A Review of EdNET 2018

By Maggie Bittner – EdNET Conference Manager

Wow…what a great EdNET 2018 season we had this year!  We hosted three sold out education marketing events in September: in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Engaging speakers, engaging topics, engaged attendees.

All walked away with a ton of great tactics and ideas to help them build their brands with educators. There were unique topics featured, that should be strong considerations for education marketing success, including SEO optimization, influencer marketing, the importance of the school sales cycle…and more.

Did you miss out on EdNET this year?  Checkout our top ten countdown of highlights, and some key takeaways:

10. Why influencer marketing will shake up your marketing playbook

The direct impact of teachers on students, parents, other educators, and their community is unmatched. Influencer marketing is changing the business of education.  There’s a difference between micro and macro influencers’ involvement in brand advocacy, and the efficacy of various social media.

Want an example?  How about trying a surprise and delight campaign? Send a group of influencers a care package filled with your brand’s products and swag with special messaging to encourage sharing on their social channels, creating viral, organic digital content surrounding your brand.  This will tap into the influencer’s engaged, loyal audience to drive traffic and raise awareness about your products and offerings.  Yeah, this is one of our favorites too!

9. Keep the realities of the school sales cycle in mind

Getting your product or service into the classroom isn’t always a simple, cut and dry process. You might be surprised to learn that marketing to schools and educators isn’t a once per year touch-point, but is rather the relationship you nurture year-round. There are different stages of the school purchasing cycle to consider, along with the times of the year that educators are most likely to engage with your brand’s marketing messages. So, look beyond back to school when considering your campaign planning.

8. How to optimize your SEO strategy for the education industry

Do you know what exactly makes educators click, buy and recommend products or services?  Well, we do! There are key components to every piece of content targeted at educators – can you save them time, help them work smarter?  The goal is to create engaging campaigns and capture their attention, not put them to sleep…it’s all about them (and it should be!).

7. What educators think about the learning environments they teach in

Here’s a shocking stat…45% of all current, public schools were built between 1950 and 1969. Meaning…most schools in the U.S. are over 50 years old! This also means they were designed without the infrastructure to support the amount of technology used in the classroom today, or to support the sheer number of students walking through the doors – making many schools crowded and outdated. Teaching methods, technology, and learning are changing at a rapid pace, and the physical learning environment needs to adapt to this new model. Knowing how the spaces students learn in affects their learning is key to planning campaigns and products.

Here’s a simple thought.  You may come up with a great new tech product you know teachers need and will help students, but will the classroom have the outlets to support the power?  Get the details on how to plan accordingly with MDR’s most recent State of the K-12 Market report The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success. 

6. How to become more culturally sensitive to your target audience’s needs

We live in a world with many different cultures. A smart brand develops outreach initiatives, communications, and a marketing strategy to incorporate diverse audiences, including underrepresented groups. If your marketing efforts extend to an audience with a different culture than your own, it is a wise decision to involve someone on your team who understands that culture, and knows if the messages you are sending are appropriate. Sometimes simple things can be interpreted in ways you may not predict, so becoming aware of the cultural differences in your target audience is a great way to show you understand their needs.

5. Why the school’s larger community is so important and how to be a good neighbor

Who better to tell education marketers what they want than a teacher!  EdNET attendees heard straight from the horses (or teachers!) mouth on how we should pay more attention to what’s going on in the education world and school communities.  Getting direct feedback from a teacher who understands their students needs is incredibly valuable, so involve them in your research, your marketing, and even in your branding. Be a good neighbor by keeping the larger community in mind when planning your relationships with schools and educators.

4. Professional Development tips to navigate the ever-shifting education marketing landscape

Many marketers in the educational industry have advanced degrees in education or specific subject-matter, but not necessarily in marketing. In other words, you have a Communications Degree, but not a Digital Marketing Degree, Social Media Management Degree/etc. Even those who do have an educational background in marketing are faced with an ever-shifting landscape, which can seem almost impossible to navigate. Lifelong learning requires a knowledge not only of your domain, but of the tools available to you to keep up to date on the latest research, technology, and happenings in your field. There are tons of free and inexpensive professional certifications to help supplement your professional development.

Here are just a few:  BrainStation, InLearning, Grow with Google

3. From research to practice: Technology’s power to unlock opportunities for all students

Research, research, research.  This is an under-utilized resource that all marketers should be including in their planning.  One large corporation learned with research, that while the use of technology in teaching has increased over the past five years, educators still face major barriers to equipping students with the technology skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.  Seems simple right?  Wrong.  Without the research conducted, this company would have gone in a completely different direction strategically.

2. Valuing the teacher’s voice by creating brand ambassadors for your educational platform

Brand ambassadors are our most valuable asset.  They represent our products and/or services in a positive light to help us to increase brand awareness and sales. This is an increasing trend in the education technology industry and has many advantages not only to the companies represented, but the brand ambassadors themselves. From an EdTech standpoint, it helps ensure EdTech platforms are being used the way the developers intended, and teacher ambassador “hype” over a product, in turn creates a community of advocates that support a product through word of mouth.

1. Trusting teachers is key to education industry success

Educators are true believers in their mission, and they expect that you will be, too. This commitment to a cause among your target audience demands that your business culture, and conduct, rise to the occasion. This sense of mission is a theme that we’ve heard again and again from educators—and those advising on how best to connect with educators—that authenticity is key to marketing to an audience that takes to heart the mission of educating the next generation.

Whether through product demonstrations, pilot programs, or ongoing feedback, Teachers voices should be a critical component of your research and ongoing relationship with schools. Support and empower teachers, by understanding the realities of their profession, and how you can help them do their jobs better.

Checkout all the great things our attendees had to say from our survey about this years’ EdNET!

“After years of attending EdNET conferences all over the country, I found EdNET 2018 in Chicago a refreshing new experience. It was great to get all of the updates on the latest trends in marketing and selling to schools in one jam-packed day and without having to incur the time and expense of long-distance travel. Plus, I loved the fact that all three of the EdNET 2018 conferences were held on college campuses around the country!”

“It was a great event – well organized and informative.”

“The logistics for the event were easy and the event ran smoothly. The event was well attended and there were lots of different perspectives represented. I got a lot out of the sessions and wished there had been more time in some cases for discussion. All in all high scores. I would have paid more for the event.”

“Grateful for the accessibility of the speakers, aka going up to chat with them afterwards, the advice that they gave in person, and the willingness to connect outside of and beyond EdNET.”

“It was a really great experience and I really appreciated what you guys do with professional development. You guys have been one of the top companies I use to learn about the industry.”

“Overall I thought the conference was excellent and the venue met the needs of the group perfectly.”

We understand you may be bummed if you missed EdNET this year. Don’t fret! Stay in the loop to get all the details for our upcoming EdNET 2019 events.