My news feed today lead me to a very interesting article on Smashing Magazine, “Stop Shouting. Start Teaching.” by Christopher Butler
Interestingly, although the website is about design, marketing, marketing design, or design marketing, this one post started the discussion by talking about teaching and how the “mind is being blown” when it’s a good one.
Some interesting excerpts from the article:
“Imagine you are in a classroom. Let’s say a high school classroom. You’re sitting at your desk, listening to your favorite teacher—the one who inspired you, the one who got you excited about that thing you love for the first time.
You’ve stopped taking notes because your body just can’t quite function normally when your mind is being blown. You don’t feel the pen in your hand, or the surface of the desk under your arms. You’re somewhere in between your body and the blackboard. That’s the magic of learning; it’s transportational.
Now, deep breath.
Back to reality.
Perhaps your learning experiences were not like this, but I hope they were. And if they were, did it ever occur to you in those moments that you were being sold something? That the moment was approaching when you’d be asked to sign on the dotted line or open your wallet? When you’d kick yourself for being fooled into thinking that your teacher was offering something to you for free? When you’d learn to stifle the desire and ability to trust someone?
Of course not. What you received came without strings attached; it was a free gift of knowledge to change you, to shape you, to edify you. Not to compel you to buy something.
After all, your teacher wasn’t a marketer.
Or, was he?
ATTRACT, INFORM, ENGAGE
So, let’s say you’ve got the quality and positioning stuff worked out. You do something good that nobody else does. Fantastic. That is, assuming people know about you. Taking a Field of Dreams approach—if you build it, they will come—won’t work. If you build it, and they know about it, they will come. But even if they come, you’ve got to make sure they understand what it is that they’re coming for. And then you’ve got to make them want to stick around. This is a three-step process: attracting prospects, properly informing them, engaging with them. That is what marketing should be all about. Attract, inform, engage; not attract, mislead, compel.
If you are well positioned, attraction is much easier. Imagine three hot-dog vendors at a baseball game. Two wander up and down the stands, shouting, “Hot dogs! Get your delicious hot dogs here!” Their success is going to come down to luck—who happens to be closest to the right people. But the third vendor sticks to the low seats. He’s shouting, too, except he’s got different dogs to sell: “Low-fat hot dogs! Eat two for the fat of one!” Now who do you think will have an easier time selling hot dogs? The more specific your audience is, the easier it is to attract them.
If you can attract a specific audience, informing is easy, too. You already know something about them and what they need. If you have a worthy solution to that need, all you have to do is tell them about it. That’s where the teaching comes in: Start generally—Introduction to Your Problem, then Our Solution 101—and be prepared to give them more detail as they need it. Incrementally informing, by the way, will also take care of engagement. Give them some, they’ll want more. Ask any engaged student sitting in Advanced Trigonometry 3 why they are there and you’ll likely hear many similar answers, all having to do with being attracted and informed by someone special back in their beginner days.
I know it’s abstract, but if there is one single characteristic of good teachers that could stand to make everything we do—as well as how we market it—better, it’s caring. Good teachers care. They care about the material. They care about how they teach it. They care about their students. If we care too—about what we do, how we do it, and who we do it for—then we’ll be OK.
Resisting the Dark Side
That’s the setup, anyway. But caring is hard. Caring requires a commitment to resisting the very things that currently seem to drive the culture of marketing—things like haste, deception, and even your own ego.”