Jinfo BlogMarketing is education; education is marketing

Tuesday, 22nd May 2012 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Click for printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added Tweet about this item on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

By Robin Neidorf

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All marketing is a form of education. Many vendors have found that a reuse license for a VIP  review of their products provides them with a flexible, powerful education and marketing tool, effective for meeting the needs of a range of audiences and goals.


My career has involved nearly equal measures of marketing and education work, and I know this isn’t an accident. I’ve always felt that marketing and education draw on the same skills and orientation. Both disciplines ask the question: “What does my audience/student need to know in order to make the next right decision?”

When FreePint works with sponsors to design campaigns, we are often supporting them in how they educate the audience. One of the tools we can provide to support education is a licensed reprint of a product review.

The methodology used for a VIP product review results in comprehensive documentation of what the product does well, its key features, the approach the vendor has used to develop it and the kinds of real-world problems it solves.  Unlike vendor-written materials, VIP Reports on Products have the validity of an unbiased perspective and testing run by a professional who knows how users in the field will want to use the product… even if it’s not quite what the vendor intended.

What’s more, the production processes for VIP reviews result in a range of different types of content, which a vendor can apply to different types of marketing (and education) situations.

Marketing to different audiences

A vendor has a range of audiences – those who already are familiar with the product or might be “power users”, those who have heard of the product but haven’t used it, and those who have never heard of it, to name a few common categories. One vendor who licensed reuse of a VIP product review was able to address the education and marketing needs of all three of these categories through a single reuse license.

  • Executive Summary

The executive summary of a product review focuses on the key strengths of a product. It also highlights any important developments or feature enhancements since the last product review.

This vendor used the executive summary as an education and marketing tool for two key audiences:

  1. Existing customers: Current customers always need to be reminded of the value of a product, and they are among the first a vendor wants to tell about new features. True, the vendor had its own announcements it also sent to current customers, but the reuse of the VIP Executive Summary got more attention from customers because of its unbiased perspective.
  2. “Never heard of it” prospects: At only two pages in PDF, the executive summary made an excellent initial education piece for prospects who had never heard of the product. At a cost less than developing a new marketing brochure, the reuse license provided the vendor with an authoritative, engaging and focused document that provided prospects with enough information to help them decide if the product might address their needs… and ask for more information.
  • Full Report

The full review is a lengthy document, which runs several thousand words and a dozen pages or more in PDF (including screen shots).  The vendor leveraged this report to achieve a number of marketing and educational goals:

  1. New customers and “somewhat familiar” prospects: These two audiences have a similar need: get up to speed quickly on a product’s features and the best way to use them. The vendor presented the licensed report to new customers as an additional training resource, to support users who did not have time to attend live training or who wanted a written document next to them while practicing with the product. Similarly, prospects who knew something about the product but wanted more in-depth education about its ins and outs could use the report to meet this need.
  2. Lead qualification of prospects: The vendor also used the full review as a way to qualify new leads. The executive summary was provided to all prospects, with a statement included that recipients could request the full report at no cost. Those prospects who requested it were clearly the most interested and engaged.

Miscellaneous Content

VIP product reviews also result in a brief article on the LiveWire, as well as numerous quotable comments about a product’s strengths. The vendor leveraged these elements in its newsletters, blog, presentations, sales materials and website.

Ongoing education (and marketing)

Vendors tell us that one of the things they appreciate about the VIP product review process is the dispassionate yet knowledgeable investigation of a product’s performance. Often, their own developers are too close to the product to be able to see its strengths and weaknesses clearly.

Today’s content products are powerful and complex. They are rarely easy to summarise in a single statement of value. They are constantly undergoing the next phase of improvements. New prospects consider products within the context of a dizzying array of possibilities.

Even once the sale has been made, it’s essential to continue the education process – to keep customers and users up-to-speed on developments, features, and the problems a product is designed to solve.

At every stage from lead to long-term customer, vendors can support their marketing and education goals with reuse licensing.

VIP selects products for review based solely on the input of a customer advisory board and editorial direction. There is no fee to be reviewed, and no obligation to license reuse. To learn more about having your products considered by our customer advisory board, please contact Catherine Dhanjal at catherine.dhanjal@freepint.com.

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