Another Ednet is done, what did we learn?
Ednet is a conference for developers of education products to network and share insights into the education marketplace. Most of your time at the conference is networking, meeting with others for updates, but there are keynotes and sessions going on as well.
Melissa Greene of SETDA said that 21st Century learning will increasingly align with student voice. The trend is for students to have a hand in designing their own curriculum and choosing their tools. This will make life more unpredictable for teachers, who will have to learn to thrive in chaotic environments, as if their schools are not chaotic enough now. But it will also make school more meaningful and motivating for students, and is a path toward deep learning and agency.
Ann Flynn of the National School Boards Association was struck by the level of sophistication that is needed to successfully market and sell products in this increasingly competitive environment. “One size fits all” approaches seem destined to fail in an age when potential customers need targeted marketing messages just as much as students need personalized learning opportunities.
The need is for vendors to listen first and sell second! The superintendents’ urging for sales people to really understand their district issues and do their homework before proposing a solution was a powerful reminder of something I have told vendors for years when asked how to approach K-12 leaders.
Here were my takeaways:
- Sales people who are pressured to make sales (in order to meet quota, make bonuses, or keep their jobs) actually lose sales because of the sales pressure they use. Many tactics of consumer sales or B2B sales in other sectors do not work in education. Education sales and marketing require education-marketing and education-sales expertise (and if you decide you want some of that expertise, you can always contact us at Academic Business Advisors).
- When superintendents look at buying tech products, their lens is that they have a large teaching staff who are uncomfortable with technology, and either tech can’t move forward until virtually all their teachers are comfortable, or unless they are convinced there is an implementation plan to ease the teacher use of the technology.
- While superintendents (of mid-size and large districts) make the ultimate buy/no buy decision, the actual details of determining and analyzing how the system will work is left to others. Once the others report back the costs and benefits, then the superintendent makes the decision of whether the culture and budget will support it. Targeting the superintendent does not result in sales, although involving the superintendent might help the decision-making process along.
- While people talk about measuring the reach of marketing and social networking, the best measurement in the world can’t compensate for bad content. Effective marketing begins with new and engaging content, and then the analytics allow you to tweak in order to maximize your results.
- The most effective marketing is through education ambassadors. If excited teachers and administrators raving about your product to others, you’re going to grow. And if they aren’t, you won’t.
- The states that are most likely to grow their education purchases over the next five years are CA, FL, ID, MD, TX, and WA. If you’re not an ABA client, please plan your sales efforts in the other states.
- Dual enrollment courses are experiencing high growth as a matter of policy. These are different from AP courses, these are courses usually given jointly between high schools and state schools or community colleges.
Tip for Conducting a Roundtable
Next time you give a round table, try gamifying it. I did, and I think it resulted in a more spirited discussion. I had a score keeper. We awarded
- 2 points for a question
- 2 points for a direct answer to a question
- -1 points for any question or answer that took more than 3 minutes
- 5 points each for a great comment or question (and only two could be awarded)
We’ll be at the SIIA Education Business Forum in December in NY, then the Young Innovators Fair in Philadelphia January 2-3 with Games4Ed. Or, you can catch us on Edchat Interactive. Or, join in the Thursday, 8:00PM ET #Games4Ed Twitter chats. Or, if you want to talk before then, just email or call.