- The COVID-19 virus caused a nationwide closure of academic institutes which led to concerns about its consequences for students, parents, and educators as they had to adapt to digital learning overnight.
- However, EdTech has been a game-changer in the
academic space. Mahadev Srivatsa, VP – Marketing and Brand Strategy, Practicallylooks back at the past year and a half of the pandemic and shares a few marketing lessons he learnt from his COVID experience.
Today, an EdTech company has to establish and drive itself as a ‘Brand’. It has to be capable of generating awareness and offering credibility in its services and offerings. An e-lesson in branding is to live to tell the tale amid cutthroat competition.This has become essential to drive consideration amongst the TG in a super cluttered market.
Precisely the reason why the marketing teams have had to work harder than ever to carve a niche for their own brands. Some adopted a wait and watch approach while many went digital in the last year..But a few were able to hold their fort with innovative features and a 360 degree integrated approach, which is the need of the current hour. For every brand and marketing enthusiast, Covid has caused a tectonic shift making it more exciting and challenging than ever to find new ways and optimally utilise communication channels to stay ahead of the curve. It also disrupted the traditional season/quarter-led marketing campaigns with Unlock taking centre stage for all activities.
At the end of it all brands have learned and the current stint has only made marketeers tougher and more adaptable. The lessons learnt will only help brands in this space to either revisit or efficiently plan their way forward.
Invest in brand building
Education was never a brand but a reputation and heritage oriented space. From the famous Doon school to IIMs, these institutions have won admiration because of the learning culture they have cultivated. While this stands true for traditional institutions, the internet demands a completely different niche. Branding in the Edtech space becomes increasingly important because the consumer doesn’t have a tangible offline connection with you. From the colour of your logo to your narrative, build a consistent equity that consumers can recognize easily. This early investment and attention to details will set you apart. While building your brand, ensure that your creative articulation is true to your product deliverables. With the adoption barrier for ed-tech gone, consumers now are looking at quality and differentiated offerings and this is where a brand will help garner attention and eventually build trust.
Understand Your Target Audience
A thorough understanding of the end target audience is a must in the education space. To simplify, for a working professional most decisions are taken by them sans any need to consult parents but they are likely to rely on customer feedback or word of mouth before signing up for a program. However, they are the end decision makers and winning their confidence is important for the brand. On the other hand, for brands catering to children and young learners (K-12 audience), consumers and customers are different. The parents are customers and the children are consumers. A constant challenge here will remain to appeal to the students and win the trust of their parents. Often parents see services while kids look at the fun,engaging aspect of the product. And hence as a marketeer one needs to coin communication that appeals to both audiences. To ensure a foolproof campaign make note of your TG and address their specific need.
Go beyond the Integrated Marketing jargon
The most overused term doing rounds in the marketing vertical is ‘Integrated Marketing.’ Largely, it implies a mix of traditional, digital, OOH & digital mediums to create enough buzz for consumers. Edtech is a largely sensitive space and overburdening your customers with thoughtless marketing will do more harm than good. Right at the beginning, plan the needs and objectives of your campaign. Are you launching a new product or introducing a new feature? Are you tackling pressing issues? Or simply creating a brand recall? In any case, go beyond a rote advertisement plan and rather find means to demonstrate the product to the consumer through strategy. Plan in advance to ensure that the campaign is released simultaneously and be meticulous about the choice of mediums. Any out of the box idea that makes the consumer aware and in a way engage with your product or feature directly will always cut the cake especially when you want to drive differentiation. For instance, the recent Scan Anything feature launch by Practically introduced consumers to the option of experiencing the feature right within the print ads in regional and national dailies making them understand its revolutionary prowess.. Result -3X scans came in on the day when print was released demonstrating the power of the idea.
Seize The Moment
The combination of being socially distant and homebound made us realise the importance of days and moments we take for granted otherwise. From Children’s Day to Women’s Day, plan a way to stay connected to your consumers, develop a communication strategy that isn’t pocket heavy but helps you show the consumers that you are aware and you care. Moment marketing if done right gets an organic positive buzz for the brand in the digital space at hardly any cost.
Marketing as a function has to be flexible enough to adapt to any external or internal changes. In the harshest of times, marketing teams have been known to create revolutionary campaigns or come up with thought provoking ideas opening a pathway for others to follow. By the looks of it, Covid may seem like a daunting challenge for companies but in reality it has unlocked more possibilities of staying connected with the end consumer making the best use of online and offline mediums. And one will continue to see these strategies get more refined as we transition into the blended learning world facilitated by ed-tech.