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November 11, 2020  |  Larry Buchweitz

Update: Education Marketing in a Pandemic

Earlier this year I wrote a piece about Education Marketing in a Pandemic. By analyzing our history during the Great Recession, I theorized on what the future may hold. Unfortunately, there are still many questions up in the air. Yet, after a few more months of insight from industry friends and customers, there are a few things I know for certain:

 

Marketing Data is Essential

Often when companies are faced with cuts to costs and operations, they look at marketing and sales first. However, when that happens, it causes even bigger challenges down the road. For example, in the last recession, companies that didn’t create and implement retention strategies for specific segments of their customer base discovered that the attrition of current customer revenue impacted growth. Using enhanced marketing data to profile your customers now provides the intelligence you need to create a solid retention strategy that will no doubt promote growth later.

 

Prospecting Remains Important 

In addition to creating retention strategies, companies who reduced or eliminate prospecting also experienced an impact on their growth. Businesses that consistently invest in growing their customer base have continued to see progress even in the current environment.

Stay patient and persistent with leads that have potential. Integrate the insight generated by profiling your customer segments into your prospecting strategies. The companies that maintained prospecting during past economic downturns experienced accelerated growth quicker during the upswing than companies that didn’t.

 

Added Value Leads to Added Business

Education businesses providing extra value have built relationships that will last long after budgets have recovered. Whether that value is through special pricing, free trials, online solutions and downloads, or some other offer, if it keeps schools with limited resources operating, you’ll see long-term benefits.

 

What I Would Do Now

  • Follow the money. My colleague Lynn Schear is monitoring funding changes closely, specifically Cares Act funding, and it’s reflected in our database. Take into account where districts have distributed the funds and integrate this information into your marketing strategies.
  • Take advantage of tracking tools and datasets. Our research team is updating our School Districts Status Map to help you stay on top of how students are being instructed, temporary closings, investment in technology, among other stats. We continue to add data regularly as new information as it emerges.
  • Present marketing as an investment. Compile solid research and backing for executives looking to cut the marketing budget. There are numerous case studies showing that long-term risks heavily outweigh the short-term benefits of “going dark.” While you may have to compromise, having facts to support your marketing spend will go a long way with budget decision makers.
  • Understand your customers. Make sure you know why they buy from you and when. Reach out to those you know in person or by email, but be aware of their current priorities and challenges they are facing. For those you don't know well, but want to know better, use social platforms to share your support and concern by following them, commenting on their content, and sharing messages of encouragement.
  • Think about where you will grow when the upturn occurs. What do you and your business need to do to be ready for something like this again? Where do you have the best success as a business, and how can you find more customers like the ones who value you most? Are you typically using that strategy to identify new prospects? (I can help you use your own data to do that.)
  • Think globally, act locally. Knowing your growth strategy may be adjusted due to the current situation, what can you do to better target specific states, counties, or districts? Are you customizing your messaging and strategies to address local needs and priorities? Now is a good time to do that.

 

After almost an entire year of uncertainty, there is one thing I know for sure; people persevere. Challenging times often lead to meaningful innovation and growth.

Now that schools are functioning with interim plans, decision makers are also thinking toward the future. They have students to educate and spending plans to put in place. Let's all strive to be part of the solution by looking at how we can adapt and evolve to meet the needs of our greatest asset – our kids.

I can’t wait until next summer where I’ll be at Wrigley Field in the left-field bleachers and going to hear live music again.  I missed seeing Dead & Co, Zac Brown, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Los Lobos, and Emmylou Harris.

What do you miss?  I’m here if you want to chat about your business, music recommendations, and always, the Cubs.

 

Be well,
Larry Buchweitz, VP Business Development

Larry Buchweitz, VP Business Development

 

 

 

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