For the CB&A’s education marketing team and our clients, the ISTE conference provides an annual reminder of why we work in the education industry. As allies in the mission to provide high-quality education, we aim to improve the lives of teachers and students alike.
As a part of this mission, CB&A joined forces with the Winter Group to co-host “Policy and a Chaser” during the 2017 ISTE conference. Special guest Brendan Desetti, Director of Education Policy at SIIA, provided an overview of the current state of federal education policy. Attendees left the 90-minute session with a better understanding of how to support K-12 districts in our new political climate.
To kick-off this four-part series, here are some broad takeaways from Policy and a Chaser to help you prepare for upcoming policy and funding big-picture changes. Stay tuned for more in-depth posts on some of these topics and their impact on education marketing.
President Trump’s 2018 budget is only a proposal at this point. Brendan Desetti urges both ed tech vendors and educators to remember that the budget is still flexible, and there is a long runway to plan for any funding changes. When communicating with districts, remind them that this proposed budget is not yet reality. Also take this time to explore alternate pricing and packaging plans that can fit into new school funding models. Additionally, establish where your customers are finding their funding to purchase your product so that you can better identify alternative funding methods. For example, are schools using federal Title II professional development funds or state level funds?
Brush up on timing
As districts plan for the upcoming school year, they should focus on fiscal year (FY) 2017, rather than FY 2018. Because school years operate under a different timeline than the federal government’s fiscal year, districts receive funding on the July 1 following the October 1 fiscal year start. So, districts have just received their FY17 funds on July 1, 2017 for the 2017-18 school year. If educators express concern about future budget changes, remind them that it will be a long time until any funding changes take place from the current proposed budget.
It’s up to the education community to advocate for its own funding needs. Grass-roots efforts will be integral to persuading key decision-makers that education programs are valuable and worth investing in. For example, a 15 percent cut has been proposed for Career and Technical Education (CTE) funding, in marked contrast to the 15 percent increase in demand these programs have experienced.
Keep staff and customers informed
Ed tech vendors can prepare for budget changes by keeping their staff informed about education spending. Understand how districts are getting the money to buy your product, and work with them to find appropriate funding streams. It is also important to consider next steps if you are mid-contract with a school system when budget changes are announced. As more budget news comes down the pike, adjust messaging and conversations accordingly.
To navigate this shifting fiscal landscape successfully, it’s vital to stay informed and work with education leaders as much as possible. Now is the time to remind districts and states that your company is dedicated to high-quality education for all.
In the coming weeks, we’ll unpack this further and explain how exactly you can be an effective advocate for education, the best resources to stay informed and creative sales and contract tactics to help customers find appropriate funding sources to include in your education marketing materials.
Need a strategic partner to develop communications and an education marketing campaign in response to potential budget changes? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.