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Are You Selling or Teaching your Audience in Content Marketing?

Profile photo of Sunday William Submitted by Sunday William December 14, 2016

teaching content marketing

Content marketing has profound impact on how a product is perceived. It is important that the marketer understands how content can be deployed to bring about good perception and reception.

One mistake that most marketers keep doing in content marketing is ignoring what the prospect or audience wants. The audience has a strong say on the success of the content you are presenting. This say could be voiced or implied.

If a content marketer must excel then every piece of content – ebook, blog post, social shares, video, images, infographic, etc., must focus on the audience.

One way of ensuring this is to teach with the content instead of sell with the content.

Teaching with a content means:

♦  Helping the audience to learn and understand the benefits they will enjoy with your product/service
♦  Helping the audience identify a need and provide a solution
♦  Helping people see you as an expert and trust what you are offering.

On the other hand, Selling suggests you could be:  Promoting features instead of benefits to the end user, or you could be superimposing cost (price) where value should be promoted.

When it comes to using content to promote a product, there could be a fine line between teaching and selling. Nevertheless, it is important to do more of teaching with that blog post, video, ebook, infographic, etc., than selling.

Selling should come after enough “teaching” is done. It is not surprising that most copywriters recommend the call-to-action (which is the selling part) to be positioned after the main body (which is the teaching part).

Remember, when you teach, your audience will be motivated to buy what they want! But when you sell, the audience will buy what they need!

So, what is your take, are you selling or teaching with your audience in content marketing?

Please your thoughts in the comment section.

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Profile photo of Sunday William
I started with a College Degree in Business but I have been an Internet marketer and writer for 10+ years and have written 5,000+ high quality articles in diverse topics. I have also written 20,000+ comments on and 1,000+ blogs and/or websites. I have been working closely with Kingsley, the admin of for 10+ years and have been in the's administrative team since the first day in 2012. I highly recommend's Coaching and Partnership Program.

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36 Responses to “ Are You Selling or Teaching your Audience in Content Marketing?” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    Its sure important to teach while we sell. Indeed, it is a mistake to keep “selling” instead of helping the audience.

    Selling always seems like being “selfish” but if mixed with some bit of teaching then the audience will appreciate your essence.

    This is an important reminder to content marketers that there is more to selling that just asking the customer to buy a product!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Sunday,

      Sure, you got the basic message of the post. Selling should be mixed with some teaching.

      The amount of teaching that is provided will increase the propensity of influence the selling will provide!

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hey Sunday,

    Its helpful that you distinguished between teaching and selling in this post. It is clear that effective selling is only made possible with effective teaching.

    Sales cannot happen – technically – if the prospect is not going to benefit from the offer.

    Teaching the benefits of the product to the audience is one big step to embrace sales!

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    This is a short but powerful post about selling. One message marketers often miss when it comes to selling is teaching.

    Its revealing that you have expressly presented it without equivocation in this piece!

    So, one must ensure that for every sales copy there is the element of teaching to help the audience in better decision making, right?

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    This statement just about provides an unforgetable truth about selling and teaching in marketing:

    Remember, when you teach, your audience will be motivated to buy what they want! But when you sell, the audience will buy what they need!

    You couldn’t have put it better!

  • Profile photo of Norma Profile

    Hello Sunday,

    This is a very interesting question you asked in this post.

    How about do both, instead of just one, but doing both without appearing pushy with your selling?

    That’s how I would do it.

    What do you think?

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hey Norma,

      The basic idea is not to ignore selling but to infuse teaching more in the selling process.

      After all, if you are to sell a product, you don’t just go about teaching without asking people to buy from you.

      There is need to explain the benefits of using the product first before stating the call-to-action!

  • Profile photo of darrellantonio Profile

    Hello Sunday:

    Another great post.

    I personally think we should teach as we sell. This shouldn’t be hard if you are well informed about your product and you believe in that product.

    I personally don’t promote or sell anything I don’t believe in. Super post very detailed, short and simple.

    Thanks for sharing.
    darrellantonio recently posted…16 Stats to Help Reboot Strategy for the rest of the year.My Profile

  • Profile photo of Sherman Smith Profile

    Hey Sunday,

    Teaching is vital when it comes to selling. As a matter of fact, You can teach well enough for the products or services you promote to sell itself.

    When it comes to teaching I like to do is show that I have experience the problems that my audience is currently facing or at least show that I’m aware of their problems.

    This is a great way to connect well with them before I teach them why they’re having the problems, that the problem means, the solutions to the problem and the solution I have for them.

    It creates a nice flow as well as build authority. This will give your market good reasons to keep coming back to your blog.
    Sherman Smith recently posted…Why Solopreneurs Struggle With Generating Blog TrafficMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Sherman,

      Its good to know that your comment reflect my opinion about teaching and selling.

      Teaching is, indeed, vital to learning, and of the best ways to do it is to align yourself and your thought with that of the audience.

      Yes, showing the audience the reason they are having a problem and proffering a solution which the offer provides is the best approach to enlightening and resolving problems the audience.

      Thanks for joining this conversation.

  • Profile photo of Marie Yovcheva Profile

    Hey Sunday,

    Thanks for pointing out the difference between selling and teaching.

    People are online either for entertainment or information. So if you can provide them with the information and teach them something for whatever solution they are looking for, I think they will be more inclined to buy, and if not, at least take a further look into what you’re selling (making them a lead, which could be a sale later on)

    Enjoy your weekend. :)
    Marie Yovcheva recently posted…What I Used To Go From 0 To Over 330 LeadsMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    I have not really considered whether the promotion I make to my audience is aimed at selling or teaching. To be specific, I don’t really care what the audience feels but its a good thing to know ‘teaching’ is more important that ‘selling’. At least, this brings about better response!

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hey Black,

      You should care what the audience feels because if you don’t then you are not going to have anyone paying attention to you for long!

      “Teaching” in presentation and promotion must be encouraged. It inspires the audience to positively respond to your call to action!

  • Profile photo of Carl Profile

    I do teach with my content marketing. This is often put into practice as I always take time to explain concepts and ideas to the target audience.

    In most cases, whenever I do this, I realize that I get good conversion rate!

    For sure, I agree with you on this statement: “Remember, when you teach, your audience will be motivated to buy what they want! But when you sell, the audience will buy what they need!”

  • Profile photo of steven Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    The importance of teaching when it comes to content marketing cannot be over emphasized. when a clear teaching is declared, the audience will be able to take action. Indeed, selling is different from teaching and the latter must be encouraged.

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Steven,

      Yes, teaching the audience about a product precedes their taking action on the offers. Selling alone will not achieve this because it somewhat concentrates on the seller rather than on the needs of the potential buyer!

  • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

    Hey Sunday,

    We must never underestimate the importance of ‘teaching’ the target audience the importance of a piece of content.

    Giving teaching more prominence makes the audience trusting to the content or product delivered than if selling is more emphasized!

  • Profile photo of Paul Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    Indeed, teaching is more important that selling. It is a broader concept which incorporates selling.

    It is a good idea to explain or teach the features and benefits of the product to audience so that selling would be easier!

  • Profile photo of Dennis Seymour Profile

    I base everything around teaching. It’s just a way for me to pay it forward. That’s how I approach my content marketing. There’s a place for selling though and it’s still important to do so.
    Dennis Seymour recently posted…Getting Links is Not EASY, Deal With ItMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Yes Dennis,

      There is a place for teaching and there is a place for selling. If we understand where to merge these two successfully it would be easier to achieve the best attention from the audience in content marketing.

      It is good you acknowledged that despite the importance of selling, every thing about content marketing should be based on teaching!

  • Profile photo of Omar Saady Profile

    Hi Sunday,

    In fact, you can do both of them, selling and teaching on your content marketing adventure. However teaching your audience in your content is much effective for long run business success.

    So for teaching process you need to provide something for free such as Free Online Tools and References – Another valuable resource that many visitors will keep on their bookmark bar is the free tool. A site analyzer, dictionary, forum, or list of websites for research are all great tools for content marketers.

    Thanks so much,
    Omar Saady recently posted…8 Simple Steps to Make Profits With ClICKBANK and YOTUBEMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hi Omar,

      Both selling and teaching are expedient when it comes to business marketing. However, we emphasize that businesses follow ‘teaching’ more than ‘selling’.

      Teaching tends to understand the audience and relate with them while selling tilts towards the ‘promoting’ the product more without recourse to the audience.

      So, it becomes necessary to decipher the fine line between selling and teaching for real!

      Thanks, once again, for joining this conversation!

  • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

    Spot on Sunday!

    Before you even consider selling you have to establish trust. After all, why would anyone buy from a stranger on the internet.

    The only way to create trust is by providing value. Teaching your readers something they did not know.

    If you share new, useful information from me, then I automatically like you. It’s just natural. You’ve made my life better.

    Not only am I more inclined to share your stuff, I’m more inclined to buy from you.

    After establishing that trust, selling offers are actually WELCOME by me. After all, most of what comes from you improves my life.
    Jeff Miller recently posted…5 Tips to Writing Better Blog ContentMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hey Jeff,

      I guess establishing trust first should be ideal way for all content marketers who plan to sell.

      Trust is established by teaching and explanation. It clears any doubt and shows the prospect reason(s) to buy.

      If only those who aren’t getting results with their content marketing learn and practice the art of ‘teaching’ the audience then they would easily be making sales.

      Thanks for lending your voice in this article!

  • Profile photo of David Profile

    I’m not doing either, although I suppose I’m doing both anyway.

    That is to say, most of my content focuses on piquing interest. Of course, it’s mostly useful (with a few whimsical pieces thrown in to keep things light), so it’s teaching. And I do occasionally drop subtle hints that could be considered selling.

    But the goal really is to build interest, to get people talking and sharing and to generally be top-of-mind for people when they need my services.
    David recently posted…Inspiring children’s book publishedMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

      Hey David,

      I appreciate you joining this conversation and leaving your invaluable thoughts!

      When we share posts that inspire and pique interest, engagement occurs. It is only when a ‘teaching’ post is involved that engagement readily makes sense.

      Once again, Thanks for sharing what you share to you content marketing audience!

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