Five Tips for Marketing Your Education Product or Service
The education industry is full of innovators with new products and solutions being introduced regularly. In 2020, the industry saw sizeable increases in investment across nearly every product category, mostly to help meet the changing needs of districts, schools and educators due to COVID. If your company or organization is one of these innovators gearing up to release something new, here are some tips to help you build a successful product launch strategy.
- Build a plan that recognizes the unique characteristics of educators as buyers. Educators have distinct traits and buying habits, and you can tailor your strategy accordingly. Fiercely brand loyal, educators will become strong advocates for your brand if you can capture this loyalty. Although it may seem counterintuitive, try not to lead with product as you build your plan. Instead, focus on identifying educator challenges and pain points, and provide them with resources to address their challenges. This will position your brand as one that cares deeply about educators and their students. Educators also rely heavily on peer recommendations as they make buying decisions. Once you’ve established some brand advocates, solicit testimonials that you can use to build trust with potential customers.
- Know and speak to your specific educator audience. “Educator” is a broad audience term that encompasses multiple sub-audiences: teachers and other school staff (such as guidance counselors, media specialists, support staff, etc.), building-level administrators and district-level personnel. You can get even more specific within these audiences, such as segmenting by grade level or job title. You should also consider whether your target audience is made up of influencers (usually the classroom teacher) or purchasers/decision makers (typically the administrator or district audiences, depending on the size of the investment).
Educators also span a wide range of demographics, including age. 57% of America’s teachers are 30-49 years old, 14% are less than 30 years old, and 29% are over 50. The people buying and using your product or service could be Baby Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials. Consider targeting Baby Boomers with more traditional marketing — straightforward spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Gen Xers or Millennials may be more drawn to online demos, videos or even apps. Since these generations make up the largest percentage of teachers, consider putting the bulk of your marketing efforts into these tactics.
Once you’ve identified your exact target audience, create messaging built on their specific characteristics and needs. One effective way to do this is by creating audience personas. This is the time to get granular: create a detailed profile including a name, title and even an image representing each audience persona. Map out their demographics, needs and challenges, and refer back to your personas frequently as you develop your messaging to keep the focus on the audience.
- Embrace relationship-building strategies. Once you’ve brought your product or service into a school or district, build relationships with multiple contacts. Education has a higher rate of turnover than other market sectors, and you may find that your main point of contact moves on to another position or location. With more than one educator contact within a customer location, your engagement can continue as it does not rely on just one person. This may also open up new opportunities: when one of your contacts changes schools or districts, you’ll have a chance to potentially bring your product or service into the new location. It’s also critical to keep your data updated so you have the most recent information on your contacts and you aren’t wasting your marketing efforts on educators who have changed jobs or locations or who have retired.
- Follow the money: time your efforts to align with funding and budget cycles. Take time to plot what budgets can be used to buy your product, who controls those budgets and when the decisions to purchase are made. Let us know if we can help you better understand the buying cycle, just fill out this form and we’ll get back to you.
Additionally, stay on top of the frequent changes within the industry that impact your program or product. The education landscape is constantly evolving — laws change, federal funding comes and goes, and technology advances. For example, is funding now available for educators to utilize your program, such as the funding currently being distributed through the American Rescue Plan? Your marketing should stay current and reflect how your product or program accommodates and responds to such changes.
- Join the conversation with the right channels at the right time. A multichannel approach is most successful, but each channel has unique timing when educators are more engaged. Use multiple channels and focus on optimal times for each. For example, when educators are out of school on vacation or summer break, they tend to be more active on social channels and less likely to respond to email outreach. Days and times for your outreach play a role as well. Educators tend to be more active on social media on nights and weekends, but more responsive to emails earlier in the mornings prior to the start of the school day, or after the day has ended.
MMS has a deep knowledge of the best strategies and tactics for reaching and engaging educators as a unique audience, backed by 40 years of experience creating and delivering results-focused communications and marketing programs to this industry. We can help you navigate the marketing challenges specific to education to build a strong product or service marketing strategy.
Book a meeting with our experts to learn how MMS can help you reach, engage and successfully bring your product or service the preK–12 education market.