which the thinking takes place.
Edumarketing impacts the path to purchase using education-based marketing that informs, instructs and educates. Weaving together the cognitive, emotional and social components of learning.
Today, your customers are likely to hold you to very high standards when it comes to providing them with data and information necessary for them create knowledge and understanding. Ultimately helping them make the best purchase possible.
Education based marketing, edumarketing, provides an opportunity for the marketing communicator to connect with customers in a way centered that delivers high-received value. Instead of overwhelming people with a self-inflated message, the marketing communicator presents an educational basis for helping the customer find the proper solution to their idiosyncratic issue. And this changes the way you create and exchange messages about your products and services.
How does it work?
The main task for marketing communicators has become every bit as much that of an educator as it is an informer and entertainer. Certainly a great many consumer products will continue down the path of least resistance-that is, to simply entertain in the hopes of building brand image or manipulating one-time sales.
However, what is quickly becoming a prominant part of the marketer tool kit is the use of educational techniques to help build loyalty resulting in sales.
Take for example the ordinary cereal box. Cheerios adorns its box with its "Heart Healthy" educational messages. Cheerios uses the cereal box to educate consumers on the issue of cholesterol and, of course, how Cheerios can be a part of reducing cholesterol.
This new approach to marketing relies on educating the customer, and for that different principals of marketing apply. The new marketer must understand principles of learning and for sophisticated products and services-get this … learning theory.
Another example, small industrial detergent maker ChemStation (www.chemstation.com) supplies thousands of products in hundreds of industries. ChemStation sells industrial cleaning chemical to a wide variety of business customers, ranging from car washes to the US Air Force. Whether a customer is washing down a fleet or a factory, a store or a restaurant, ChemStation comes up with the right cleaning solution every time.
ChemStation partners with customers working with them to custom-design solutions to their unique cleaning problems. ChemStation works with each individual customer to concoct a soap formula specifically designed for that customer.
This works because many business buyers prefer to buy a packaged solution to a problem from a single seller. ChemStation sells its intellectual capabilities to firms that need solutions.
Another firm that excels in the edumarketing arena is Butterball, a leader in the marketing and selling of turkeys. Customers can visit the Butterball web site (www.butterball.com) for information on cooking and carving a turkey.
Butterball's web site receives over 500,000 visitors during the Thanksgiving week accessing its timely features and tips. However, the dedication to education is found in the fact that the Butterball help line (1-800-BUTTTERBALL) is staffed by 50 home economists and nutritionists who respond to more than 100,000 questions each November and December.
BMW has capitalized on its edumarketing capabilities. They offer an exiting a training program for young drivers. As a part of its "Ultimate Driving Experience" tour, BMW offers to teach people how to drive their cars-at fast speeds! The offer: "Experienced professional drivers will be on hand to guide you through a variety of exhilarating driving techniques designed to hone your abilities – and make you a safer, more confident driver." The benefit: Drivers turned on by their new driving capabilities and ready to engage in a conversation about how to integrate these capabilities into their daily driving habits.
Gone are the days when advertisers could simply tell the world about their new and wonderful product or service. Today's customers are smart. They have access to information from a wide range of sources-and they use it. Firms must go beyond the simple show-and-tell of yesteryear.