Sign up for this service, follow our script for all of your classroom instruction, and you’ll become a great teacher! That’s how one education software company attempted to target teachers and promised to turn “mediocre teachers” into good ones.
In other words, the company was essentially saying, “If you’re a mediocre teacher, we can do the teaching for you!”
Surprise, surprise: Teachers shunned the service. The software itself was well-built and worth the offered 30-day trial, but no one signed up.
The software company completely missed the boat by not respecting teachers. It implied that teaching is one-size-fits-all and that any teacher who signed up wasn’t a great teacher. It didn’t tap into the individuality of teachers, their passion, their hard work, their unique personalities and approaches, their sense of humor, or their pride.
Target Teachers the Right Way
When marketing to teachers, you can avoid the blunders of others by gaining teachers’ trust. Now that the back-to-school marketing season has come to a close, here’s a look at four marketing mistakes that lose teachers’ trust. Paired with each mistake is a more effective approach:
1. Dissing teachers
Teachers often feel under-appreciated — that others think they can be easily replaced like a cog in a wheel. But, this is far from true! As irreplaceable leaders, they want support from their communities. Did you know that teachers directly influence about 30 households’ buying habits? And that’s just at the elementary level. As kids get older, teachers have influence over hundreds of students and encourage them to purchase relevant books, apps, electronics, and educational products. Walmart is one retailer that shows regard for teachers. It developed engaging newsletters that teachers handed out to parents after summer break. With advice on how to build relationships with teachers, streamline the morning routine, and keep kids learning outside the classroom, the newsletters helped establish teachers as authoritative learning advisers. And parents were given numerous ways to work hand-in-hand with their children’s teacher. Tens of thousands of teachers signed up to receive these newsletters. Numbers like that are proof that teachers appreciate this marketing strategy. It doesn’t feel like a “strategy”; it feels like support.
2. Ignoring teachers’ sacrifices
The reality of teaching is that educators don’t really “get summers off” or “only work until 3 p.m.” These off-hand comments fail to recognize that teachers work long hours, sacrificing their own family time to create lesson plans, grade papers, attend parent-teacher conferences, communicate with families, and attend professional development seminars. As exhausted as they are, teachers don’t ask for much but would like to feel appreciated. Quill.com proved itself a favorite among teachers when it surprised a fifth grade teacher with $500 in school supplies to help him kick off his first year of teaching. You cannot watch the video without smiling and wanting to donate to a teacher. At Quill.com, it is understood that teachers make sacrifices every day, spending nearly 10 percent of their salaries on classroom supplies.
3. Using outdated advertising
Audiences change with the times; marketing must change as well. Unlike five years ago, nearly half of today’s teachers are Millennials. They turn to social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to swap stories, plan classroom activities, and perfect lesson plans. This month, the National Fire Protection Agency got the word out to teachers and their students about Fire Safety Month. It produced entertaining classroom videos about fire safety and promoted them through social media. In addition to creating a humorous video, the NFPA ignited awareness about its organization and illuminated the importance of planning ahead. The NFPA also incorporated fire safety games, put together a teacher website, and prepared activities that teachers could follow in their classrooms.
4. Speculating instead of being personal
Teachers aren’t Xerox copies of one another. To get to know them as individuals, a company mustn’t make assumptions — it has to get personal. On that front, Teachers’ Insurance Plan of NJ graduated top of its class. The Teachers’ Insurance Plan of NJ works to meet a personal need of teachers: cost-effective car insurance. When current and former teachers visit the insurance company’s website, they can even enter the NJ Teachers Lounge to find relatable stories from other teachers. There are sad tales, inspirational stories, and funny accounts of life as a teacher. The goal? To connect with teachers on a human level.
Teaching is not for the faint of heart. If you want to make the grade while marketing to teachers, you must put in the work, get personal, and address a real need. To turn your marketing F into an A+, the lesson is simple: Get to know America’s teachers.