There are plenty of education startups that have become highly successful. From the total curriculum learning system of Plato to computer-assisted learning programs that supplement student classroom learning, to entire curriculum packages for parents who are home-schooling, to higher education opportunities, technology has transformed the learning process in many ways.
Add to these the advent of fully online high school and college programs, and we are looking at a revolution in the way education is delivered across the planet.
Obviously, this is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace of EdTech and to design programs that meet the multiple needs of the “new” student.
Designing/Developing and Marketing Are Two Distinct Functions
You may have an astounding education startup – one that will meet the specific needs and desires of students and/or parents all over the globe. But if you do not market that solution correctly, you will never get off the ground.
Here are 10 marketing techniques you can use to actually get off the ground (and they are rather budget-friendly).
- Build a Network
If you have been in education as a career, you probably have a network, and some of them may be influencers. Or, you may have used educational consultants as you developed your startup. They may be influencers themselves, may be part of large educational communities, and/or may have access to key influencers.
There are also tools, like Buzzsumo, which will allow you to find influencers in educational niches. All you have to do is enter keywords related to your startup and see who are other “major players” in that niche. Then, you can follow them, connect with them, and, ultimately, achieve publicity and endorsements.
- Start Small with Social Media
Identify a very narrow demographic to target in the beginning. Ask the question, “Who are the people or institutions that would be most interested in my product or service?” and “where do they hang out online?” Social media is a great venue but you should target the right platforms and no more than two in the beginning.
- If you are targeting institutions or influencers, then you want to be on LinkedIn and joining every group related to education.
- While Facebook is everyone’s first thought for social media marketing, you will want to consider others. Snapchat admittedly caters to a younger audience, but it has two advertising features – sponsored geofilters and sponsored stories. If your EdTech startup is targeting a younger audience (e.g., college students), you should explore these. And all of the new features of Instagram should be explored as well – it has diversified demographics, but they can be targeted specifically.
If you are targeting students and/or parents, then you will want to be on forums in which they are members.
You will have no difficulty finding forums. Just Google home-schooling, college student, etc. forums, for example, and see how many thousands pop up.
- Contact Decision-Makers at Educational Institutions
Every school district and college/university has a website. And those websites include the email addresses of administrators and department heads with your product or service. These individuals are not as “unreachable” as you might think. Request a meeting for a demonstration.
Access blogs that your target audience frequents. They exist in virtually every aspect of education. Join and become a contributor to discussions. Ultimately, become a contributor too. While you don’t want to directly promote your startup, you certainly can become known as an expert in this area, and provide links to your website.
- Your Own Blog
Here is where you can demonstrate your authority in your education sub-niche but also provide readers with the value of what you offer. Remember, people are looking to solve their problems. Consider the example of Primo Toys, a UK EdTech startup, targeting children in the 3 -6-year-old age range. They offer products that teach technology and coding to the very young. Their blog is an amazing resource for parents and educators, and they often have guest bloggers from the teaching community to provide their experiences with the products.
- Live streaming
If your product or service lends itself to live streaming, this marketing method is powerful. You can live stream students, teachers, or parents engaged with your products or services. Facebook, of course, launched live streaming in 2016, and Twitter soon followed suit. You can link to a live stream feed from your Twitter posts. The key is to make your live stream authentic, and informal and, of course, announce it in advance.
- Targeted Advertising
You know how this works. Your search for a particular product or service and, all of a sudden, in your Facebook feed, there are ads for these types of products or services. This is all a matter of using analytics correctly and segmenting out audiences for targeted advertising.
- Offer Free Trials and Discounts
If you EdTech startup is a for-profit business, then offering these things is nothing new. But it bears repeating because it is the way you generate interest. And ask for feedback from those recipients that you can use on your website and social media platforms.
- Get Your Startup Listed in Online Directories
There are bunches of these, and many will have categories that relate directly to your sub-niche or to educational innovations in general. Do the research, find the ones that have relevant categories, and get yourself listed. This is not a quick task, but it is worth it.
There are many other things you can do to build a large audience and promote your startup, but this will give you a good start. It will take time, as you already know, but persistence pays off.