This is the third post in a six-part series.
A by-product of the now-famous “apps budget” discussion that occurred during one of our ISTE 2012 focus groups was this question: How does this kind of expenditure affect the traditional purchasing cycle for schools? App Budgets’ Might Just Be the Tip of the Iceberg
Those in the business of education know that the traditional hot time for purchasing in the standard buying cycle tends to be late spring or early summer, when budgets have been established based on (theoretical) enrollment numbers. And that probably also is true for large-ticket items such as learning management systems and software suites. The Five Key Phases of the District Buying Cycle
But with the advent of the iPad lab (also a late spring expenditure, by the way) comes the need for apps to fill those labs. Since apps cost significantly less cost than traditional software packages, funding can come from sources other than the general capital fund. This presents the possibility of a year-round purchasing cycle for these items. As Linda Winter of the Winter Group (who co-hosted the ISTE focus groups with us) said during our EdNET 2012 Birds of Feature Roundtable session: “Back to school is now a year-round opportunity.” Winter Group
What those other funding sources may be depends on the school or district, but rest assured that educational buyers are very creative in how they find the funds they need.
Apps are not the only small-ticket items that have shifted the purchasing model. Teachers increasingly are seeking out supplemental materials to use in their classrooms. These materials could be worksheets or online resources, which, in the teacher’s opinion, better address one of the standards in the Common Core. Perhaps a teacher would like to use a particular Kindle Single in his or her class – short stories or long-form journalism are available from Amazon for as little as 99 cents. Whatever the desire, these expenditures often come out of a teacher’s discretionary classroom budget, which means the “purchase” button can be clicked at any time during the school year. And once we’ve deviated from the standard buying cycle, further deviations are likely.
The long-term implications for educational vendors won’t be known for at least another buying cycle or two. Meanwhile, consider re-evaluating your marketing allocation – getting your message out to the buying public throughout the school year may help you capture some of these new sales opportunities.
What other implications can you see for companies marketing to educators in this seasonal shift? Have you experienced them yourself? We’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, coming next in this series is a primer on the most popular two-word phrase of our focus groups: Common Core.
Other posts in the series: