Educated consumers are loyal customers—no doubt about it. The more they know about your product or service, including various uses and best practices, the more they will know they need it. Taking category education a step further by offering in-depth training creates new opportunities for your marketing efforts.

Some companies are afraid of educating customers — afraid that informed consumers will stop buying from them. In fact, the opposite is true. Empowering your consumers with knowledge actually makes them better customers because it reinforces the message that you value and trust them. Trust is absolutely integral in any relationship, but when it comes to sales, you can’t do without it. If you don’t trust your customers, how can you expect them to trust you?

Providing this type of support is not as difficult as you may think. There are several ways to handle it, each with its own level of interpersonal interaction. It is a good idea to offer choices, giving each individual the opportunity to select the method of training that works best for him or her.

Before you decide on the types of training, you need to know your customers. How old are they? How busy are they? What keeps them awake at night? Really nail down the description of your target audience so you can know the type and category of training they need or want.

The least interactive method is an email course. Allowing customers to opt in to receive training via email enables them to determine the most convenient times. They will appreciate the ability to review the course material at their leisure. Always include an email address or phone number (or both) in case they have questions.

A webinar can be interactive when presented in real time, especially if viewers with questions can call or email during the session. If you tape your webinar ahead of time, or leave it for others to review later, it can still be a powerful and informative tool.

A conference call is similar to a webinar but can be good for customers who do not have Internet access. (Yes, there are still a few folks out there who don’t go online.) You can provide a handout prior to the call and offer it in a print or electronic version. When it is time for the call, participants call in and follow along with their handouts.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store or office, then a seminar may be a good fit for some of your customers. Set it up like an information-packed soiree with appetizers, drinks, and a meet and greet prior to the training portion of the event. This has the added benefit of allowing your customers to meet some of your sales personnel and upper management face to face — something they may not normally have a chance to do.

One-on-one training has long been a favorite of many companies, but it may not always be feasible to accomplish. Typically, this type of training is done in the customer’s home or business location, and your trainer travels there. On the upside, the interaction is very personal and the method is a solid relationship-builder.

Decide which educational approaches offer the best fit for your customers and your company. By employing two or three of these training types, you can provide support and instill trust, which means customer loyalty and increased sales.