At the 2014 Pre K-12 Learning Group Master Class event in New York on April 7, The Realities of ROI in a World of Edtech and Social Media, Kevin McAliley, CEO of Think Through Math, and Dana Truby, Director of Social Media for MDR Professional Services, talked with attendees about the evolving state of the learning resource industry. While education is undergoing many changes, from the new market contenders to how we talk to our customers, both believe these trends can benefit instructional materials developers because the changes represent new opportunities to reach educators and students.
Key characteristics of the new education landscape:
- Instructional materials are now being used 24/7, so there is a huge need for quality content.
- There is no longer room on the shelf (or funding), though, for schools to buy several products covering the same learning objectives. Companies need to get in on the beginning of the buying cycle to make sure that they are the first choice for sales.
- However, don’t get into spec wars with competitors, trying to one-up the features that you could possibly develop for your new product. Customers will have done their own research on alternatives to your product; your best approach is to show them the value of your product to the student.
- Because schools aren’t buying as many materials, quality and results are key. Administrators want products with an engaging user experience aligned to their learning goals that advance student achievement. And schools need proof that the products work. Resources must supply data and metrics that can prove efficacy.
- With the growth of educator influence over purchases, loyalty needs to be cultivated at the classroom level. Social media is a great way to reach out to teachers, but 80-85% of the conversation needs to be about them with only 15-20% about the company.
- One mistake many companies make is to try and work in too many social media channels. Focusing on one channel and building your connections there is the best investment.
Gone are the days of short-term ROI, said McAliley. Companies need to focus their strategies on long-term customer relationships and invest in materials that bring customers back. While there are many start-ups making a splash with their ideas, they will need to delve deeper into the culture and needs of the PreK-12 community in order to have a sustained presence in the market.