Marketing, Teaching, and the Power of Asking for Help

One of the most difficult things a person can do is asking for help. It should be a simple thing, but most of the time it’s not. The problem with asking for help is that you expose yourself – you become vulnerable! Or in the worst case, you expect to get in emotional debt to that person. An article from The New York Times suggests that there is also a difference in how difficult it is to ask for help, depending on your gender. But how is this connected to marketing and teaching?

What does it take for you to ask someone else to help you? What about your students? Let’s look at how to make it easier to ask for help – for everyone! It becomes easier to ask for help if you:

A picture showing a game of Scrabble and the words connections, people, issues, ideas

Outside of teaching and doing research connected to the teaching that I do, I’m not going to lie, but I’ve taken an interest to do research connected to marketing, content creation, and productivity. One of the things that struck me when I was outside taking a walk a few days ago, was the fact that marketing and teaching have a few things in common.

What Does Marketing Have to Do With Teaching?

One thing mentioned in several podcasts and YouTube channels that I enjoy listening to and follow mention this as a fact for marketing: for someone to buy from you, they have to know, like, and trust you. Then I had this lightbulb moment: this true when it comes to teaching as well.

Now hear me out, because it’s hopefully not going to be as abstract as it might seem at first. But when you think about it, if you don’t know a person, or you don’t feel like you trust this person, then you’re not going to ask this person for help – with anything.

Now this is very true when it comes to the month of May and you’re a teacher, and it’s almost the end of the semester and you know that sooner rather than later, your students will have to pull off doing what they should have done, perhaps way earlier. But now, for some reason, they realize that they actually have to do the work, and they perhaps need to ask you for help.

Create a Connection

Over the years I’ve met quite a few students that sometimes just need to double-check things with me, and then they’re good to go. But then you have others who need to have a proper sit-down, and for you to show them the examples that they need, to move on with their assignments or their learning. But if they don’t trust you? If they don’t feel a connection, or that you’re willing to help them, then why should they ask you for help? It’s not enough that on paper you’re their teacher. It’s not going to be enough that you’ve been around them for almost a year and it’s time to round up the course, they still need to feel like you’re there and that you’re willing to help them out with what they find difficult.

Sometimes it’s difficult to ask for help while in class because you don’t know as a student if your classmates are going to react funny or laugh at you for not getting what they understood in class. And that’s OK, it has to be that way. But when you’re in May or close to the end of a course, you have to be able to ask for help. Hopefully, you feel like you recognize this but if you don’t, well, I’m happy for you. Really I am. Circling back to how teaching and marketing have things in common and this idea of know, like, and trust, well, how do you build this as a teacher?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Get Them To Know You

If you look at it from a marketing perspective and say that you were representative of a brand, how would you get someone to buy from you? One thing would be that you have to present yourself as the expert in what you do. You have to show up and be trustworthy, use your language in a way that they can understand and connect to. I teach Swedish in English and there are some similarities between the two subjects. Of course, they are two separate languages, but there are some rules and things in the classroom that can be applied to both subjects.

One of those things is that you need to capture their (your students’) attention. This goes for marketing as well, so this is the first part that you have to get them to know you. This can be a bit tricky, especially if you’re a new teacher because you have to strike a balance between getting them to know you, and not just as a teacher. There could be students that respect you just for the fact that you’re the teacher, but for some, you need to show up as a human being, rather than just the teacher in the classroom.

The thing about striking a balance is you don’t want to overshare. You don’t want to get too personal, because that could also backfire. It could make your job a bit more difficult because then some people can say that you’re having favorites in the classroom and those kinds of discussions are never amusing to watch or be a part of.

Get Them to Like You

But like I said, what I’ve learned from the podcasts and the YouTube videos that I’ve listened to and watched is that to be good at marketing, you have to get someone through the steps of knowing, liking, and trusting you. In that order. And this is the same when it comes to teaching. First, when starting a new course or a new semester, you have to go through the step of getting people to know you.

To do this you have to share some things not too much, but some personal information can be good for your students to know. From that step, you then move on to the like step and this is not to be confused with you having to turn into their new best friend. That’s not what it’s all about, but you have to show that you understand them when it comes to their problems, for example.

This is something that you’ll notice after a while, especially if you’re having a new class. Even if you’re several teachers that share the responsibility for the class, the students will automatically go to the person that they trust if something has happened that they need your help with. This can take a while, but you’ll most almost certainly know it some time.

Get Them to Trust You

The third thing then is trust, and this is about your students trusting you. Both to know that you know what you’re doing, of course, and this is something that we show in the classroom every day hopefully, but it’s also about us. The thing is if the students don’t trust you to be the expert, or if you’re not able to show them that you know what you’re doing, then why should they listen to you?

Why should they trust you? If you work in a classroom or you teach other students how to give a presentation, then it’s one thing if you mention how a perfect presentation is made, but then they can see that you’re no good at this at all. Or if it’s the opposite, that you’re good at what you do, then you’re giving them a good example just by showing up. That makes an impact. Then they trust you because they know that you know what you’re doing and that means that OK, they can trust that you can help them with this because you know your stuff.

Conclusion

To round this off, if you wish for your students to come to you for help you can apply some of the thoughts from marketing. Get them through the steps of knowing, liking, and trusting you. Some good resources for you to use are for example the Hey Jessica podcast. Jessica Stansberry is an entrepreneur or an infopreneur, but she’s also great fun to listen to and she gives good examples of what you can do and how you can apply different things. The podcast has had a name change and was previously called Grit.

Another good resource is to look up a guy called Matt Ragland. Both he and Jessica are actually on YouTube, but both of them also have podcasts. Now, Matt specializes a bit more in the productivity space, so there may be a reason for me to circle back and mention him at a later point. He has a YouTube channel and he also has a podcast called Connect the Dots where he goes over different kinds of productivity tips and since he’s the creator as well, he also brings up some good ideas when it comes to marketing or preparing so that could be worth checking out too.

Hopefully, you learned something interesting today and just that it can be helpful to study things that are way outside your field sometimes since it can give you new input and you way to view your classroom.

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