It’s officially planning time for education marketers as we all look to turn up the volume for the January – April sales season. And while it’s always valuable to look at the performance metrics of your promotions and campaigns from this year’s back to school and fall programs, there might be more to the story than just those “historic” metrics. We think when you’re driving, it’s always good to check the rear view mirror before switching lanes, but even more important to look forward so you can inject some strategic thinking about what’s ahead.
So, as you’re planning your education market programs, it’s a good idea to gather educators’ insights and projections about what’s ahead for the rest of the school year and what’s changing in their planning for the start of the 2019-20 school year. Here are some concrete steps to consider as you’re building and perhaps finalizing your spring education sales and marketing programs:
If you’re curious about integrating authentic educator voices into your marketing audits and plans, let’s explore some options together.
#educatorvoices #educationmarketresearch #educationmarketingagency
by Linda Winter
Remember when webinars were a novelty? It wasn’t all that long ago. But now, educators could spend hours each day in front of their screens, listening and watching (we hope) one webinar after another.
Does that mean webinars are ‘over?’
Have they been left in the dust by videos on YouTube and Instagram, and ‘content’ marketing on social media channels? Not so fast. These virtual events still deliver visibility, leads, thought leadership, and yes, even valuable content to use across your marketing channels. Even better, they have long legs. Archived webinars capture engagement long after the ‘live’ date. Here are some planning tips and ideas to launch your thinking about integrating webinars into your marketing and communications mix.
Need actionable leads sooner rather than later?
We’ve developed and managed webinar programs for many of our clients and they’ve boosted their lead- and demand-generation results measurably. Interested? Let’s talk about options and next steps.
#welovewebinars #webinarswork #educatorslovewebinars #educationmarketresearch #educationmarketingagency
The answer is yes…but in our experience, the product/solution comes first. The company or organization brand is the support in the decision-making mix.
Educators are world-class problem solvers. They’re constantly looking for ways to solve specific instructional or, in the case of administrators, systems or operational challenges. So when there’s a need to help students understand polynomial equations, or improve reading comprehension in the lower grade, they look first for solutions to those issues. Then, if the solutions come from a brand they know, or better yet, trust, there just may be an opportunity to move from interest to a purchase order.
When you’re building messaging, positioning, and promotional strategies in the K-12 market, here are some things to keep in mind:
If your product and company messaging and positioning are at early stages or could use a bit of a “makeover”, we can help. Let’s get the conversation started.
Like a growing number of people, I use the Nextdoor network to keep tabs with my neighborhood news. Last week among the posts about lost pets (including a parakeet and a turtle), new restaurants in the area and other neighborhood happenings was a post titled “I am a new teacher.”
Her requests were simple and straightforward
She asked for advice and tips from any veteran teachers in in the area. She wanted to know about the most affordable places to get supplies and decorations for her classroom. She wanted to hear from parents about their hopes for their children this school year.
What happened next was a little bit of magic. Teachers in the neighborhood responded with lots of practical advice and tips including helpful books, classroom management tricks and techniques, and sources for free instructional materials. The suggestions were authentic and heartfelt… everything from “wear comfortable shoes” to “buy Airborne” and community members rallied to offer bins, supplies, and even cupcakes for the faculty. Several people volunteered to help her get her classroom ready before students arrive for the first day of school.
The point? New teachers need a community of support and encouragement and as education marketers, that’s worth knowing. Another take away? Teachers were the first to jump in and help a colleague succeed. That’s one more proud reflection on the work and commitment of educators everywhere. And yes, it’s nice to see social media used, well, socially and collegially.
To all of my friends and colleagues who work in the education market, we are lucky. We work with teachers and administrators who truly want to make a difference for students. Just sayin’…
Many of our clients are grappling with the catalog and collateral conundrum. Are they worth the money? Where do they fit in our transformational digital marketing environment? Is our website robust enough to become our “catalog"?
In focus groups with school business officials, subject area teachers and department chairs, principals and technology leaders, we’ve heard every answer to these questions, times 10! Your answer should be specific for your products, programs and service portfolio and, most importantly, the needs and preferences of your customers and prospects.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team. Your answers will help guide your planning and decision-making process as you decide to “catalog” or look for alternatives:
If the answer is a resounding yes, a catalog may still be a strong contributor to your marketing mix. You can look at strategies for reducing production and mailing costs, while still supporting the “shopping” part of the buying cycle.
If so, you can put your current product lineup in an online, digital format and then develop a high impact “New Products” mini-catalog as a test. It can save time and money, and give you a new way to launch!
If customers rely on a print catalog for re-orders, new product announcements, and special offers, you don’t want to miss a single sale. So an option might be to create a “best seller” and “new product” version for prospecting and then develop a full line catalog in digital format for your website.
If you’re selling face-to-face, presenting to critical decision-makers at the district and school levels, building relationships at conferences or selling via RFP, collateral materials are valuable sales support and enablement for your sales and implementation teams. Not everything needs to be printed, but product data sheets, organizational overviews, case studies and research summaries should be well designed, easily downloadable, and ready for print on demand for high stakes meetings and presentations.
The answer to this question is to ASK educators. In surveys, focus groups, 1:1 interviews, and through informal rep channels, you can gather feedback and direction quickly. You might also consider tucking a survey into your current back-to-school catalog, or posting a pulse survey online. You can also test the catalog vs. mini-catalog vs. online question in with a limited number of customers and prospects, with some personal follow up.
Before you shout “Hold the press”, let’s talk through options and opportunities for your education market segments!
Good marketing is, well, good marketing. But just like any other B2B or B2C niche, there’s a whole ecosystem of buyers, influencers, users, and champions. One message, one promotion, one campaign simply doesn’t fit “education”.
Whether you’re just launching your products and programs into the education market or looking to upgrade and refresh your current education marketing initiatives, here are some new things to think about, think through and then apply to your strategic and tactical plans:
Already have education customers? When is the last time you did an in-depth profile? Targeting in email, social, and other media channels works best when you reach prospects whose characteristics mirror those of your customers. Small town or rural? Urban or suburban? New to the profession or a veteran teacher? Principal or department chair? You get the picture but customizing messaging, offers, and product mix will make a difference in results.
Collaboration and consensus are facts of life in the education market. Teachers often ask librarians to purchase specific resources. Principals may not purchase unless their teaching staff is on board. Administrators want buy-in from principals. The decision-making unit is alive, well and fluid in most districts and schools. For marketers, that means reaching in, through and around the influencers and purchasers to get to YES!
Does your product boost student achievement? Does it increase teacher satisfaction or retention? Does it save time, money or both? Educators are held accountable for their work and they hold their vendor partners accountable as well. Case studies, testimonials, data outcomes, reliable information about time or cost savings…all these help move an educator from prospect to potential.
Two years ago, if you asked educators about evolving priorities, you would have heard all about their interest in STEM and STEAM programs. Fast forward 24 months, and the acronym SEL is at the tip of curriculum leaders’ tongues and they have specific SEL instructional and resource priorities they’re working to address.
It’s just not enough to ask who and where your slice(s) of the education market are. What channels in print and digital media do they trust? Who are their “influencers” and “thought leaders"? What associations do they belong to, and which conferences do they attend? What’s the last “new” product or program they purchased? While we’re focused on moving educators through the marketing funnel and pushing out relevant content, knowing how, when, where, and why they’re buying and what they’re looking to buy are the real drivers of any marketing or promotion plan.
To dig deeper into your education market opportunities and challenges and build programs that deliver, let’s connect!