Training vs. education

Marketing spends most of its time and energy in an effort to train people instead of educating them. I know I’ve fallen into this practice more often than I care to admit.

Before we get into too much detail, let’s talk about how these two similar verbs are different.

Train and Educate defined:

Train: to form by instruction, discipline, or drill.

Educate: to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction.

The major difference here is training focuses on the “what and how” while education focuses on “what and why”.

Do you see the distinction?

When you train your consumers, employees, and partners, you are giving them instructions about tactics. I remember getting hired by a company that trained me on numerous scripts, software processes, and activities, but never went a step further to educate me on “why”.

When you educate someone you are helping them learn to think.


My son is two and a half. He takes direction pretty well for a little guy. In fact, he is pretty easy to train. It is a matter of giving him drill-like tasks and directing him to repeat them.

This works fine for short-term success but someone else could train him to do something else and he wouldn’t think twice about it.

Lazy marketing does this all the time. For example. when you are offering low prices as a strategy for creating customer loyalty you are just training the consumer to buy when the price is low. This is false loyalty. What do you do when a competitor moves in and offers a lower price?

You lost a customer because you trained her.


Another way to go about things is working to educate your employees, audience, and partners. It takes more work and can’t be accomplished through a slick advertising campaign.

One of my roles as a dad is to educate my son so he learns how to think and make good decisions. It isn’t enough to give him direction, I need to develop in him understanding.

This process takes time and effort. I have to build trust and lead him down a path of self-discovery.

He has to experience that the “how’s” and “what’s”, have a “why”, and experience a benefit.

Employees, customers, and other people who interact with your organization should also be educated in this way. You are developing them into loyal customers and employees instead of trained ones.

It is time for us to stop being lazy. We should take marketing to the next level and challenge ourselves to a higher standard of helping grow our audience.

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