Having spent the first handful of my post-collegiate years as a high school English teacher, I’m constantly finding parallels between that world and the one in which I currently reside – the world of content marketing. And in fact, at their very cores, the two fields aren’t entirely unrelated. Both of them educate and provide information. Teaching clients about content marketing isn’t altogether different from teaching students about writing styles. In the end, it’s all content.
So of course I believe that there are numerous lessons that content marketing can learn from teaching (as well as numerous lessons that teaching could learn from content marketing, but that’s a post for another day).
Think back to your days in school. You could always figure out what worked and what didn’t for the teachers. The lessons that they had pored over were the ones you most enjoyed because the time and care had been taken to make sure that there was always a little something for everyone – including you. There was plenty of variety, and you learned something.
These are important lessons, especially for those who are new to content marketing.
Top 3 Lessons Content Marketers Can Learn From Teachers
1. Don’t aim to sell; aim to educate
A good teacher wants the students to actually learn and be interested in the subject matter. As a good content marketer, you want to present your site visitors and leads with informative material. You want to educate them on the “illuminating aspects” of your brand without going in for the hard sell.
Marcus Sheridan is one of the best-known examples of this. His inbound marketing story is the stuff of legend. You see, in 2001, Marcus founded River Pools and Spas. Click on that link once and check out the page out in a new window. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
What do you notice?
The very first line of text: “Our Goal: To Empower You Through Education! …and if you live in our area, hopefully earn your business.”
It goes on to say that the site is full of articles, facts, and videos about in-ground pools. That’s it – swimming pools. There are no hard sells for River Pools and Spas. The content takes care of the selling for them because they educate the visitors and convert them to leads and, eventually, customers.
Check out this video of Marcus Sheridan talking about what inbound (and content marketing, specifically) did for his business.
2. Repurpose your content for a variety of audiences
In the teaching world, nearly every lesson I created had to have some kind of differentiation plan. I had to teach the same material in different ways that would appeal to different learning speeds and styles.
Two important lessons from teaching: not everyone can learn just by reading, and not everyone can learn just by listening. Instead, we learned about Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences in college, and were told to “repurpose” our lessons to meet a variety of these learning styles.
I strongly encourage you to check out Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences because they’re extremely beneficial to content marketers, as well. How can you repurpose your existing (and future) content to meet as many of these learning styles (read: your audience types) as possible?
The lesson here is that not all of your content consumers will learn just by reading. Not all of them will learn just by listening. Blog posts are great. Podcasts and simple video are great. But add some other methods to your content strategy mix, as well. Video, webinars, infographics, practical application ideas – these are just a few ways to take one piece of content and turn it into a variety of content that spans several formats.
3. Create an editorial calendar to align with your content
Teachers create lesson plans – long, detailed, boring, drawn-out lesson plans. It’s not the highlight of the job, but it does help to align your lessons with your themes and units.
Likewise, content marketers can incorporate editorial calendars as part of their overall strategy. Use editorial calendars to create different themes throughout the year that will align with your business or marketing goals and objectives. Then plan for content that lines up accordingly.
In addition to helping you stay organized with your content strategy, it also helps you prepare that evergreen content ahead of time so that when your industry needs to respond to timely events or breaking news, you have the ability to do both.
What ideas do you have about education and content marketing? Do you see the similarities? Let us know in the comments!