Focus on Education to Secure Customers

Companies use a variety of teaching approaches to turn potential business into committed customers
Focus on Education to Secure Customers
The Liner Guys in London, Ontario, heavily relies on visuals when teaching customers about its pipe lining services. “You can explain it all day long, but when someone sees what a finished pipe looks like, there’s an ‘aha’ moment,” says co-owner Steve Stefanidis.

You can have top-of-the-line equipment and plenty of skill and expertise. But if customers aren’t even aware of what you can do for them — or just misinformed — all of that doesn’t matter. Sometimes customer education needs to be the first priority.

“It’s the first step we need to do before we can actually work, because human nature is what it is. People do things they’re comfortable with,” says Todd Grafenauer of the important role up-front education has played in growing the trenchless service offerings of his company, Murphy Pipeline. “Why are there communities that only do opencut? Because that’s the way they’ve always done it.”

Here are different approaches companies have taken to educate their customer base.

Show me, don’t tell me

The Liner Guys in London, Ontario, heavily relies on visuals when teaching customers about its pipe lining services.

“You can explain it all day long, but when someone sees what a finished pipe looks like, there’s an ‘aha’ moment,” says co-owner Steve Stefanidis.

The company has about a dozen videos showcasing no-dig technology on its website — some that it has produced and others from a vendor it uses, LMK Technologies. Stefanidis says he also shows customers samples of lined pipes, including one where the liner can slide out of the section of pipe to get a better view, and cracked pipes so that customers can see how the resin in the liner fills in the voids.

“Visuals are always key,” Stefanidis says. “It’s the best way to show off your product.”

An open job site

Murphy Pipeline, too, specializes in trenchless methods, and although it’s become a fairly well-established market, many people are still not aware of the benefits. So education is a central part of the company’s operations. Grafenauer says one of Murphy Pipeline’s most effective education tactics is holding “open days” at actual job sites and sending out invitations so potential customers can come see the technology firsthand.

“There’s tremendous value in that because not only do they see the method work, but they can also look at the areas where work has already been completed and see the kind of environment we left behind,” Grafenauer says.

While he can’t put a hard figure on it, Grafenauer says there’s a direct correlation between the amount of work Murphy Pipeline gets in a certain area and the number of open days that have been held there. Still, it’s a single method in what Grafenauer says is a multistep approach to education.

“The open day is an important step, but there’s a lot of work we do beyond that I believe is critical,” he says. “Maybe it’s the initial phone call with a potential client. We also get a ton of emails — just basic questions — and it’s important to get back to those people and spend the time to make sure they have the answers they were looking for.”

Strong web presence

Since the internet is a top research tool for so many people, education can simply be about maintaining a highly visible online presence. That’s been Tom Richards’ main strategy for educating potential customers about his polyurea spray-coating technology, especially since it’s a more specialized, niche service.

“Engineers are always doing research, and if you’re the only one around who does a particular service, you’re going to come up quickly in searches. That’s how people find me. They just go on the internet and do their homework,” says Richards, owner of Pipe Tech USA in Sacramento, California.

For that reason, he makes sure Pipe Tech’s website is in tune with search algorithms.

“We’ve worked quite a bit with our IT guy to make sure that our site is available and people can find us really quickly, and that we’re mobile app friendly,” Richards says. “How else are we going to build a market? It’s not like we can only advertise in the newspaper, or make a TV or radio commercial and have it broadcast around the world. The most effective way to do it nowadays is on the internet. That’s the only way to educate people that this technology exists, and then they just have to do their research.”

If customer education is a vital part of your business, what methods have you found to be the most effective? Comment below or email kyle.rogers@colepublishing.com.



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.