Blackboard’s booth at NECC in Atlanta was one of the best examples I’ve seen recently of Socratic Marketing. They asked teachers to write a brief paragraph on how they intended to use a free trial of the product in their classrooms. Then they took a polaroid of them and pasted several hundred of them all over the booth. In an inversion of current trends they created a real version of a virtual community. It was fun and interesting to browse the cards and it made a strong visual statement.
Blackboard started a real dialog and also provided the foundation for a series of ongoing conversations. Shana Glenzer, Sr. K-12 Marketing Manager at Blackboard, told me that they were getting ideas for uses of the product that they hadn’t thought of, like connecting pregnant teens to classroom resources. They also intend to use the ideas in conversations with senior administrators at districts – “6 of your teachers visited with us and here are some of the ideas they had…”
It was arresting in its simplicity and represented a validation of the products in the words of end users. It also showed that great marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot.