Digital entrepreneur Bryan Plumb is building an online 'satnav' for education marketing - with earlybird benefits
It’s supposed to be the age of the edtech startup, with innovative education companies working with schools to develop exciting new services that break new ground. But schools are inundated with information from all quarters, so how can companies communicate effectively with them?
EdAcademy is a new online service to help keep companies with worthy products out of schools’ trash folders. For a modest subscription they can join a community that offers lessons honed to the needs of those at the sharp edge of learning and teaching. It's a subscription service, and earlybirds who register an interest will get early access, a lifetime discount and invites to an exclusive launch party in London on November 1.
Bryan Plumb, known for his digital marketing work with bee-seen (co-creator of this website), describes the new venture as a way to "level the playing field" in education marketing, so that the most pervasive voices heard by schools are no longer those with the biggest budgets. "It's an online marketing and sales training platform," he explains, "a membership website that companies can join to benefit from the experience we have had in almost a decade of marketing in the education sector, and not just in the edtech area.
'Video-based lessons that hand-hold people through marketing'
Who are those people most in need of EdAcademy's services? Bryan Plumb explains: "It's for anyone who sells products and services into schools, colleges and universities. In the platform itself we give people access to video-based lessons, with new lessons every month, Most lessons have fully editable worksheets and we hand-hold people through every single step of the marketing process.
"We have interviews with leading education and marketing experts. Live Q&A (question and answer) sessions, walk-throughs and webinars, with discounts that are exclusive to us for both education and marketing services. There will also be online and networking events with journalists, educators and experts, plus access to our team of education marketers. So everyone gets access to the team and I to make sure that what they are doing is working for them. And if they are stumped by anything then we are here to help.
"Later down the line we'll be launching a piloting service too where a pool of interested schools will be available for companies that want to have a product tested."
Customers range from startups to big companies with marketing departments
Two kinds of companies are likely clients for EdAcademy. The first are the small startups and emerging groups. They can acess it and they don't have to be marketing experts. They probably have multiple hats; they might be owners, or sales people who also has to do marketing.They can get all the information they need to go out and market their product.
The second will be bigger companies that already have a marketing team. "We offer them a different service where managements will be able to have a bird's-eye view of how their teams are performing. They can see the lessons taken and the results of tests and quizzes taken. This ensures they are doing everything they need to do, as companies, to the very best of their abilities.
"What makes us different is that this isn't just a generic marketing platform; every single feature of EdAcademy is specifically tailored for those marketing to the education sector. It's about taking a tailored approach that integrates the unique dynamics of education marketing - and that is why it's effective.
EdAcademy focuses on four key areas of marketing to schools: the first is their content, the second audience acquisition, the third conversion and the fourth engagement and retention. "Ultimately what we ask companies," says Bryan Plumb, "is 'Have you got amazing, high-quality content at all levels? Have you got an audience that is coming to your website and seeing this content, and is that interest being converted? Are they using that content, downloading it and asking for demos?
"If the answers are 'Yes', then the next questions are: 'How are you engaging them and maintainind the relationship?' and 'How do they move from being customers to brand advocates?'
"That is the essential process, putting products and services out there on a strategic route to engaging people who are initially strangers but who become happy customers and brand advocates."
'We have worked with huge brands as well as startups'
What can customers get from EdAcademy that they can't get elsewhere? "We have worked in the education sector for nearly a decade," says Bryan Plumb, "with huge brands as well as small startups. We are also part of a much larger, networked marketing agency. So the training we offer is based on proven methodologies. Whether we are using Facebook, messaging or YouTube or automated email campaigns, it's all based on proven, effective practices with our specific e3xperience and expertise thrown into the mix.
"We don't discourage our collaborators from working with other associations, many of whom are brilliant. What we offer is a very structured, direct route to market. It doesn't matter if you have made few, or no, sales, if you have a good product and believe that it's among the best out there (it's just that people don't know) or you are in about 30 per cent of schools and you think how can we improve that to maybe 40 or 50 per cent - we offer routes that you can't get anywhere else."
Social networking is increasingly important and Bryan Plumb and his team already have experience in this from the work with bee-seen. Every EdAcademy lesson follows the core structure, and within that are a host of elements and techniques and common-sense aids (for example a Template for the Perfect Press Release).
"The array includes Facebook Messenger for automated marketing to bring people in," explains Bryan Plumb. "We use everything from older, proven methodologies to the most modern, emerging ones. And we don't present lessons on anything we haven't done ourselves - tested, tried and proven.
'Stop banging on about your product and listen to the educators'
At a time when schools bombarded with information and demands, how can EdAcademy make it easier for clients to get their messages noticed? "It's about knowing your audience," replies Bryan Plumb. " It's just not good enough to say, 'Well, I sell to secondary teachers.' What do you actually know about those teachers and the ways they work, and what their pain points, challenges, goals and aspirations are are?
'Stop banging on about your product and listen to the educators. They don't want an ear-bashing about the ins and outs of a product - what they want to hear is how it can help with what they do, learning and teaching. You are trying to build a mutually beneficial relationship that is based on real needs.
"Let's talk not about the product but about the transformation educators require. Don't say 'Our maths product has 25,000 questions - no one cares about that. They want to know what difference it will make for their students. So discuss how it can produce results for the learners and teachers.
"That's what the key shift has to be for companies: that they are reacbing out to the right kind of teacher, with the right kind of message at the right point for that particular teacher. We are not trying for a hard sell but to build relationships based on real needs and solutions."
Register an interest at EdAcademy.co
Or visit EdAcademy.co/launch-party to attend the London launch party in Clerkenwell to get exclusive one-off discounts! When: 6pm, November 1. Where: MalMaison, 18-21 Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6AH (online registration essential)
EdAcademy on Twitter: @Ed_Academy