ISTE Focus Groups, hosted annually by C. Blohm & Associates and The Winter Group, are a chance for educators to share their thoughts, opinions, and perceptions about educational technology, working with the vendor community, what’s working and what’s ahead.
We ask what they’re using in classrooms, what’s on their “to do” and “wish lists” next year, where they get their professional development, product information, and most important to you, how they respond to marketing and promotions.
In a series of three posts, we’re going to break down that feedback so that you can apply it to your new strategies for 2016.
First, we’ll hit the highlights. Here are our Top 10 ISTE Focus Group Tips for Vendors:
1. Teachers Talk
Educators learn about products from other educators. Many see these products at conferences, while others learn about them via email, print and digital journals, e-newsletters, catalogs and more. Wherever the first touchpoint happens, it is then relayed through district-wide social interaction. A well-coordinated outreach campaign with multiple channels is the surest way to be sure they’ll see your messages … somewhere.
2. Don’t Write Off Webinars
It’s tempting to think that webinars have lost some of their impact, but educators at ISTE confirm that these one-hour programs are crucial to their professional development. If it’s something they need or are interested in, they will come. In droves.
3. Conferences are Bigger Than Ever
Digital marketing channels are packed to the gills and highly competitive. Even educators appreciate cutting through the noise for some 1:1 time with vendors, and many make vendor meetings and exhibit hall time a priority.
4. Direct Mail Still Works (Seriously)
Mail still has power, and can be a breakthrough tactic for some vendors. You’d be surprised how many educators told us they still learn about products and services through direct mail.
5. On That Note, Don’t Rule Out Print, Either
For educators, part of digital citizenship is learning how to balance your online time with your offline time. Teachers like to disconnect too, and believe it or not, they still like to peruse journals and thumb through product catalogs. As one teacher put it, “we still need concrete things.”
6. Teachers. Share. Everything.
The title says it all. Educators look to each other and other thought leaders on social media, and they love to use and share your content. Make it as easy to download and share as possible!
7. Content and Engagement are PB & J
Educators are always on the lookout for great content on social: Twitter for the news, Pinterest for classroom ideas, and Google+ for 1:1 interaction. Administrators often use LinkedIn to connect with colleagues. Engage with them where they are.
8. “Twitter Chats” Is the New Buzz Term
Teachers are organizing on social and becoming influencers. Twitter is how they share information. Many of them organize their own monthly Twitter chats to compare notes in 140 characters. Figure out how to find them and point them in the right direction!
9. Happy Teacher Testimonials Are Your Most Valuable Marketing Tool
Educators value and trust what their colleagues say, and take each other’s experiences into account. Talk to them and turn those conversations into valuable case studies and content marketing assets.
10. It Really is Time to Go Mobile!
Online, the user experience is as crucial for educators as it is to anyone else. They’ll be accessing your website and emails with all sorts of devices, so be sure it’s a positive (and mobile-friendly) experience.