“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
The online learning industry has experienced exponential growth for years; and it shows no signs of slowing down. Today, the online course industry generates over $107 billion annually.
Any brand, business, or entrepreneur willing create learning materials that reveal the knowledge they have collected over a lifetime stands to gain tremendous profits and widespread recognition. Entire marketplaces are developing around the idea of knowledge commerce.
It’s worth noting that knowledge is different from information, Knowledge is akin to wisdom; it comes from direct experience and hands-on practice. In the realm of knowledge commerce, the adage, “You get what you pay for,” is a steadfast principle.
Knowledge commerce is the method of creating premium content offerings rich in valuable wisdom that people pay to access. This content comes in a variety of formats.
We will now explore several of these content offerings that produce bountiful gains in brand awareness and lead generation.
If you’re ready to share your knowledge with the world and elevate your brand to thought leader status, check out these powerful knowledge commerce options.
#1: Online Courses
Online courses are one of the most popular, powerful, and productive means to enter the knowledge commerce arena. Online courses typically teach individuals how to do something from beginning to end. This is what makes online courses more valuable than “how to” blogs that just skim the surface. For this reason, an online course business can be a business unto itself, effectively becoming a self-contained brand.
Online courses typically consist of a variety of materials that help to communicate knowledge in various formats to best describe processes and keep “students” engaged. Many course creation services allow for modules to consist of written, audio-based, and video content; though, video is likely to be the most effective across scenarios.
Online courses also vary in length. This means that you can create a deep, rich, and lengthy offering that provides enrollees everything they need to know, or you can construct a shorter free offering that is used primarily for lead generation purposes. All you need to do is implement an email sign up form, and with the proper promotion, you’ll gain heightened awareness and a steady stream of potential new customers.
#2: Case Studies
Original research is an incredibly valuable piece of content for brands as well as for those who seek such knowledge. Spreading the word on this type of content can generate tons of new followers, email addresses, and revenue.
Case studies are such a beneficial piece of content for an organization to tout because it often breaks down the processes a business went through to achieve a desirable result, and then provides consumers of the content with the means to take action and achieve similar outcomes.
As was discussed with online courses, people are over basic how-to-do-this articles that merely provide a cursory overview of a process; they want real, tangible proof and in-depth descriptions of systems to sink their teeth into. Case studies can offer these attributes in spades.
The power of this type of content is reflected in the fact that research shows that 71 – 77% of B2B buyers claimed case studies to be their most influential form of content.
The most important thing to keep in mind with case studies is that you must keep the information actionable and engaging. If you want to draw people into your funnel with a case study, you’ll need to break down your processes and results in an entertaining way.
Drew McLellan has mastered this feat by approaching case studies as “…the marketing version of Aesop’s Fables,” meaning that he structures his content in the form of archetypal stories that resonate with everyone.
Webinars are another powerful modality used in the knowledge commerce world for hikes in brand awareness and lead generation.
Part of the massive appeal surrounding webinars is that that they are like a miniature form of online courses – they normally feature an abundance of hard-to-obtain wisdom. Moreover, webinars utilize video formats; and since video is such an appealing digital offering, this too helps to attract prospects and customers. Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Survey revealed that 66% of marketers claimed webinars as one of the most powerful methods of lead generation. This is precisely why webinar usage increased by 35% in 2016.
Webinars can also be a free or paid offering. If you would prefer to generate leads and awareness, opt for the free model (with email signup). If you’re ready to throw your hat in the middle of the knowledge commerce ring, you can go the paid route. Just do be aware that if you choose to produce a paid webinar with minimal leads and awareness, you might not get the biggest turnout.
#4: Contests or Giveaways
Contests are an incredible lead gen and awareness strategy; however, they do not exactly cater to the knowledge commerce crowd on their own. To bridge this gap, the prize should be a paid content offering (like one of those mentioned above).
This works out quite well considering that for a contest to be a success, the prize needs to target a very specific group of people; those who are likely to be interested in the brand’s other offerings and become customers.
This is how you gain relevant leads instead of a pile of useless email addresses.
Assuming you promote the contest properly across social media (using granular targeting options via adverts) you are likely to grab gobs of new email addresses and followers that you can then enter into your marketing campaigns for various other knowledge-based offerings like online courses, webinars, and other acumen-boosting contributions.
In many ways, knowledge commerce is the future of online business. Most companies already need to be their own content mills and media companies. The next step is to become a learning hub for the entirety of your industry. Begin producing and publishing the above forms of content and you can claim the top thought leader position in your niche.