Creativity, potential and the future dominate all conversations I have about edtech. Recently, I went to EDUCATE’s ‘Empowering Women in EdTech’ event and in January I was at Bett 2020, one of the world’s biggest education technology shows.
At EDUCATE’s event and among the hundreds of competing vendors exhibiting at Bett, everyone shares the same goal: to transform education. Although this collective goal is impressive, on an individual level it’s hard for edtech companies to cut through the noise and communicate why they should be chosen over a competitor. Everyone is trying to be the next big thing, but how do you prove you are?
My advice to edtech companies looking to stand out in an increasingly crowded market is to take advantage of integrated communications. Here’s what I mean by that.
Channel the momentum of a booming industry by starting with plan
In the UK alone, the edtech market is set to be worth £3.4 billion by 2021. There’s clearly a great opportunity here, but to capitalise on it, edtech firms must have a clear brand strategy, underpinned by the key messages they want to be known for.
Messages form the foundation of all communications and marketing. Once these are established, think about the industry conversations you want to be involved in, then, each month, plan activities in line with this.
For instance, in June, during London’s edtech week, writing a blog for your website and promoting it via social media and in email signatures could boost engagement. Preparing a comment to pitch to journalists for A-level results day in August, is a great way to secure top tier coverage.
Creative comms inspired by learning technology
Edtech and particularly learning technology – which encompasses anything from e-books and coding to VR and robots – is inherently creative. Learning tech nurtures creativity too – something previous education systems failed at. Back in 2011, an ‘imaginative thinking’ test commissioned by NASA found 98% of children between 4 and 5 ranked as creative geniuses. After entering the education system, by the time they were 14 and 15, this had fallen to 12%.
As adults, some of us lose our creative spark, but that’s no excuse when it comes to communications. You must be distinctive and bold to make an impact. However, it isn’t necessarily about wacky, budget-consuming campaigns like floating a giant rubber duck down the Thames, it’s about creating ideas that are firmly tied to your business results and what your audience cares about. At Aspectus, we call this “considered creativity”.
If your company lacks brand awareness, you’ll want to create a campaign that truly captivates your audience. You could talk around a key industry trend such as the problem of getting buy-in from teachers, and make your mark on the topic by tracking how teachers of different generations embrace education technology – we all remember the teachers who struggled with the interactive whiteboards. After your research you could create a whitepaper, then promote this via a LinkedIn campaign targeted at CTOs in education, or aim to secure a keynote spot at relevant conferences – like Bett or Digifest.
Amplification and integration – the champion of classrooms and communications
Edtech has the potential to transform our education systems, but only if it becomes fully integrated into our classrooms. Technology on its own won’t work, there must be training and buy-in from schools and students. What’s more, if schools are to create a winning learning environment, they should embrace all aspects of edtech – from interactive lessons and apps, to automating reporting systems and safeguarding.
Similarly, marketing teams cannot rely on one channel alone to achieve their goal. It’s not just technology PR, the industry must integrate all marcomms efforts. Sending out a press release and expecting the right publications to pick it up isn’t enough.
Integrated campaigns help you stand out whether your goal is brand awareness or lead generation. It’s about taking one idea and making it cohesive across all channels; social media, on a company’s website as well as in the media. And, even if you are getting great coverage, but your company isn’t found on Google, you’re missing a trick. Ranking high on specific keywords is crucial.
Ultimately, a successful PR and marketing strategy for an edtech company will reflect the ethos of the industry it belongs to – focused on the future, creative and working best when integrated.
Read more about how our work for web-filtering firm Bloxx resulted in its acquisition. If you’re an edtech firm looking for PR and marketing support, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Stacey is an Account Executive for the tech team at Aspectus Group, with a degree in Education from Durham University.