EdTech Startups Will Find The Education Market Is Like No Other, EdNet Has A Marketing Track You Don’t Want To Miss
Ask any company that’s brought a product to market in education, coming from b2b or b2c and they’ll tell you that the education market was not what they expected. They may have the latest greatest security device for internet connected thingy mabobbers that are making their way into every classroom. Traditional thinking would be, go to a trade show, bombard the decision makers with email, the more I do this, the more likely I am to get a sale, or ten or 1000.
This couldn’t be further from the truth at both the K-12 and the Higher Ed level. That’s the first thing you need to realize when bringing a product, app, company or startup to the “edtech” space, it’s two very distinctly different space, K-12 and Higher Ed. It’s nearly impossible to bring a market to the broader “education space” and efficiently reach customers. With most B2B (business to business) transactions, the end user isn’t the customer. This is the case for education, but in the case of education, especially education, the end user has a lot of influence on the purchase.
In education, in most cases, the purchaser, the person signing the check, is often times not the customer and really doesn’t care what any sales person thinks, they want their field team to have a say. Superintendents, Chancellors, Presidents of Universities don’t give a care in the world why your widget is better than the next one and they’re not going to read your emails, no matter how many you send. So the decision maker isn’t the purchaser, that’s the first thing you need to understand.
When you’ve shelled out $10,000 plus dollars to show your product off at TCEA or ISTE and spent an hour and a half with a Language Arts teacher from Montana, you need to know she’s not the purchaser either, but that relationship is as important as the purchaser, she’s the user and her students are the users too.
I recently spoke with a marketing director at an edtech company that’s becoming pretty well known in the K12 space. This marketing director along with several of their C-Suite executives all came from a pretty big company in the wireless/mobile space. They told me “education is so different, you have three different customers for the same sale, sometimes four, the student, the teacher, the administrator and the superintendent. All of them are equally important, we were fortunate to realize this early”.
Young companies are going to have an extremely hard time with this notion. They identify the target and go in for the kill. That’s not happening in edtech.
There are four big things when marketing your edtech product
- Passive Exposure: passive exposure and top of mind awareness are important for an edtech company. Many of our partners at nibletz.com benefit from multiple levels of exposure to three of the four customers. We also get exposure to investors but that’s not as important to the typical edtech sale. (want big time exposure ask us by email firstname.lastname@example.org). Don’t confuse passive exposure with the hunt, target, kill or throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks approach.
- Understanding your decision maker: The decision maker is often not the check writer. One key thing about the decision maker in education, they actually care about the end user in ways you can’t imagine. In fact it’s that caring about the end user, the students, that have them in education in the first place. Sure the guy who runs the local wireless phone store is going to say they care about their customer but not the way a principal or a teacher cares about their students, your sons and daughters. This is paramount in the education space.
- Participation: Remember what an educator is. Education is a unique market in that 99% of us have all had some kind of education. We’ve all certainly completed some level of K-12 and most of us have completed some level of college. So you’ve educators and administrators think about that person they want participation in the purchase not just before, during and after as well. It’s not because they’re know it all customers, it’s because they’re inquisitive by nature and problem solves. You’ve installed your product at 28 schools in the district and a principal calls up with a tip about a new way to do something, LISTEN to that tip. They’re in the field, working with teachers and students, not you.
- Buyer-Centric approach the buyer or should I say buyers need to be at the center of your marketing. Just as learners are at the center of all education products. This one encompasses a bit of all three other tips. The buyers in the education space need to know that you’ll be there beyond the PO because if you won’t someone else will.
As the edtech market rapidly evolves so does the way it’s marketed to. You have a chance to keep a leg up and really understand the nuances of educational marketing from experts in the field at EdNet in Scottsdale Arizona. Check out a talk called “Don’t Crash The Party- Get Invited: Why a disruptive approach to marketing is no longer relevant” during the conference. For more information click here. To register for EdNet click here.