Free Online Marketing Course – 3 lessons from "Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting web pages"
This is the time of year we tend to look back and see what we've learned. As we look back at 2021, I realize many of my lessons (and lessons I've heard from our audience) revolved around the the free digital marketing course by MECLABS Institute. So in this article, I'll share those lessons with you.
Lesson #1: Overcoming your own self interest is key to digital marketing success
Like many free online marketing courses, "Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting web pages" includes tools marketers can use to improve their digital marketing.
One of those tools is The Marketer's Mindset Checklist. Question #6 of that checklist is, "Am I still seeing the page through my selfish interest or have I positioned myself to focus on the customer’s interest first?”
View your landing pages and calls to action through the customer's lens, not your own
"After I read this key question on your LinkedIn post, I realized that our new call to action was viewing the page/CTA through OUR lens, and not the readers'/prospects' interest first," said Thomas Anthony, Co-founder, emlovz.
After he read that question in the checklist, Anthony took a new look at a call-to-action (CTA) he had been using. For weeks, the CTA copy at the bottom of the dating service's website read “Learn About Our Coaching Program”. It was underperforming.
"Your key question helped me realize that we needed to re-write the CTA copy to focus on the readers' best interest. Now it says 'Reach YOUR Dating Goals Here' making them feel more included and that we care about them, because we do!" Anthony said.
Creative Sample #1: Call to action informed by online marketing course
When I asked Anthony about the results from this change, he said that bookings have gone up since the team updated the CTA, but the sample size is too small right now to determine that the new CTA was the driver of that increase and how big of an effect the new CTA had (so be on the lookout for more on this story in a future MarketingSherpa article).
View your SEO content through your customer's lens, not your own
This question is particularly resonant for me at this very moment, while I write this article. Look, we're all marketers here, I trust I can just shoot straight with you. This article is being written for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes. However, I can't just write an article only for SEO. Any article we publish has to actually help our readers.
So here I am, writing this article in an SEO tool. It has a list of keywords down the right-hand side – free online marketing courses, social media marketing, online marketing courses, free online courses, etc.
Every time I type one of those words into this article, my content score increases. The number goes higher. The dial moves from red, to orange, to green.
It makes me realize why there is so much mediocre content online. It reminds me of when I read my daughter's high school essays. I told her there was far too much filler. She said, "Dad, I am writing for a word count."
It goes against the hallmark of good writing, according to William Strunk Jr., co-author of the seminal Elements of Style – “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all sentences short or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
So in this case, a search engine algorithm is my self interest. Getting that content score higher is my self interest. But Question #6 in The Marketer's Mindset checklist stops me in my tracks and reminds me, I need to focus on the customer's interest first.
Because it doesn't matter how many people find this article if it doesn't help them, it is just more online noise.
Lesson #2: Focus your marketing strategy on the "why"
This lesson works at two levels.
Internally, don't begin with the "what" (the digital marketing tactics), always start with the "why" (the marketing strategy).
Externally, in everything from inbound marketing to online advertising, don't just focus on the "what" (the product or service), always tell your communicate to your customers about the "why" (the value proposition).
"Flight McGlaughlin and Daniel Burstein are like a therapist-professor duo cocktailed into the ultimate marketing guruship. MECLABS Institute teaches me more than the "what" – it teaches me the "why" and "how," said Mario Cacciottolo, PR & Branding Manager, SBO.net.
"We don't optimize a web page. We optimize the sequence of thought." – Flint McGlaughlin
"The best words that have stuck with me? 'We don't optimize a web page. We optimize the sequence of thought.' Thanks to the video The Marketer's Self Image, I'm working with my team to make our landing pages more psychologically engaging. At 4:25 of the video, McGlaughin illustrates a detailed step-by-step process on how one single landing page must entice a user to buy into a series of 'micro-yeses' to commit to one 'macro yes,'" Cacciottolo said.
The Value Proposition: The central reason why customers should buy from your company
When some marketers here the term "value proposition," they think of brand awareness or a business case. MECLABS defines the value proposition as the answer to a "why" questions from the customer's perspective (see Lesson #1) – "If I am your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than any of your competitors?"
As a public relations (PR) & Branding Manager, Cacciottolo has come to view his organization as more than just an online hub for sports fans. The business seeks to engage with the psychology of its users. He is exploring deeper ways to educate users and tap into reasons why they would want to return to the website more than once or twice a week.
"In the [course's] podcast The Marketer as Philosopher, Daniel Burstein emphasizes that we business leaders must offer our customers 'help instead of hype' (32:16 in Episode #3)," Cacciottolo said.
As a result, the team has been creating pages specific to countries and the people who live in them. They've realized that with diverse cultures comes a diverse train of thought. Everyday, the continue to identify the priorities of their users.
For instance, they ask questions like, "Do people from this culture follow a team? Or are they more loyal to a specific player?"
Moreover, they are revising their language to be more educational so they represent the organization as a thought leader and consumer partner, rather than being the notorious boss who tells consumers what to do and what not to do.
Lesson #3: True marketing is about more than social media, search engine marketing, and marketing analytics – true marketing taps into philosophy
When Flint first told me the title of his book –"The Marketer as Philosopher" – I gotta admit, it didn't ring a bell for me. If I had to write a similar book, mine would probably be more along the lines of "The Marketer as Stand-up Comedian."
But as I cracked the leather on the book and started to read – and as I've had these conversations with Flint all these many years – I have grown to appreciate this approach.
According to E.J. Craig in Philosophy and Philosophies, "a philosophy is a creed, a set of beliefs to live by; it provides a purpose encompassing and overriding the minor and trivial concerns of the everyday."
And the more I've thought about it, the more I think this is exactly what we need, folks. I'm sure you will find plenty of free online marketing courses that teach digital marketing skills like social media marketing, inbound marketing, and online advertising.
And if the marketing courses you find about these topics are good, I suggest you take them.
However, to be successful marketing professionals or entrepreneur – and to live a successful life – we need more than surface-level marketing skills.
You need that creed. That set of beliefs to live by. And you certainly need to rise above the minor and trivial fire drills screaming for your attention every day.
In other words, you should aspire to become a marketer-philosopher.
The deep philosophical approach to a new way of marketing
I'll give the final words in this article (and on this topic) to a student of the free course, who can explain this approach from the viewpoint of someone practicing executing marketing strategies in the trenches day after day, year after year.
"So far the biggest takeaway I have gotten from the FastClasses in the course is the deep, philosophical approach to a completely new way of marketing. So many of us marketers have focused on the 'how.' And many of us have utilized tactics that are dark and manipulative out of desperation. It is so refreshing to see a course that is teaching the high road. How to market based on legitimate claims and express these claims in a succinct way that matches the thought sequence of the prospect. You can even see this approach in every aspect of the course. Even using the term 'prospect' as opposed to 'target market' is telling of the philosophical approach," said Gabriel Bertolo, Founder, Radiant Elephant.
"In Session #3, the breakdown of the funnel, and the concept that people aren't falling into the funnel but falling out of it, is eye-opening. This makes so much more sense. We are battling gravity and need to communicate in a way that creates micro-yeses that pull the user up the funnel," Bertolo said.
"As a marketer, it's so easy to focus on the clicks and forget that through every process the prospect is calculating the perceived cost and this leads to a micro yes or no. Is the value of the content worth more to me than the time it takes me to read it? Is giving my email address for a 20% off coupon worth it? Is the free trial appealing enough to outweigh the cost of the time it takes setting it up and trying it out? To overcome this we must determine the value proposition but also integrate it into every aspect of the process," he said, discussing lessons from the course.