If You Can Keep Your Head in all This Confusion
“When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again”
--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Helter Skelter
If you are my age, you remember the Beatles, or perhaps you listened when your parents played their “old” music. In either event, there is a song on the Beatles White Album Called “Helter Skelter.” It’s cadence and frenetic pace remind me of what is currently transpiring in education.
There has never been a time in our history when education has experienced disruption on this scale. It seems that everything is up in the air. Attendance this Fall? Yes. Maybe. Yes, but with social distancing. Yes, but with a hybrid model of attendance. Mondays, Tuesdays. Red days, blue days. More money. Less money.
As a purveyor of fine EdTech and other services for schools, where do you fit in? Where can you get the facts, with so many conflicting messages swirling around the Interweb like a disjointed cyclone? Should you protect your assets or bet the farm?
Our research says bet the farm. Here’s why:
The combination of the immediate need to enhance distance learning with technology and the CARES Act stimulus money will have a remarkable effect on digital curriculum and hardware. According to LeiLani Cauthen, CEO and Publisher of the Learning Counsel, “The U.S. K-12 market spends about $715 billion annually. The EdTech spend is typically around $36.2 billion out of that, which is about 5 percent. However, we're expecting as the year end numbers come in, the EdTech spend will have jumped to close to 8 percent ($57 billion) or higher.”
No matter what else you hear in the news or from your district buyers, make sure you hear this. The EdTech spend is expected to increase 40 percent this year. An additional $20 billion is expected to be spent by the end of the year. That is massive. It is a spending spree that our industry has never seen before.
If you are familiar with Cauthen and the Learning Counsel’s research, you know it has a habit of being freakishly accurate. That means you should not only bet the farm, you should sell the stamp collection and that old 69 GTO in the garage. Take the money and create the strongest marketing campaigns you have ever created and follow that up with unusually aggressive sales efforts. One thing I know about sales, you need to be in the room to win.
What to do
Marketing needs to be immediate and pervasive. Use a combination of content marketing, podcast appearances, webinars, social media and, starting this Fall, live events. If you use a marketing or PR firm to assist you, make sure that they are experts in the education industry. This is vital. If you don’t know who to choose, ask me. I have the good fortune to have worked with the best minds in education marketing for many years.
Sales needs to be conducted at a very high professional level. As the CEO in your firm, you need to do a lot of this personally. It is also a good idea to sharpen your team’s skills with some top of the line sales training. Use a firm that has expertise in training technology companies. One of the best I know is 2WIN!. You can reach out to my friend Bob Riefstahl personally.
If you want an inside look at what school district executives are really saying, listen to the Learning Counsel’s recent National Virtual Discussions. There are more than 20 unfiltered discussions by education decision-makers on a variety of relevant topics, from budget allocation to stimulus spending, from social distancing tech to the best way to outfit teachers remotely. It’s all there, what education leaders are really thinking and what they plan to do.
If you need advice on getting started, contact the Learning Counsel. They are available for consultation, and have the most up-to-date research to help you determine the who, when and how of education sales and marketing during this time of unprecedented disruption. Remember, within this cloud of disruption is an amazing silver lining. We have the opportunity to recreate education for the mid-century and positively affect the lives of millions of learners.
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.