Articles Tagged with marketing

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.

1068068_hortensia_leaf_with_old_key_1Rookies in the education market make a set of common mistakes. There are five concepts you need to grasp about selling to schools that will help you avoid execution error as you enter the learning market. Consider these the iron laws of marketing to public schools. Accept them, nay embrace them, and your job will be easier.

In my consulting practice I go through these topics with almost all clients who are entering this market from other industries or countries. In this series I will post my thoughts on each of these rules and I welcome your comments and reactions. We will cover:

Part 1. Obey the calendar. Schools buy on a regular schedule, design your business around it.

This video spoofs the phony voice of marketers and advertising. It is “office safe” so don’t worry about the volume. Enjoy.

Does your marketing sound like this? You might have been able to get away with this 15 years ago but since social media has allowed people to opt out this kind of insincere over-dramatization you need to be careful.

For education publishers you also need to remember that many teachers teach critical thinking skills – if you are talking down to them they won’t react well.

550832_alone_in_the_rain“A Cranky, Skeptical, Loudmouth looks at Social Media Marketing” is a little rain on the “Conversation Economy” parade. It was written by Bob Hoffman over at Copyblogger. The 55 comments are as good or better than the article itself (alert the Irony Police).

“You and I are web geeks. We spend way more time than we should looking at computer screens. We are not normal. Especially you. The biggest mistake any marketer can make is marketing to himself, i.e. assuming his customer is just like him. They’re not and they never will be.”

I can’t disagree with that.

I like his definition of interaction as well.

Information Overload and Education Publishing Marketing penned (keyed?) by yours truly was published today on the AEP blog. This is a summary of the longer series I did last year on information overload. If you want a quick introduction or need a refresher hop over and take a look.

While you are there bookmark the blog or better yet drop it into your RSS reader – on a regular basis senior people from the publishing industry will be writing about the business.


BS-DetectorMarketing departments have tried to control brand identity with years of research and oceans of ink (and pixels). But the concept that a company can control its brand is a myth and it always has been. At best a company can contribute to its brand identity, but in reality that identity is created by the market. That identity includes not just the nice polished stories pumped out by Marketing, but all the crappy and in between stuff that happens when product meets customer.

This topic was brought home in a lively discussion at the Austin Social Media Club breakfast this morning. Bryan Person led a conversation about how to lead people to Web 2.0 who are outside of the technology bubble. One theme that surfaced was marketers’ reluctance to give up controlling the message. That “control” is a total conceit on their part.

With Web 2.0 customers can talk to each other about the things they always talked about, but now Marketers can see it. This is hugely disorienting for a tribe that thought they “controlled” and “managed” their brand identity. But all of us as consumers are gravitating to this new way of interacting with each other. For companies that can adapt it will result in much more authentic conversations with their customers. We need more focus on contribution and less on control.


Hype alert – Web 2.0 Marketing is a paradigm shift but only a portion of the market is using it today. In Part 1 I argued that market trends should be pushing you to use social networking, blogs, wikis, and the other tools of Web 2.0 in your marketing mix. Given the uneven adoption of these tools in your customer base you will be managing a mix of the old and new for quite some time. So think of it as expanding your paradigm.

Before we go on I want to add to what I said in Part 1. There is one additional reason for doing all this that is specific to the education market. Most teachers are isolated in their classrooms – they yearn to have their voice heard and to be part of a larger community. The asynchronous nature of most social media are ideal for meeting this need. It is one of the reasons there are so many education groups already on Ning.

So what does this “paradigm expansion kit” look like? Here are five ways of thinking like a Web 2.0 Marketer that you can add to your toolkit.


Education marketers have been slow to adopt wikis, blogs, social networks, and virtual worlds. There are valid reasons for this (see below), but it is time for us as an industry to begin embracing these tools. In this series I’m going to explore the industry context, the gestalt, and some concrete ideas to help you get started down this path.

Over the past year I have been asking people “what is the first thing you do in Amazon after you make sure you have the product you were seeking?” The almost universal answer is that people scroll down to look at the user generated comments. This is the power of Web 2.0 at work – what your peers have to say on a subject is far more important than anything a company might say.

There are two primary reasons the education industry should be employing Web 2.0 tools:

Has your company ever honed a promotional activity only to see it lose its potency right as you perfect it? The frustrating fact is that promotional activities have a shelf life.

This happens because the more effective you get at targeting a market the faster you tap the folks who respond to a given approach. A company I worked at had honed direct mail to a fine art over 3 years – our response rates consistently topped 2%. All of a sudden our response rates were down to 1%. We knew our stuff was good – it had worked in the past. But over those 3 years we had reached most of the folks who responded to mail.

What can you do when this happens? Follow me to the flip for 3 suggestions.

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