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Education, Actually, Is All Around Us

One of my favorite movies is “Love, Actually”, where multi-layered stories overlap to show perspectives of love and relationships. One of my favorite scenes is in the beginning where we see an airport filled with people reuniting. That single location is a perfect microcosm of where relationships of all kind intersect: lovers, family, friends, you name it. Anyone can see that there are stories behind each of those relationships, hence the genesis of the movie.

As a parent, husband, and consumer living in 21st century America, shopping choices and opportunities besiege me in every moment. I see billboards driving to work; I hear sponsorship ads on NPR; I see banner ads on websites; I receive emails; I get calls by honest sales folks trying to present a unique selling proposition; I get invited to read substantive and hard-worked whitepapers; I am, like you, continually presented with perceptions of value, and opportunities to invest time and money into other peoples’ ideas.

But hey, I’m a Marketing Guy. It’s my profession, career, and interest. My team and I are responsible for developing and communicating products and services of value. And as such, I’m continually given opportunities to learn. And so, in every consumer interaction, Education is all around me.

Whether I’m buying a Hershey’s chocolate bar at the check-out, or considering an investment with an online event system for my team, I always try to learn from my consumer interactions. Each time I buy something, I try to say “Why did I buy this? How did those marketers convince me to try? What was their workflow? Are they hoodwinking me, or do they have something of value?” Since there’s a perception of value in every kind of transaction, and since a big part of my profession is to understand how to position our own products’ values, I need to learn as much as I can.

Good example: I received an email from,, which came at the right time. We’re putting on a Direct Mail seminar, and this seemed like an ideal solution to get registrants without spending a lot of money with other services. I forwarded the email to my Online Marketing Manager, who reviewed it, gave it a thumbs-up, and we implemented it. The whole conversion cycle was about 3 hours. Amazing.

So. What did I learn? I learned that business folks (like myself) actually open up unsolicited commercial emails if they look beautiful and well-thought out, and if the timing is right for my needs. The website paid off the interest with credibility and good design, the price is right, the service is reasonable, and the process is easy. Done. Now we’ll go back and see what messaging, design, and product model they developed, and see if we can apply those ideas to our non-competing business.

One new guide I really enjoy is It’s a fantastic site that “dissects” onboarding experiences. Great learning environment, and also shows me how I can better dissect and scrutinize all onboarding experiences, and of course, apply the lessons to our own business.

My class starts this week, and one of my lessons to the students is for them to learn from every consumer interaction. If you’re buying a car…why that car? If you’re choosing some clothes, why those? What drives you to make the consumer decisions you make? And, can you use those ideas and techniques to help your own business?

Take advantage of the smart decisions other folks have made, and learn as much as you can. It’s a really inexpensive way to get a great professional education.

By Christopher Foster, VP of Marketing, Modern Postcard

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