Are You Selling or Teaching your Audience in 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.




  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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

    • 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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!”

  7. 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,

    • 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!

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. Hi Sunday,

    I never heard of this idea of teaching versus selling. Maybe I am misunderstanding but teaching is kind of part of the selling process? You are teaching about the benefits of your product, service etc… and then the selling is the call to action?

    You’ve given me a lot to think about. I heard a lot of copywriters emphasize the importance of benefits. That people are motivated by benefits and not necessarily the features. Therefore we need to be teaching these benefits.

    If we do a good job of teaching the benefits then that does the selling for us and we just need a call to action which would be the selling part. However we are to focus much more on the teaching than the selling.

    Thank you for this insightful post Sunday.

    Take care my friend,


  11. It’s all teaching. Even on my lead generation pages, I am adding a teaching element as I update each page.

    I’ve figured that people don’t need to be “sold”. If they come to my pages, it’s because they want to buy. The only sales job I need to do is to convince them that I can deliver for them.

    Teaching says, “I can deliver.” Here are three ways it does that:

    It builds trust, because people don’t like feel like they are being sold to.

    It shows that I know what I am talking about, that I am not come fly-by-night.

    It gives them a moment to feel familiar with me, like they are not dealing with strangers.

    So, I figure that the more I can explain on a lead generation page, the more leads I will earn. It seems to be paying off, at least to some degree.
    David recently posted…Is there a hidden writer in you?My Profile

  12. Hi Sunday,

    I agree with those who say you should be doing both.

    I mean, what’s the point of teaching only without making money?

    You are right about doing more of teaching with that blog post, video, ebook, infographic, etc., than selling though.

    And selling after teaching is the right way to go about it. I would buy from someone who has offered me some good training anyday.