Why you need to use your website to teach your customers

What expectations do you have for your website? Should it be a digital business card? Should it be a lengthier version of your advertising brochure? Or could it be much, much more?

If 57% of the average business-to-business transaction happens before buyers engage with your salespeople (more on this later), is your website simply a commercial or is it a source for these buyers to educate themselves? The Internet has evolved, and your website should too. This article will show you why you need to use your website to teach your customers.

But what should I teach?

Whether it’s the written word, audio recordings, or video recordings, when it comes to producing content, you should begin moving from playing the role of salesperson to the role of teacher.

Often we’re apprehensive when it comes to producing content because we drastically overthink the process. The biggest mistake we all make is thinking we’re writing for our peers. When we try to write for our peers, we often make the material too complex. Why? We like to impress those in our industry while at the same time showing everyone else how smart we are.

But you should write for the person who knows nothing about your business. Why? Because the vast majority of people know nothing about your business. We all suffer from the curse of knowledge. When we assume our potential customers are as well informed as we are, we tend to write content (and teach) with too high a degree of complexity.

Our customers don’t care how smart we are (yet). Our customers want to educate themselves before making that ultimate buying decision, and ever-improving technology has allowed everyone to do this. Think about how our Google search queries have evolved over the past decade. Say you’re a parent of a toddler and you’re searching for a car seat online. Here is the evolution of search queries in that brief period:

2004: Car seats

2009: Best car seats

2014: What is the best car seat for my toddler?



In short, our customers are looking to us to provide answers to their very specific questions. When we use our websites to provide these answers — if we use our expertise to teach — we will be the trusted source of relevant and trustworthy information.

About that 57% …

The Corporate Executive Board Co. and Google surveyed 1,500 CEB members, asking them, “How far do you get in the decision-making process before you start contacting potential suppliers?” Regardless of the price point or the complexity of the purchase, their research shows 57% of the decision is made before customers even talk to vendors.

So what does this mean to us? It means that due diligence (i.e., research done independently) has now moved to the very front of the sales process. Instead of starting to shop for a car at the dealership itself, customers are researching vehicle options, prices, and potential inventory before stepping foot on the car lot. Instead of touring open houses as a first step to buying a new home, purchasers are researching school districts, sales trends, and new vs. existing homes before putting on those little blue booties to protect the carpet from their dirty shoes.

Customers now know exactly what they’re looking for before they even talk to you. So the most important question for us is “who’s taking the time to educate them?”

If your company’s website is simply a way for you to toot your own horn, then you’re missing the boat. The more quickly your company can transform your website into a teaching tool and not simply a sales tool, the more quickly you’ll start to win more business. Begin producing content to put on your website today by starting with this question: “If I were a potential customer of my business, what are the first things I would need to know?”

Spencer X. Smith is a Waunakee-based business consultant.

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