This is the fifth post in a six-part series.
Before the advent of personal networking, teachers’ main source for professional opinions about educational products were the other teachers hanging out in the lounge during lunch or planning periods. The only regular contact administrators had with administrators from other schools might have been the occasional district-wide meeting or conference.
The truth is that we are all connected these days, which has added a new level of texture to our lives. This also has greatly impacted the process of purchasing. For the second year in a row, CB&A and Winter Group conducted in-depth focus groups with educators attending the annual ISTE conference. In our dialogue with panelists, we explored purchasing preferences, media and information habits, perceptions of new trends and challenges on the horizon, and engagement in social and other marketing media.
Industry publications, both print and online versions, are still informational anchors, but blogs and social media are gaining in influence and importance. Bloggers are on educators’ radar screens on a regular basis. A good article or resource gets shared. Personal learning networks and communities are increasingly valuable sources of information.
If a Google search doesn’t yield the necessary information, today’s educator has only to solicit opinions from networked friends and connections. For the investment of a few minutes of time, answers to a question will come rolling in from throughout the district, across the nation and around the world.
What does this mean for educational marketers?
For starters, be sure your social media presence is strong and updated consistently. Monitor the online pulse about of company and products. Encourage your “happy-user” customers to be proactive in sharing their positive experiences.
Create content that educators will want to share with others. As you become more experienced with social media, you’ll be drawn to take a more active role in online conversations.
And lastly, if a customer poses questions or shares concerns about your product, the best in the business recommend meeting those concerns head-on. Murphy’s Law states that a dissatisfied customer is likely to be socially connected to your three best prospects. Ignorance is not an option in this case – be proactive in customer relations.
Are there any other concerns that you’ve run into when dealing with a customer’s online presence?
Coming next are some insights regarding the “ideal” vendor from the viewpoint of the educators who participated in our focus groups.
Other posts in the series: