Reach Teach Sell

Reach Teach Sell is a handy framework for practical marketing.

That’s where it began, anyway. 🤔

I started hacking on Reach Teach Sell several years ago. It was a way to wrap my head around how Content Marketing could address different parts of the customer journey.

As time went on, I realized it was even applicable to Product and Community programs.

The Customer Journey

The Customer Journey, or Customer Lifecycle, is a model for understanding the general path of a customer in relation to a business. It follows the path from first impression (awareness) through being a source of new customers (advocacy).

HubSpot has a couple good posts on customer lifecycle and lifecycle management, if you’re interested in diving into that. Anyway…

Reach Teach Sell maps against the customer lifecycle, but instead of focusing on the mindset of the (potential) customer in each phase, the Reach Teach Sell framework focuses on the practical tactics for addressing each phase:

  1. Reach: Show up where potential customers already spend their time.
  2. Teach: Build trust and credibility by answering questions and sharing knowledge.
  3. Sell: Help your customers easily make informed decisions.
  4. Support: Create a great onboarding experience backed by self-serve answers.
  5. Retain: Keep your customers engaged and coming back.
  6. Reward: Recognize & celebrate your customers’ engagement and milestones.
  7. Refer: Help your customers raise awareness and refer more new customers.

Putting Reach Teach Sell to work

Going through each step in more detail:

Reach: Show up where your potential customers already spend their time

You need to show up where your potential customers already spend their attention.

Advertising, sponsorships, PR, co-marketing, organic search engine & social media presence, and other tactical brand-building activities are all a fit. The success metric here is awareness.

That segues into…

Teach: Build trust and credibility by answering questions and sharing knowledge

Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing slide in here.

You want to get people consuming your content (view your posts, read your articles, watch your videos) and opting in (following you on Insta, signing up for your newsletter, subscribing to your YouTube channel).

The success metric is engagement.

Through repeat exposure to your content, some of these folks may consider buying from you. Which brings us to:

Sell: Help your customers easily make informed decisions

Your potential customers are going to do their own research before they make a decision, so give them what they need to decide you’re the right choice.

Landing page design, UX/UI, copywriting, creative, conversion optimization, testimonials & social proof, etc… are all a fit for that.

The success metric is whatever maps to a sale. That could be leads, new customers, or new purchases. It depends on your business.

Support: Create a great onboarding experience backed by self-serve help

Are your customers using what they’ve bought? If they’re running into trouble, are they finding the solutions they need?

If you’re working with a digital product, look at how successful companies handle their onboarding experience. UserOnboard has a solid collection of onboarding teardowns.

If you’re working with physical products, look at every step of the customer experience, from purchase confirmations through packaging. I really like Shopify’s blog post on the subject of product packaging for ecommerce.

Whatever the case, if your customers run into problems, there should be a self-serve resource center on your website.

My ideal setup is a combo of inspirational content (blog), in-depth answers (knowledge base), and peer discussions (support forums), all inter-linked.

The success metric is activation and support volume.

Retain: Keep your customers engaged and coming back

You want your customers to stick around, because acquiring a new customer costs more than keeping an existing one.

Retention usually intersects with Customer Marketing programs. On one end, you have things like reminders about expiring payment methods. On the other, you have the exciting stuff, like big promotions or special events.

Depending on your business, the success metric may include renewals or reduced churn.

Related: Customer Marketing Strategy (HubSpot)

An easy starting point is a monthly customer newsletter. Every month, email customers (who’ve opted in!) to tell them about new products/services or upcoming promotions.

For customers who aren’t ready to make another purchase, include other useful items in the newsletter, like timely advice that’s relevant to your business. (Here’s where you can slide in some of your original content!)

Reward: Recognize & celebrate your customers’ engagement and milestones

The more active and engaged customers you have, the more opportunities there are for recognition. This is my favourite part of the Reach Teach Sell framework because it’s a byproduct of everything that’s come before.

Customer loyalty programs are a nice intersection between Retain and Reward, because they address both intrinsic motivations (e.g., status) and extrinsic motivations (e.g., discounts).

The success metric is number of recognized customers.

Related: Customer Loyalty Programs (HubSpot)

Beyond loyalty programs, you can do things like celebrate the anniversary of when your customers made their first purchase, send seasonal gifts, or surprise and delight with spontaneous freebies and experiences.

Refer: Help your customers raise awareness and refer more new customers

The Reach Teach Sell framework ends with closing the loop, bringing us back to Reach, this time by leveraging the word-of-mouth of your existing customers.

That’s the logic behind Refer-A-Friend, User Generated Content (UGC) and Influencer programs. Adding to that, customer success stories, case studies, and testimonials are all great tactics for bridging the gap between Reward and Refer. Not to mention that they make for great assets to bolster your Teach and Sell content!

With a bit of heavy lifting, you could add this to a customer loyalty program, pairing the different referral activities with different loyalty point values. Those points, in turn, could “level up” the customer, or be redeemed for discounts on future purchases.

The success metric could be awareness or new customer referrals, depending on your business and the activities you pursue.

Applying to Product and Community

How is Reach Teach Sell relevant to Product Management and Community Management? By swapping out “customer” with “user” or “member”.

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s take a peek…

StepMarketingProductCommunity
ReachReach potential customersReach potential usersReach potential members
TeachBuild credibility & trust with potential customersBuild credibility and trust with potential usersBuild credibility & trust with potential members
SellDecide to purchaseDecide to useDecide to join
SupportCustomer onboarding & on-demand helpUser onboarding & on-demand helpMember onboarding & on-demand help
RetainCustomer engagement & new purchasesUser engagement & product usageMember engagement & participation
RewardCelebrate customer success, milestonesCelebrate user success, milestonesCelebrate member success, milestones
ReferNew customer referralsNew user referralsNew member referrals

I started working on the Reach Teach Sell framework as a means for wrapping my head around Content Marketing. As my career’s progressed, so has the framework. Take it, run with it, and make it something of your own – and let me know if you do. 🙂

P.S. here’s a brainstorming template in Google Sheets to help you get started.

Have a great week…!

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