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This week Bryan Gee, Director of Education and Training at the Tensar International Corporation, joined us for a chat! His is a new role there, and it was added – as we found out – for a good reason.
1. WHY TENSAR ADDED A DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
For years, Tensar has invested extensively in R&D, as well as in data collection so as to quantify the ROI of their products. Over time, they noticed a key need in the world of their customers.
Tensar realized that their customers needed to better understand the pros and cons of the different products available in the marketplace.
Enter Bryan. He educates prospects on the benefits of Tensar’s name brand services, as compared to other “off brand” options. Their customers vary. Distributors make up their primary personas, but there are direct end users in the mix, too.
As we learned in last week’s episode with Tyson Ferraro, education as a means of marketing proves particularly valuable. Training distributors, who have more marketing assets and can be a great help to Tensar, goes a long way. Bryan’s training has a major impact on future sales. Whether that impact is good or bad can depend on his performance.
2. HOW EDUCATION RELATES TO MARKETING
Usually, education and demos are usually better left to deeper portions of the sales funnel. However, marketing to engineers means getting a bit more in depth at the start.
Engineering minds naturally want to know more technical facts about how which products function best. They’re less interested how much money they can save by choosing lower-priced ‘generic’ options.
When asked if he considers himself a marketer, Bryan points out that all content marketers are educators, and vice versa.
All marketers employ education as a means of marketing, but people generally perceive it as entertainment. Bryan’s role represents just one aspect of the marketing department. They both want to differentiate their role in the market. Differentiation takes education, which is why Bryan focuses on training everyone – even Tensar’s own staff.
“We have to teach the performance differential…so customers understand what they’re giving up by taking the cheaper product.”
One challenge that Bryan faces is the emergence of contractors as more prominent customers in the market. That means that he needs to push some of his more in-depth training further down into the funnel rather than keeping it at the top.
He kept a lot of demos at the top of the funnel for a long time because “we’re a bunch of engineers talking to engineers.” But contractors are harder to find and they’re not as quick to dive into the mechanics of the products at first glance. They do tend to care more about pricing unless given more information about the quality of the service they’re considering.
Regardless of whether Bryans customer is an engineer or a contractor, the challenge of disrupting the market and getting their attention is the same.
“We learn as much as we can about what they’re working on, then we go in and…try to teach them something new. We have to teach them something new.”
3. EDUCATION’S EFFECT ACROSS MULTIPLE TECHNIQUES
Tensor has experimented with a lot of marketing tools across the country. They’ve used face-to-face interaction, content marketing on their website, and live seminars and broadcast webinars.
“If we raise the level of technical knowledge in the marketplace, that benefits us because we’ve got the best solution… Ultimately if we don’t teach the customer something new, we don’t win.”
As always, Bryan tries to avoid leading such conversations by gushing about his own company’s products or services. They focus on solving the challenges of their customers first and foremost.
Paying attention to customer needs is vital. Just being synonymous with a product (Tensar is the name-brand in geogrids and other site development solutions) isn’t enough anymore.
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