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The risk of trusting another’s digital marketing knowledge

I have discussed the importance of being educated regarding the online marketing space in the past. As you may have guessed, I haven’t changed my stance and, in fact, I have turned up the volume on this mantra of mine for one simple reason: I am back in a more traditional sales role with the Edgeworks Group. So what you ask? Well, thanks for asking.

Why would a sales person want his prospects to be more educated in the ways of digital marketing? Isn’t that counter to the sales person’s desire to be in control and to “help” the prospect decide for their companies services? Actually yes, if you are not concerned about relationships and long-term repeat customers. In other words, if you are a transactional seller, having an under-educated consumer works because your buyer may never see you again, so what do you care as long as they bought from you?

Knowledge will make you free
Photo credit: tellatic

It’s this very thinking and the shameless training of sales people to take advantage of people that has given the Internet industry a bit of a black eye with regard to reputation. I was once asked the following by a prospect who I was talking to about SEO services.

Prospect: What’s the difference between an SEO salesman and a used car salesman?

Me: I don’t know but I am confident that you are about to tell me.

Prospect: The used car salesman knows when he is lying.

Painful but, in the same breath, sad but true. It’s hard to be properly educated even inside the Internet industry so imagine how hard it is for those who want the benefits of digital marketing but aren’t versed in even the basics. They are ripe for the picking by unscrupulous sales charlatans.

That’s the exact reason that I relish the thought of talking to a prospect that has taken the time to educate him or herself because having a common ground of basic knowledge makes the possibility of a relationship much more possible and palatable.

With a knowledgable prospect, I have to be on top of my game. I have to think strategically rather than transactionally. The end result is a more thorough understanding of the true needs of the prospect, and thus a more structured and targeted offering that meets the customer where they are and moves forward on a mutually understood mission.

Unfortunately, these scenarios are more rare than you might think. Why? Because it takes time to learn about Internet marketing. It takes time and commitment that most don’t have in a world where people are constantly being asked to do more with less help.

My solution? Training on both sides of the ledger. Better training for the sales folks in the Internet marketing space. In addition, more training for businesses to better understanding this rapidly evolving and increasingly important aspect of a truly integrated and effective marketing mix.

My concern? That people won’t see the immediate value of real education because we tend to be short-sighted, especially in business. As a result, the same tired song and dance will be played out ad nauseum over the not-too-distant future. The result being more frustration and stunted growth for companies and an industry alike.

What do you think? Is educating the business masses to the ways of digital marketing the answer? Would you feel threatened if your customers or clients knew too much? If you would feel threatened, then you may need to consider another line of work. People get found out pretty quickly in this space. You still get the customary three strikes, but at an increasingly accelerated rate of speed.

In the end, knowledge never hurt anyone. Lack of knowledge, however, can destroy a business. Don’t let your, or your customer’s, lack of knowledge end in doing bad business. It doesn’t help anyone no matter what the commission paid was.

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