The ABCs of Effective Marketing to Ed Tech Buyers

Ed Tech is Rich. Ed Tech is Hungry. Ed Tech is Hard to Penetrate.

Last year was a banner one for the education technology market. According to EdSurge.com, in 2015 the industry got $1.85 billion in funding. The industry has seen venture capital deals boom – and there’s no sign of stopping anytime soon. GSV Capital predicts that the education sector will go from being 9% of America’s GDP to 12%. Not too bad.

With so much attention focused on new education technology, all the “silicon” startups (Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach, Silicon Alley) are bustling to get their products in front of buyers. But how? That’s the question.

Getting to the Core of What Educators Want

Despite educators being eager for great solutions, there’s still a challenge in getting educators to try or even think about trying your product. That is, in part, due to many startups being unaware of how educators like to do business (word-of-mouth, great reviews, in-person communication) and what gets them to perk up as they pass hundreds of tables down convention aisles.

And what do educators want? They want a company that’s clear in their mission; that solves a real problem; that’s been proven to work and one that doesn’t waste their time. So let’s take at some basic ways startups can make themselves shine in a room full of tech stars.

All About You? Not So Fast.

So you’ve spent a lot of time and energy creating a slick look, website, logo, and name. You have a beautiful sign to hang at the next SXSWEdu and business cards that would make Patrick Bateman swoon. The problem is, you’re not alone. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other tech companies doing the same thing. But what many educators actually want is your vision, plain and simple.

That means instead of making your company’s name the center of attention on banners and business cards, think about putting its value proposition there instead.

After all, eDotEmLearning means nothing (we made that up) while “Google Apps For Education: A Suite of Free Productivity Tools for Classroom Collaboration” gives us the main gist of what the product is (app), how much it costs (free) and the general idea of what it’s going to help us do (be more productive in working together in the classroom). So get to it – tell them how you are the best choice to solve problem X.

And if you’ve already made the effort to get your product reviewed by a reputable source, then even better! If someone else is saying how awesome you are at providing a certain solution, then it makes it more believable when you try to say the same thing.

Build Your Brand. 

It seems unfair that you’ve spent all this time on R&D, creating an almost absurdly useful product that is sure to disrupt education as we know it  – and yet, you still have to network. But it’s the truth.

  • You have to write articles or, at least, contribute to someone else’s.
  • You need an online presence in social media or in media written about you
  • You have to go to conventions, webinars, and summits to talk about your product and get people to trust you.

To make all of that count, you have to go to another, deeper level:

  • You have to understand the real pains of education, its history, and what education reform actually means.

This is all part of your brand, because your brand is rooted in education. If you can’t speak the language or put the energy into getting to know the people who will ultimately invest in your product, then it’s going to be a tough road distinguishing yourself from countless other ed tech wizards out there.

Creativity. Collaboration. Communication.

Educators are looking for visionary tools that will flip the switch in a student’s brain. A tool that will get them to love learning – even if it is algebra. What that means is they’re over the same old “drill and practice” tech that’s ubiquitous in the market today. Many teachers argue that those kinds of “tools” are really just costly versions of traditional worksheets. Not exciting, and not something many teachers want to spend their precious time learning and implementing.

Instead, they’re looking for innovative products that can get kids to think creatively, critically and collaboratively. These are big ideas that are leading 21st century education. Popular examples of these kinds of classroom tech tools include everything from Makerspaces to drones to information visualization.

So while the ed tech classroom is full of raised hands, these are just of few strategies you can use to get the teacher to call on you.

Want to get even more advice from ed tech experts on how to successfully market your products? Join RedCup’s next vidcast, “Standing Out in a Crowded EDTech Market,” on April 27th at 1 PM. This is a free, 30-minute summit – but sign up now because spaces are limited.