Working for Actinic, we have a pretty diverse set of customers selling some truly weird and wonderful products. However, regardless of the product or service being sold I always come up against the question of online marketing and best practice.Looking back at the last few conversations I have had on the subject, most merchants I speak to use online marketing for one thing: sales. While this may be fairly obvious and there is certainly nothing wrong with it, I believe a lot of people are missing a great opportunity -- why not try communicating something other than cold hard sell? Let me explain a little further.Most retailers sell things they have some type of connection with. I have a relative, Andy who has a very successful sportswear business; he’s a former tennis coach. In his bricks and mortar store people often come in just to chat about the latest advances in running shoes or tips to beat the boss at next week’s golf tournament. While this may sound like a waste of time, Andy values building a relationship with customers as the most essential thing to his business. Customers come in for his advice and may end up walking away with a new pair of Nikes, and how to get the most out of them.But often this product knowledge fails to come across online.With your next marketing campaign why not use your product and industry knowledge to help inform and educate your customers? If you want to keep it product-focused detail the interesting features and benefits instead of focusing just on that sale. Or why not try emails with some useful tips or a follow up to check to see how recent customers are getting on with their purchase?No matter how diverse your products are I bet you’re the expert on them, helping to educate and inform is the best type of marketing there is.