Educate Your Target Audience

“If (insert name here) only knew.”

That’s a mantra. If a customer only knew what our product could do for them. If a consumer only knew how much money they’d save by switching to our service. If a company only knew our product was safer than our competitor’s.

Then the executive demands from the marketing department an education effort. Someone authors a white paper. It’s put on the website where a few folks download it and then get virtually pummeled by salesman or an automated nurture campaign. There’s a webinar planned that people pull up on their screens then proceed to spend the hour answering stale e-mails or playing solitaire as someone drones on to boring, overly verbose PowerPoint slides.

This is the normal education marketing, especially in B2B2C. It works barely enough to justify it, but only because about a quarter of decision makers in the business world are Baby Boomers who still enjoy the detail-oriented process.

Look at the white papers of the 2000s and you’ll see longer researched term paper formats with footnotes and details. Today’s white papers are shorter, more graphic with the hope to get people to read them in the USA Today attention-span.

Education can work, but not as a standalone. I works as the third step in the process.

  1. Excite
  2. Engage
  3. Educate

Why does education come third?

I’m going to borrow from politics and religion — I know, controversial subjects, right? It’s not the subject, but the structure of a political rally or a religious service.

With each, there’s an opening that includes, for the most part, music. This is intended to begin to excite the audience or congregation. People are asked to stand, clap, sing, participate. There’s a building of energy.

This leads directly to engaging everyone. That participation in the event, in the excitement, helps invest in what’s happening around them. They’ve now — in essence — begun to pay something like time, energy and emotion to this event.

The candidate isn’t the first to speak. The preacher doesn’t deliver the sermon at the beginning. That message — the actual education piece — comes significantly into the service, after everyone is excited and engaged.

And to make sure everyone is ready, usually the speaker will crack some sort of joke. Why? That humor opens up everyone to receiving the information.

Humor is a shortcut to exciting and engaging an audience. That’s why some of the best advertising — the commercials you probably recall from breaks during the Super Bowl — all contain humor.

It’s that one last push to get people ready to hear the education portion… Snickers satisfies hunger. The Force is with VW. Old Spice makes you smell like a man.

Sure, you can try to push the message out there, to educate without the first two steps. But the effectiveness with be questionable and forgettable.

Today’s Generation X and Millenials expect entertainment and justification for taking a few moments or an hour away from their valuable lives and investing it in learning more about you. This audience wants payment for the engagement they’re going to provide.

“If you only knew.”

Now you do.

Published by

Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at You can follow him on Twitter at and see more about his professional experience at Reach him via e-mail at

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