By: Bonnie Glover
Imagine education marketing is a game of dominos. The one where you line up tiles ever-so-carefully, give one a tap, and then watch as they all topple over, one after the other.
Education marketing is just like that. The actions you take now, in the fall, will impact the success of your marketing and sales this spring. It takes time for educators to make large purchases (often months; sometimes years). Now is the time to line up your dominos and kick-start the buyer journey by building awareness and familiarity that will eventually lead to sales.
Set the Purchasing Cycle in Motion
Why all of this buildup to spring? Most education purchases occur in summer, between May and August. But many districts and schools finalize budgets well before that in Q2. That means most purchasing decisions are actually made before a single transaction takes place, and those decisions are made in the spring.
From August to December, your focus should be on building brand awareness. Introduce yourself. Tout your differences. Explain the benefits of working with you. Most importantly, show that you care about your audience’s needs and have the know-how and tools to solve their greatest challenges.
One of the most effective ways to do this is by catching educators’ attention with brand-relevant content that establishes a connection, illustrates thought leadership and plants the seed of trust. Focus less on promotion and more on providing educational, valuable information that educators are already seeking out as they begin their earliest stages of product research.
Deliver that content to educators before they ask for it, and you’ve just tipped over your very first domino.
Meet Educators on Every Channel
Educators use many sources for researching education products, from websites and webinars to social media, emails and ads. Your strategy for promoting content should be as varied as the path educators’ take to finding it.
This means that the life cycle for a single piece of content can be quite long. Consider a whitepaper. Once you create a whitepaper, you’ll want to share it via email. But at the same time, you should promote that content on social media and through paid online advertising channels. You can even create a presentation around the whitepaper topic to present in a webinar or share at a conference breakout session.
If you can develop ancillary content from that whitepaper, even better. Pull data to create an infographic. Write a case study to show how the principles in the whitepaper have been put into practice in a real school or district. When you share these pieces, give educators the option to read the full whitepaper that inspired them, too.
Keep Up the Momentum with Data
Content is effective for building brand awareness. But that awareness is only useful if the right educators know about you. That’s why it’s important to also make data a focus in the fall.
Agile offers the most comprehensive and accurate database of education institutions and personnel available — perfect for prospecting and lead generation. We can help you determine which titles are best to target with the content you’ve created, and then promote that content on multiple channels, including email and digital advertising. We also can help you clean up your internal list to drive even higher reach and response.
Content campaigns are a great way to gather intelligence about your audience, too. Review campaign performance after every deployment, paying careful attention to who is engaging with your content and what kinds of content they prefer most. Are there specific titles that interact with you more than others? Are there certain topics they keep returning to?
From this information, you can build educator personas. Once you’ve defined those personas, you can segment your lists and target those groups with increasingly more personalized and product-focused content as you get closer to spring when that last domino falls.
About the Author
Bonnie Glover is a Senior Account Executive at Agile Education Marketing. She works with organizations to help them connect with educators and build their business through strategic, targeted use of Agile’s data and services. Bonnie has worked in sales for companies in both the higher education and K-12 markets so knows from first-hand experience the importance of crafting the right communications for the right educator audiences at the right time. As a resident of Steamboat Springs, CO, Bonnie enjoys spending her free time fly fishing and skiing.