Articles Posted in Data Driven Selling

4567uetudthjgfjhgIn “Four years into the ebook revolution: things we know and things we don’t know” Mike Shatzkin does a great job of summarizing the state of the trade publishing business. Education Publishers take note – this is your future.

In “Predicting Player Behavior and How Zynga Profits From Data Analysis” John Rice picks apart the Wall St. Journal’s article (paywall) with an eye to education. Talk about data driven business models is all the rage in EdTech – this is what it really looks like. Money quote:

“We feel that a purely data-driven approach has significant promise for creating accurate predictive models of player behavior in games without the difficulties associated with earlier modeling techniques.”

Stephen Coller at the Gates Foundation has a new blog Forking Education about their open source work on the Shared Learning Infrastructure (SLI), the Learning Resources Metadata Initiative (LRMI), and Learning Maps among other things. I’m not sure if the title is meant to evoke poking a fork to stir things up or if it is a bad pun.

IMG_4955.jpgOK – admit it, trade shows are fun. Sometimes traveling to a distant city, circulating with your peers, and dining out on the company can be a kick. You are learning too – about competitors and about your customers. The deadlines around a trade show can produce drama and tension, and some people thrive on that.

By comparison web marketing can be a daily slog and there isn’t much direct contact with the customer. Web marketing requires persistence and patience. Success is metered in small steps and delivered incremental improvements over time.

In this article I explore who should prioritize shows and who should focus on web marketing and I share some ideas about how to compare the two.

In this second of a two part series, guest blogger James Mayfield Smith responds to my post on Storyline in Textbooks and Video Games. James is an educational consultant, sales executive, and trained applied mythologist.

Part 1 can be found here.

Part 2 of 2: The Tactical Use of Story to Sell

ertydfhcghDo you need to pick a target market when entering the education market? One of the true signs of a rookie is a business plan built on selling to all schools. Just because all schools should be using your widget doesn’t mean they are ready to buy it.

Picking a target market is a discipline many people try to avoid – they don’t like getting boxed in. Others don’t understand just how big the education market is or think all schools are the same. If you are in love with your product you may resist the idea that some schools don’t want it or don’t need it.

Today we tackle issue #2 in our series on selling and marketing to educators. As a consultant in the education market I work with a wide range of businesses. This series covers the common execution errors I see with new executives and companies when they enter the market.


Marketing and selling in the era of infinite input feels like howling into a gale. The average urban dweller is subject to 4,000 ads a day, 1 every 14 seconds. The only sane defense is to tune it all out, to turn it into wallpaper for your world.

Earlier in this series on Information Overload we looked at our broken paradigms of information management, a new personal productivity paradigm, and 10 ways to build instructional products for today’s learners. Today we look at what this means for those of us in the persuasive professions. The suggestions here are not just for education publishers – they are what I consider best practices for all marketers.

The fundamental problem is that the signal to noise ratio has gotten completely out of whack. I have an email account that I’ve been using for several years. Spammers have gotten their grubby little mitts on it and I now get over 3,000 spam emails a week at this address. I have great filtering – less than 100 make through so that isn’t the problem. The issue is that I no longer bother looking for false positives – I just delete it all and hope/pray that if it is important the person will find another way to reach me.

E-Mail Marketing to Educators: What`s Working was put on Heller QED on October 12th. I had the honor of speaking about eMail marketing in a web 2.0 world.


My core message was that eMail 2.0 is activity driven, not demographics driven.

A person does something, and the company responds in a personal, authentic, and timely manner with a communication. It has the same give and take as a conversation. The focus is engaging people early in the decision making cycle with useful information, not at the end with a last ditch special offer.

Picking a target market is one of the most fundamental decisions a sales and marketing team makes. Your target market determines what products you build, where you promote them, and how you talk about them. Socratic Marketing in the budding conversation economy demands a rigorous approach to this question as part of your Big M Marketing approach..

Target-Market-Forces.gifPicking a good target market is a balancing act. The smaller your market the higher your odds of success in targeting specific needs. However, that has to be weighed against the financial objectives of the business. You can’t get so small that you define yourself out of a job! Think of this as two forces that are inversely proportionate. Your goal is to find the right balance point.

So why do so many companies get this wrong? They define markets based on granfalloons, a concept coined by Kurt Vonnegut which means “a proud and meaningless association of human beings.” For example, have you seen segmentation schemes based on geography, district size, or % of free and reduced lunch students? If you are engaging in data driven selling and/or socratic marketing these are good starting points, but they are not the most powerful way to define a market.

It is easy for a sales force to fall into a comfort zone. Data-driven decision making techniques can help insure that Reps are reaching beyond their current contacts.

In many companies there is a great deal of data about the market. The challenge is to drive this into your field organization so that the Reps and their Managers are probing for untapped market potential on a regular basis.

There are some simple and quick ways to start using data in selling to schools and school districts. This post outlines some ideas for how to encourage your sales force to adopt a more data driven approach.

More below the fold…

Continue reading