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Consumer Education

Consumer Education
By Sharon Housley

Consumer Education

Consumer education is something many small software companies tend to overlook. While the benefits of consumer education may not always be obvious, the fact of the matter is that educated customers are good customers, and happier customers. A customer who does not understand an application's capabilities or features is more likely to experience frustration with it, making them less satisfied with your product and also potentially draining your support time. Therefore, we've created a brief guide to consumer education to help you enhance your business.

Formats for Consumer Education

One of the great advantages to education today is that it can be provided in a huge variety of formats. Between text, video, audio, images, PowerPoint files, flash, demos, PDF files, RSS feeds, and knowledgebases and FAQs, you certainly aren't limited in terms of how you can offer consumer education. You can even use rich media to help explain the finer details of your software or application.

About what can consumers be educated?

Product Benefits

One way to educate consumers is to explain to customers the benefits of your product. Such an application of consumer education provides potential customers with important information regarding your software and its uses, and has the added bonus of helping you promote your product.

Overview

You may also wish to provide an overview of software applications. Doing so gives customers a basic sense of what your product does and how it might be applied without demanding extensive research on their part, providing them conveniently with the most essential information about your software.

Feature Explanation

In addition to broad overviews, explanations of more specific features of your software can be of great use to customers. Educating consumers in this way can not only save your customers time and difficulty, but help you cut down on support time as well.

Case Studies

White papers or case studies serve as a more personal way to afford customers information they need. Case studies convey the experience of a consumer, helping other customers or potential customers consider ways in which they might use and benefit from your product.

How can I implement consumer education?

Video Tutorials

Tutorials are a great way to introduce potential customers to software features, and increase their ease of use should they purchase your software. Tutorials are therefore a solid means of creating better-informed and happier customers. While a variety of media can be used to make a tutorial, video tutorials tend to afford optimal clarity and convenience to customers.

Flash Demos

Online flash demos are another great option for increasing your customers' understanding of and ease of use of your software. They can be especially effective in explaining more finite details of software use that a general tutorial may not cover.

FAQ pages and Knowledgebases

Offering an FAQ page or a similar knowledgebase to customers is a basic, helpful, and much-appreciated way to provide consumer education. Inherently, FAQ pages will answer your customers' most common questions, not only saving them time and effort, but sparing you much time on redundant support service.

Wizards

Built-in software wizards are a great way to walk customers through the software setup, saving them time and minimizing any frustrations they may encounter. Consider incorporating an installation wizard into your software to increase customer satisfaction.

Reviews and Testimonials

Customer testimonials, regardless of the media you use to share them, are another excellent agent of consumer education. Hearing from fellow customers who may share their needs and desires regarding software provides customers with a consumer's perspective on your software, and is a more personal way to teach potential customers about the capabilities and possible uses of the software.

PowerPoint Screencasts

Use tools like PowerPoint to help you make screencasts as a visual and textual aid for consumers. Screencasts are another useful, easy-to-follow way to teach customers about the use and features of your software.

PDF

PDF application is another great way to offer consumer education. PDF files are a good choice for conveying textual information because they offer you great freedom in terms of formatting and display. While videos seem to dominate the world of tutorials, demos, and explanations as of late, the clarity and usefulness of text and images as a means of consumer education are not lost.

Educated customers have better understandings of the scope of a product's abilities; they know what an application realistically can do, and what it cannot. Educated customers are not only best able to make full use of a product or software, but also appreciate the transparency and convenience with which businesses that endeavor to educate consumers provide them. Finally, educated consumers drain far less support time than a customer who is less familiar with the software and its capabilities, making consumer education an all-around wise choice for companies.


About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc. http://www.notepage.net , FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.

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This article may be used freely in opt-in publications and websites, provided that the resource box is included and the links are active. A courtesy copy of the issue or a link to any online posting would be greatly appreciated send an email to sharon@notepage.net .

Additional articles available for publication available at http://www.small-business-software.net/free-website-content.htm

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