No market lives in isolation. Teachers buy classroom materials, but they also buy shoes, snacks, gasoline, and home computers. The experiences they have in one market will often set expectations in all markets. Today, technology enables one-click, perfectly made-to-order, satisfaction delivered within moments. Major consumer brands are pulling out all the stops to deliver experiences that grab market share. Those experiences are training your educators.
There is no better microcosm to observe where buyer expectations are set than your local grocery or convenience store. There is a bloody battle for every square inch of shelf space. Shockingly, nearly all of the goods on grocery store shelves are supplied by just ten to fifteen organizations. They hire the best and the brightest to secure their billions in revenue.
In the world of the major consumer brands, marketers focus on owning every step on a buyer’s path-to-purchase. After the first transaction, the mission becomes locking-in lifetime value through brand engagement. Their programs are designed to educate consumers, gather data that informs next best action, and connect with buyers on a deeper level. At the root, their programs deliver relevancy. That is because what’s familiar is favored.
In the movie Minority Report actor Tom Cruise walks into a clothing store and is ectronically recognized, Audio pipes in, welcomes him by name, and asks him how he liked his last purchase of slacks. As he passes through the store the digital signage morphs to suggested next purchases that relate to his tastes and sizes. It’s personal, effortless, and relevant. That futuristic depiction is presently unfolding in the real world. Today malls are testing signage that changes based on facial recognition software. RFID connects users with technology. Many online retailers give these personal experiences today.
What does this mean for education marketers? Your buyers are being trained. Whether at home or on the job, expectations don’t alter. Therefore, if you borrow from strategies from the biggest consumer brands, more buyers will likely gravitate towards you – and stay with you. Start with the basics by delivering relevant communications.
Relevancy relies on Intelligent use of data driving effective interaction with buyers and influencers. It includes these three essential components:
- How accurately does the content reflect their experience? How does it generate a sense that you “see” them and value them? In what ways can you personalize the content?
- Does a teacher is just starting their career have the same needs or interests as a teacher one year in, or near end of their career?
- How do demographics influence them? What are the key challenges and thus needs? What kind of discretionary versus program-focused funding do they have to work with?
- Do they have buying authority for the products and services you promote or are they essential influencers?
- How well does your content and offer align with their life?
- Welcoming a new teacher is great. Not so relevant six months to one year later.
- How does time of year affect the use of funds?
- Are you speaking in the same voice, with the same level of familiarity wherever buyers connect with your brand?
- Are you reaching both influencers and decision makers with a similar “why-to-buy?”
- If referral from other educators is a key driver, how are you educating both customer and prospect on your product benefits?
Relevancy relies of fresh, accurate data. The accuracy of data has significant impact on context. Bad data limits your ability to effectively personalize. If the content and the audience don’t align, you risk creating a negative experience. Freshness of data has significant impact on timing. If data lags, it prevents you from engaging appropriately as opportunities emerge. Your data strategy is essential to meeting buyer expectations.
The stage is set
The conveniences that have evolved from the digital world have become second nature and influence our expectations. Of course, buyers new to the market have never experienced a time without the relevant and real time conveniences these technologies bring. Major consumer brands are working every angle to raise the bar on relevancy – finding new ways to set expectations and be there first to meet them. Educators are consumers too and they are well trained.
What are your strategies for engaging buyers and influencers in the education market? How does your data strategy support relevancy? Are you relying on the freshest most accurate data for your communications? Talk with an MCH data expert 800-776-6373.