The education industry is one of the biggest in the US, totaling a massive $1.2 trillion in expenditures (that’s 7.2% of the country’s entire GDP).
But, while it’s still a massive industry, it’s currently in a state of flux as next-generation learning tools redefine the definition of “education” and what it looks like for students all around the world. Today, more students than ever are saying goodbye to the trusty pen and paper and instead turning to more engaging and immersive learning experiences.
With the education technology sector continuing to rise (it’s thought it will grow 17% a year to $252 billion by 2020), it’s not looking like it’s going to slow down any time soon.
But there’s an issue. The people that B2B education brands are selling to – the teachers – aren’t actually the decision-makers when it comes to buying. Instead, this task is reserved for administration staff, even though they’re not the ones using the product. Because there are so many stakeholders involved in the B2B education world, marketing becomes more of an intricate and sensitive game.
Here’s what you need to do to in order to keep up with the current pace of the B2B education world when it comes to marketing.
1. Consider Your Audience
Like in any industry, your audience comes first. You can’t start building out a marketing strategy without knowing who you’re planning on reaching at the end of it.
Again, marketing B2B education products is slightly tricky because there are different people to satisfy, from school district leaders, to parents, teachers, and the students themselves. So how do you even begin to market to all of these very different and very distinct groups?
The answer is simple: start by targeting one group at a time.
Even if your end goal is to seal a deal with the school district, if you have the teachers on your side and singing your praises, you’re going to have a much easier time converting.
2. Video Marketing
Video marketing has become a prominent marketing technique in multiple industries, and the B2B education world is no different.
The reason it’s so popular is because we’re now living in an age where people want to consume content as quickly as possible. That means ditching pages of text for snappy videos that can be dipped in and out of on-the-go.
The Khan Academy does a great job at using video in their marketing strategy.
They create really digestible videos that are just 5 or 10 minutes long – which is long enough to tell a story but short enough to keep the attention span of consumers.
As well as keeping their videos short, the brand also make their content easy to find. That is, they don’t just post it on their website; they post it to YouTube too (which, if you didn’t know, is the second biggest search engine in the world).
2. Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing has overtaken the traditional direct marketing methods of serving up ads and trying to turn cold leads into buyers.
Instead, it provides educational content that can be consumed at every step of the buyer’s journey. This is perfect for B2B education brands because there are so many stakeholders to please. Each and every one of them is going to have objections at some stage in the buying cycle which can cause a bottleneck, holdups, and in the end have a hugely detrimental impact on sales.
But, if you’re creating engaging content at every step of the funnel, you’re quickly going to tackle those objections and keep all the stakeholders moving quickly down the sales funnel.
For example, at the top of the funnel, you might create compelling videos, infographics, and ebooks to capture emails addresses. At the middle of the funnel you can share content such as case studies, data sheets, webinars, and demo videos. For bottom of the funnel users, use content like trial downloads, company philosophy information, and live demos..
Each type of content serves a different purpose and taps into the consumer’s needs at a specific stage of the funnel, encouraging to go from one step to the next.
3. Focus on the Solution
Your product probably has loads of awesome features that you can’t wait to shout about, but unfortunately this isn’t want your audience are going to be interested in (or, at least, it’s not going to be what they’re most interested in).
Instead, the stakeholders you’re trying to reach want to know how your product can make their lives easier. Every message you send out with your marketing should revolve around highlighting the solution that your product provides.
In fact, this is where a lot of B2B education brands fall short, and they end up failing to communicate how their product can solve a problem.
Take Google Apps for Education, for example.
Instead of relaying a punchy, buzzword-riddled tagline like “cloud-based collaborative learning platform”, they focus on the problem their product solves. They describe themselves as “a suite of free productivity tools for classroom collaboration”, which is much more effective because it shows the problem it solves (classroom productivity) and how it does that (via collaboration).
4. Create Authentic Experiences
Consumers these days are less trusting of marketing in any industry, and this translates into the B2B education world as well.
Add to this the fact that most of your audience will have spent their entire lives online, and you’ll understand why more people than ever are seeking out authentic experiences with brands.
There’s a reason people buy from brands that have the same values as them, and a reason why more consumers are willing to pay more to have a deeper connection with their favorite brands.
“They expect authenticity, entertaining interactions and experiences that provide what they need before they tell you,” says Lisa Box of WP Engine in this Forbes piece. “Marketers have to evolve from informing to delighting, from celebrity to authenticity and from generic to predictive.”
Storytelling is your best friend here.
Fuel your marketing with real life stories from other teachers, students, and stakeholders that have used your product and loved it.
Your Marketing Needs to Evolve With the B2B Education World
The B2B education world is dramatically changing by the year. We’re seeing more tools and immersive learning experiences popping up than ever before, and it’s clear that the industry as a whole is evolving at an almost alarming rate.
As a marketer in this industry, it’s important that you stay on top of trends and create marketing strategies that answer objections and are easily digestible and authentic.