- Review of Traditional Marketing Methods Used to Target Teachers / Education Sector...
- Marketing and Selling to Teachers / Schools via the Internet
- Web Sponsorship Opportunities Designed to Increase Traffic and Grow Sales...
- Visitor Testimonials
“How do you sell and market to Primary / Elementary School Teachers?”
Selling and promoting your product to the education sector can be a challenge. Teachers are difficult individuals to target in a marketing sense because of the nature of their jobs. Yet teachers are a critical element in any sales cycle for products and services targeted at the world of education. Teachers at the chalk face, almost always, are involved in the majority of buying decisions. However, many traditional marketing methods simply don’t work with teachers, let’s explore and debate them:
a) Using a Sales Team to Target Teachers
- Sales: Have you ever tried to get a sales appointment with a primary / elementary school teacher,? A fairly impossible task because of the nature of their jobs. They’re either a) teaching their students and cannot be disturbed b) In a free lesson period and therefore planning and do not want to be disturbed or c) they’re at home and thus, cannot be reached. Unfortunately when selling to educators the salesman will have a tough time and therefore direct sales is not a great marketing technique - back to the education marketing drawing board!
b) Using Telesales to Target Schools and Educators
- Telesales: The sector selling to the education community is very competitive - with many players in the education marketplace. Schools are used to dealing with ‘cold calls’ and their gatekeepers (the school receptionist usually) have a variety of tools in their arsenal to deal with the persistent telesales marketeer. Again, because of the issues above the gatekeepers simply cannot allow calls to be put through to the decision makers. Don’t take it personally... of course, you will need a telesales team to be ready to accept inbound calls and to be well trained so that any opportunity to cross sell or upsell to the teacher can be made.
c) Using Exhibitions and Conferences to Sell to Teachers
Exhibitions & Conferences: Moderately more successful than sales and telesales when selling to educators are exhibitions and conferences. However, they’re expensive and any marketing manager wanting to exhibit at an education event needs to be confident that there will be a good return on investment - whether that be intangible (such as greater brand awareness) or tangible (as in sales and orders from schools). Also, events tend to be geographically skewed... for example an event in a major city is likely to attract teachers within a 100 mile radius (great if you’re only targeting schools in one geographic region, poor if you want to work with schools on a national scale).
d) Using Direct Marketing Methods (e.g. mail shots) to Target Schools
Direct Marketing: 10 years ago direct marketing was one of the most popular methods for targeting teachers in primary / elementary schools. It’s measurable (certainly if it’s got a direct response mechanism on it) but it’s also expensive and time consuming (and eats trees) and has a high failure rate as most post goes via the school’s gatekeeper and gets recycled because it is junk mail. The internet has largely made this marketing method redundant. Marketing Managers and Executives strike this one off your education marketing plan - you’ll blow your education budget and your MD will be very upset with you!
e) Using a Print Advertising Campaign to Target Teachers
Advertising: Expensive (and of course difficult to measure)... and many teachers are now searching on the Internet for resources and thus sales of typical education magazines have declined. In fact this is a global trend across most magazine titles not just those targeting the education sector. So it used to be effective for influencing teachers but is less so now. As many marketing managers know, a great deal of advertising revenue has shifted to the internet and thus desperate magazine sales executives may give you some good deals, especially if you mention that you’re thinking of spending the money on an effective and measurable pay per click campaign targeting teachers.
Marketing Managers take note - go for it if you have the budget (remember to be hard nosed though) but be looking for smaller ads which drive teachers to landing pages on your website... use specific web pages for your print advertising with no inbound links so that you can measure the traffic effectively i.e. the only route to this web page is via your print advertising. [back to top]
The Internet: More and more teachers are looking to the internet to provide solutions to daily teaching tasks and issues, whether it is finding interactive resources for use on interactive whiteboards (IWBs), or lesson plans or images or even video clips... the internet is there and the teachers are using it. Thus, an internet strategy must form part of your marketing plan for targeting teachers - how can you drive more teachers to your website and then convert those visits into sales?
When thinking about the internet your education strategy will fall into two broad categories:
a) Targeting Teachers via Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising:
This is advertising through the search engines where you bid for an advert with a click through price - the adverts link directly to your website. You choose the keywords that you want to exhibit under and then make your bid for the advert. You can advertise under many education keywords and link to many different pages within your website. Thus, you can specifically target keywords with products that drive teacher traffic directly to your website where the goods are being sold. Google Adwords is the most popular pay per click advertising scheme but Yahoo and MSN also run their own schemes. Be prepared to pay anything between 10p / 20c per click up to £2 / $4... It’s a quick fix if your site has low traffic but not a good long-term strategy.
b) Targeting Teachers via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO):
Optimising your company’s website so that it is found by teachers through the organic searches. You should be thinking about generating engaging content (to encourage inbound links) that is optimised to the keywords that teachers are using to search with.
Engaging content is key... it’s not enough any more to put products up for sale with a shopping cart system (unless you have a massive pay per click budget)... you need to engage with teachers and encourage repeat visits - think about using case studies, podcasts, blogging, web casts, video testimonials and other interactive content... there are lots of competitors and those with well optimised sites and plenty of inbound links will be top of the search engine rankings... many marketeers who were marketing educated in the nineties are beginning to fall behind new ‘web savvy’ younger marketeers - now’s the time to update yourself, so get reading and use your brain!
Other web considerations include:
- Accessibility - meeting W3C guidelines
- Content Management Systems to allow easy updating of your website
- Analytics - some kind of web analytics programme to monitor your web results
- Email Harvesting - ways of capturing teacher email address for future campaigns
- Online surveys - encouraging feedback on your education products
Plus much more...
c) E-newsletters to Target the Education Sector
E-newsletters: Great if you have the email addresses of the teachers you want to target. However, spam email is becoming more of an issue and therefore email software has got better at filtering unsolicited marketing emails. Other problems with using email to target teachers is that a) they usually only have a personal email address which is not often provided (thus, won’t appear in any marketing databases) b) If they have a school email address it’s long and not very easy to remember and thus it never gets used and c) .. don’t forget about data protection, the teachers you want to target will have needed to opt-in to your e-newsletter otherwise you’ll be breaking the law... so be careful with any lists you rent or buy... ask lots of questions about how the email addresses were harvested.
In summary, top performing marketing method for targeting schools and teachers is the Internet. It’s top because it’s instantly measurable, is always ready to deal with customers, has geographic reach, teachers are using it more and more, and it’s cost effective... drawbacks... it can take a while for the Return on Investment to materialize but better to start now as the net will become more and more important for those companies needing to compete in the education arena.
The above review of marketing methods was based on 14 years experience in sales and marketing roles within a variety of industries (and a degree in marketing) and more recently 4 years experience in marketing the interactive literacy website www.roythezebra.com to primary / elementary school teachers around the world with no budget but a determined motivation to learn as much as possible about the internet and how it works in order to encourage traffic and get ‘Roy’ in front of as many children as possible.
Every month, ‘Roy’ influences approximately 25,000 teachers* and more than a quarter of a million children around the world (*source Google Analytics). The site is on-track to deliver more than 2 million web pages to its visitors, is linked to by thousands of sites and is found under more than 6,000 keyword phrases... including Google page one rankings for many top keyword phrases. [back to top]
www.roythezebra.com is now looking for a sponsor. Ideally this will be an exclusive agreement with an organisation wanting to grow sales to the education community in the UK, North America, Australia or New Zealand - it will be more than just an advertising deal... as we’ll be looking for innovative ways to grow sales that will compliment your products and our website - it’s open for discussion but the sponsorship package could include branding and advertising throughout www.roythezebra.com, involvement in joint web surveys to support future product development (approx 400 teachers completed our last survey), contextual links to product pages within your site, and co-branding of our e-newsletters to our database of more than 5,000 teachers. For the right sponsor we’d also be willing to share more of our marketing practice and theories.
If you’re interested in this proposal and would like to begin discussions please contact Tim Bowerbank at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some testimonials made by teachers via the survey this year.
"A fun site that I shall be using more and more in the future and I intend to pass it on to other staff."
"Thanks...very good site. I have designed some cirricula myself and it's rare to find such a "step-by-step" reading program with no holes in it. You can literally go on from one point to the next. "
"I really love this! The story is very appealing and my year 1 pupil, in particular, really likes it. I teach individual pupils and this has enabled me to keep lessons fresh and fun. I am delighted with the worksheets too! More like this please!!"
"I think the story is great for young children. I love the interesting games and the worksheets. They really target reading and reading for enjoyment. The feedback for errors is instant in the IT games. Great work."
"A fun way to encourage reluctant readers in both decoding and comprehension."
"...it is a very good initiative for struggling readers"
"...children thoroughly enjoy the story, worksheets and games. They are willing and able now to predict what might happen next and are beginning to write their own sections independently."
"...Thank you so much for such a wonderful site for getting students excited about reading. The students had high interest in the story and I found it so easy to get them to do some higher order thinking and predicting with this story."
"...fun, website with tremendous potential. Children forget they are learning!"
"...This is a very useful and fun site. My first graders love it and so do I!"
"Thanks for the sacred job you are doing!"
"The children really like the interactive games. Well done for tackling all the awkward lit objectives - a great site thanks"
"...great story full of fine humour and witty puns all my young pupils LOVE it and want to read on... THANK YOU!"