Common EdTech Marketing Activities that Lose Money
Ever popular, but delivering poor ROI, here are 3 marketing activities you should be careful of
This week I’m exploring 3 things that represent poor ROI and that you should avoid unless you’ve reached scale (ie. you can afford to spend a PR / branding activities)
There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of what I’m going to talk about today, but when it comes for bang-for-buck, I believe they’re bad investments for smaller EdTech companies.
🏟 ❌ National Education Conferences and Trade Shows
BETT Show and The Academies Show are the 2 major education conferences in the UK, both of which I’ve really enjoyed attending and exhibiting at over the years.
They’re great events, but whether they’re the best thing for your company is another thing.
Let’s look at the counter arguments:
The Price: Although these conferences offer smaller, more affordable booths on the outside track, these end up as a footfall dead zones and if you walk them you’ll see a lot of glum looking companies. To benefit from the footfall these shows advertise, you need to be on one of the main paths so you’re looking at a 5-figure investment.
The Booth: Attention is everything and it’s not enough to have just a screen and some brochures. You’ve got to capture people’s attention as they walk past your stand, which adds more costs and more planning time.
The Need to Pre-Market: These shows are becoming so big that teachers plan their trips before they even set foot into the Excel Arena. BETT facilitate this through their curated trails, so it’s not enough to turn up and hope for people to drop by your booth. For best results, you’ve got to start marketing to schools 3 months before the show. That’s more time and investment.
The ‘CPDers’: With dozens of talks and headline speakers, are teachers coming to find their next solution or are they coming to get free CPD?
The ‘Day Outers’: It’s a fun day out, so it’s no surprise that many teachers go to simply take time away from school. Whether they’re actively looking for new solutions is another question…
Slow ROI: Schools need 7-13 touch points before they will buy your solution, so generally, whatever leads you generate from a big tradeshow are for next year’s pipeline. For smaller EdTechs, this puts a huge strain on cashflow as you will be looking at 12-18 months before you can achieve ROI.
Done well, they are very lucrative marketing channels but don’t underestimate the time investment you will need to put in. I rank BETT Show as a 4/5 difficulty level - it’s one of the hardest marketing activities you can do.
If you do want to exhibit at them, work with someone who is experienced in planning the campaign. It will make a huge difference to your ROI.
🎓Tip: Instead of paying the exhibition fee, invest in running your own webinars and developing content so schools find you. This is far more cost effective and helps you build a long-term competitive advantage. I wrote about this here.
💵 ❌ Joining Paid Educational Associations
These associations can be a great source of knowledge and learning if you’re not that familiar with your target audience, but in terms of their ability to connect you with schools, it’s often very limited.
The reason for this is that their members, whether they’re school leaders, business managers, or subject specialists, don’t join these associations to meet EdTech companies.
Most associations will offer you the opportunity to present or advertise to their members, but this often comes at an extra charge on top of your sponsorship fee.
The larger the organisation, the more expensive things can get with no guarantee of sales.
🎓 Tip: Instead of paying to join an Association, build your own referral programme to grow your reach. I wrote about how you can get started on this here (see Bonus Section).
🧐 Generate More School and Trust leads
If you want to explore how you could grow your EdTech company, whether that’s improving your marketing, selling to MATs or even raising investment, you can learn more and book free 45 minute discovery call.
If after the call you’d like to work together, it only costs from £99 per month and there’s no long-term commitment.
🏢 ❌ Partnerships with Larger (Corporate) EdTechs
This is going to sound counter-intuitive but the larger the EdTech company, the poorer they generally become at partnering to marketing new solutions.
Over last 10 years, I’ve developed partnerships with Apple, Google, Microsoft, BETT, Pearson, Hodder, Promethean, SMART and many more, for my own companies as well as others.
The only one that worked was Apple, because they have a dedicated team (and mega budget) for engaging schools every quarter. My company at the time (LearnMaker) was a key part of their events campaign.
With the rest, we ended up being a tiny cog in a huge machine, where the marketing was left to the sales team who already had a full plate with their own targets.
🎓 Tip: When going into a partnership, agree the specific deliverables that the larger company is going to provide. They will talk about ‘marketing’ your solution, but this often ends up as a small section on a brochure or website so be careful.
Unless you have buy in from the Head of Marketing upfront, you’re not likely to be featured in email campaigns or at their events.
As always, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it!
Best regards, Jay
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