Time to Think “Education Upgrade”?

BY Celisa Steele

For a while now, I’ve been aware of the blurring of the lines between marketing and education. Think of content marketing, where the marketing offers some substantive value—where the marketing is, in essence, educating.

Last week I read a blog post by John Jantsch over at Duct Tape Marketing that got me thinking about that blur again.

The gist of the post is that, as content marketing has become a common practice, marketers have had to up their game to get folks to fork over an e-mail address or other personal information. And so now the gold standard is a “content upgrade.”

Here’s a little snippet from John Jantsch’s post that explains the concept of the “content upgrade.”

“The basic idea behind a content upgrade is this—Write a really great, useful blog post and then when people show up to read it offer them an ‘upgrade’ to the content in the form of a checklist, video, or case study relevant to the topic in exchange for content [sic—should be contact not content] details.”

So the content upgrade is…education.

The Duct Tape Marketing post offers some tips for how to come up with the content upgrade, but organizations in the business of lifelong learning, continuing education, and professional development already have the content upgrade because they already have educational products and offerings.

Repurpose Your Education As Content Upgrades

Because you have the education products and offerings, it’s not a matter of creating the content for content upgrades. Instead, you have to think about your education products as marketing materials and content upgrades. You have to reverse-engineer from your courses and publications and other educational resources back to the content upgrade and back to the blog post, online catalog page, or e-mail.

It’s a three-step process:

  1. Offer valuable, free, publicly available content.
  2. Offer a free content upgrade on the content in #1, in exchange for contact details.
  3. Then market relevant paid products and services to the contacts collected in #2.

I see huge potential for this kind of marketing approach to expand the reach of an organization’s educational offerings—it can help you communicate in a more targeted way with members, and it provides a path to help others interested in what you have to offer find you.


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