How to Overcome Skepticism

Tutorial Marketing

Many people think the main barrier to online marketing success is a lack of traffic.

But it’s really a lack of trust.

There’s a million ways to get traffic, whether you pay for it with money or pay for it with time.

But the question remains as to whether you can convert that traffic into actual sales.

Even when your offer is great, and your copy sings, and your order process is painless, one thing stands in the way of the sale.

A lack of trust.

You can thank your marketing predecessors for that.

People have been trained to be skeptical. They are conditioned to NOT believe you.

This is why traditional “one-shot-or-nothing” copywriting MUST contain testimonials for social proof and a rock-solid money-back guarantee or free trial, in addition to the right compelling benefits for the prospect.

And guess what… you’ll still need all that stuff, even when you build a relationship first. But when you take time to build that relationship, you’ll have many shots at making the sale, and hopefully your sales page is merely skimmed when the order or inquiry is actually made.

Plus, you’ll get those all too important subsequent sales.

This is why the money is in the list.

And this is also why tutorial marketing is the smartest way to market effectively online.

A tutorial begins the relationship (a free comprehensive introduction to your subject).

Tutorials maintain the relationship (your regular blog posts).

And eventually, you’ll offer one or more specialized tutorials that will convert higher than normal numbers of readers into paying customers or clients.

The life-time value of a customer and the concurrent word-of-mouth referrals they provide is so much higher than what you get for reaching for someone’s wallet at “hello.” It seems ridiculous to even consider old-school “closing” techniques, especially in this environment.

Oh, and the fact that tutorials can solve your traffic problem at the same time is just the icing that makes this particular cake that much sweeter.

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  1. Always on the money Brian. This Consumer fear is stronger on the net—fear of getting ripped off yes, but also fear of giving you their personal info, fear of giving their credit card number. Once fear is overcome with sincerity, honesty & all that builds trust & comfort (guarantee, testimonials, maybe even your smiling face & your word—easier to trust a real person who puts their reputation on the line), you can sell because then, hopefully, your customer wants to be sold.

  2. I agree. You’re building up a trust account with your prospect in all your dealings with them. To build the account where they trust you takes small incremental deposits. But it can all suddenly be withdrawn if you don’t stick to your word, or you deliver less than great service.


  3. The copyblogger is becoming a great place to surf and I have started a blog posting daily with great inspiration and hope to become like you soon.

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  4. Great post! In my brain, what you are really talking about is white papers.

    These are free documents that help start a relationship with a prospect and often are educational in nature (like a tutorial).

    They offer that ability to fill the free hole and at the same time are perceived to be highly valuable to prospects (esp. in B2B markets).

    I cover this extensively on my blog.


  5. This is a very cogent post. Another reason why your blog is top of my favourites list. I’m off to vote at Technorati right now.

  6. Michael, one of the ways to market with tutorials is indeed white papers, which we will be covering soon.

  7. I would add to Michael’s suggestion that what you are REALLY talking about is being genuine and being real. I’m not a marketer or advertising person (though I came dangerously close once!), but as a customer (and a person) I look for authenticity.

  8. To Christine’s comments. There really must be no apparent salesmanship going with this kind of marketing. This really flies in the face of traditional marketing methods. But it really does work.

    In an era where everyone is trying to sell me everything, I DO care about trust.

    A good way to build trust is to provide something perceived to be valuable–at no cost.

  9. Perhaps what you really mean, rather than coining a new meme of “tutorial marketing” is “writing about something genuinely useful and helpful”.

    I think 5 years ago, we’d be calling it “article marketing”, before the blogospheric explosion, and while we were in the middle of the ‘newsletter’ phase in marketing circles.

    Otherwise, a great point to be made. 😉

    t @ dji

  10. Wow, are you people reading my thoughts lately? Two recent articles I have posted to my blog lately have had to do with white papers and honesty.

    The honesty article came about after rereading a book by Dan Kennedy in which he said to admit your flaws, shortcomings and even the positives of your competition up front.

    Not only does being up front about your flaws make you more credible, it also grabs your reader’s attention because they KNOW you have to have a super benefit coming soon, and it helps you position your product.

    I have just added copyblogger to my list of links and will be coming back here again.

    Thanks for the great info.

    Charles Brown
    Freelance Copywriter

  11. Great post, but why stop at online marketing? What you are talking about is equally valid off-line.

    It is safe to say that the trust factor is going to increase in importance with the explosion in communications.

    It’s the same old problem though; it takes time and effort to build relationships. It takes investment greater than money.

    I think that this is where it often goes off the rails. Not too many people have the patience. They want a campaign that starts crancking out leads the moment it goes live.

  12. Have been in the process of revising our site because, even though business has been great, the site needs a major revision to be fantastic.

    One of the missing incredients, beside being confusing, is trust. Lack of trust is not only created by the confusing layout but also the words used.

    A very excellent article on trust. The way you state it gives me more trust in your site.

    Now to venture into some more of your articles.

    Have a fantastic day.

  13. It is a hard thing to connect with people when they are simply looking at a website, that face to face interaction is missing. So you have to try to get across to people in a way that does not overwhelm them with information, which is a hard thing indeed. Thanks for the article and the reminder to try harder.