With London EdTech Week just around the corner, it’s a good time to review your marketing and communications, says Cleo Fatoorehchi, UCL EDUCATE’s marketing lead

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However long you’ve been involved in the EdTech world, it soon becomes clear that the sector has its own rhythm – and a cycle that revolves chiefly around the Bett Show in January, and London EdTech Week in June.

If you have a product to launch, a strategy to announce, or a service to test interest in, Bett is the place to do it.  Then you can strengthen the new partnerships, confirm enthusiasm for your product and explore your policy positions at the London EdTech Week.

Of course, you need to be ready if you are to take up all the opportunities that these two events offer. One element of that involves knowing where you are going with your business, who you want to talk to, and what you want to tell them.

What’s the plan for the near future?

First things first. What’s your organisational strategy and how can marketing and communications (marcomms) help you reach your goals?

Start by looking at your organisational goals, as this gives your thinking a structure that you are already familiar with – and is perhaps something you’ve already wondered about.

If one of your goals is to increase the uptake of your product in schools, for example, you can consider the ways in which marcomms can help you do this, including raising brand awareness in schools; increasing the number of teacher referrals; or engaging better with international schools.

Who is your audience?

Your marcomms goals should not be aimed at talking to everyone at once. Rather it is important to identify who your most important audiences are and to devise your plan to prioritise those messages.

To continue with our previous example, you need to think about whether you’ll have better results in talking to schools in general or to teachers, or to overseas headteachers.

Once you know who you are targeting, it gets easier to decide which channels to use to reach them. Where is your audience? Are they active on social media or do they prefer printed materials such as brochures? Do they peruse promotion-filled e-mails, or do they diligently read one education newspaper every day/week/month?

And keep digging: which social media, which newspaper, what time of the day, what day of the week, what type of social media posts or newspaper articles? At the core of marcomms is an understanding of your customer so that’s the time when you need to use all your empathy skills and put yourself in their shoes.

What’s your brand and tone of voice?

Last but not least (honestly, this section could have come first, but then I’d argue that the three questions are just as essential as one another), you cannot start engaging with your audience to get them to think, feel and do what you want if you aren’t sure about who you are yourself.

So, polish your messages: explain your business in 50, 100, 200 words; articulate what problem you are solving; and be clear about how you are solving that problem.

Now, whether you need to engage with teachers in 200 characters on social media or with headteachers in a 500-word op-ed in an education newspaper, you will have a consistent message that will resonate with your audience. They will start recognising your brand, which in turn will increase their trust in it. Once they trust you, half of the sales job is done!

One last word about where your brand fits in: obviously, you want to have a nice logo with engaging designs and a strong visual identity, but I recognise that this can take a long time, especially when you’re on a tight budget. My advice is to prioritise consistency. It doesn’t matter so much if you don’t have the money now to produce state-of-the-arts infographics or a fancy website, but make sure that wherever your brand appears, it has the same feel.

If you give your audience a brand with a consistent feel, a homogeneous tone of voice and a clear message, you can be sure they’ll remember you after they leave London EdTech Week.

Marcomms workshop:

The EDUCATE team has put together a special workshop to help you get your communications and marketing ready for the many events happening in London in June. Join us on 8 or 9 May 2019, 10am-1pm, at the Knowledge Lab. Sign up here.

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