Episode 51 of Landscape Digital Show reveals how to teach customers to buy by applying an adult learning framework to your marketing.


Adult Learning: Teaching Customers to Buy

There are many definitions of content marketing and even more for marketing in general. But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree the ultimate purpose of marketing is to attract the right buyers and guide them toward a relationship with your business.

To do that, we’re going to use a framework that compliments how adults like to learn. It’s credited to a man by the name of Malcolm Knowles, who is well known for his theories regarding self-directed or autonomous adult learning.

That’s what’s happening these days when prospective customers are checking out your website, videos and other marketing to make comparisons with your competitors. According to Knowles, the four factors you should consider to move buyers to action are as follows:

#1. Collaboration – Adults want to be involved in the planning or creation of their experience for making new discoveries

#2. Relevance – Adults are most interested in learning about subjects that are relevant to their jobs or personal lives.

#3. Direct Experience – Experience, including mistakes, provides the basis for learning.

#4. Problem-Centered Approach – Adult learning should be problem-oriented.

Let’s take them one at a time.

#1. Collaboration

Your future customers have access to abundant media and are often well-informed about their situation. Armed with that information they are usually looking for a guide that can take them further.

People want to collaborate and co-create their own solutions. If your marketing communicates that your business has a collaborative process to engage them you will easily stand out from your competitors.

#2. Relevance

Adults are interested in two things: What will help them better perform their work, because that’s where they spend the majority of their waking hours, and how to improve their quality of life.

In the previous episode, we discussed audience outcomes. The challenge for businesses is to thoroughly understand their customers’ decision criteria. While surveys are helpful, interviewing them one-to-one is best, according to Adele Revella, the founder of the Buyer Persona Institute.

#3. Direct Experience

Let’s face it, most people like to try things before they buy them. Is there a way to test-drive your landscaping services? At the very least, you should help your audience experience what you sell through the lens of your successfully completed projects.

This is why I’m a huge advocate of case studies that showcase the evolution of project solutions from start to finish, including the motivations of the customers, challenges encountered with delivering your solutions, how everything came together, and what’s next, like a plan for care and upkeep.

4. Problem-Centered Approach

It’s not always natural to think in terms of problems, especially if you consider yourself to be a positive-minded individual. Nevertheless, that’s the key to selling more work.

You have to get to the heart of what drives your customers to take action, all the way to the finish line. People get stuck. That’s why they contact businesses like yours.

It’s up to you to prove that you are the better choice. This includes not just solving the obvious problems, but the ones that buyers don’t even know that they have.

You sometimes have to turn up the heat to help them feel the pain of making a poor choice. One of the surest ways of accomplishing this is to show them the why behind everything you do.

People want a product with integrity, but they may not know what that is. So, if you can show them how and why you build that integrity into your solutions, you will not only justify the sale, but also the potentially higher price it should command.

Call to Action

Get everyone on your marketing team thinking of marketing as education that teaches people how your business solves problems.

Recognize that it is the responsibility of the business to take every buyer by the hand and guide him or her where they want to go, which is to the successful resolution of their problem.

This is your content marketing in action.

It informs; it guides; it teaches, and all of that sells.