With more and more startups entering the education market it is harder for school suppliers to stand out.
MJ Linane, a USA high school teacher, is frustrated with trying to keep track of all the new products in the market. Out of this frustration, she penned three tips for school suppliers that we believe are invaluable. As an education startup, we will be using these tips.
The original article can be found on Edsurge, but we pasted MJ’s three tips below:
Your Name Doesn’t Matter, But the Problem You Solve Does
Here is a secret about conferences: if your product’s name sounds like a lovechild between a song in Mary Poppins and an augmented reality device, I am probably not going to approach your table. What do you expect? Do you imagine that I’ll be curious about your company if you’ve got a really odd name that I can’t pronounce? Is that really how you expect interactions to start?
At conferences, I am already focused on seeing the one or two companies that currently play a large role in my teaching. Thus, the problem. Conference vendor tables are usually approached by two groups: current users, or those brought there by recommendation. In my experience, few educators are casually interested in products they’ve never heard of.
So, if you are a brand new startup, you have a very low likelihood of being noticed. How can you get around this?
Reverse the approach of most big names. Everyone knows Google, and no one knows you. But everyone has needs to be met. Instead of posting your company name in huge letters, make your value proposition clear. Post the solution you offer. It really doesn’t matter what your name is—I care about what problem you can solve.
Don’t Stick To Your Booth At Conferences
It seems that there is this barrier at conferences whereby companies feel they can’t attend sessions. It reminds me of a middle school dance where everyone stands on the sidelines. Manning your booth is fine. You already paid for it, right? But the problem is if that is the only thing you do. I am less likely to pay attention to your booth as I rush to my next session.
So, how can you approach educators at conferences? Attend sessions! Don’t take the booth as your sole opportunity to sell your wares. Instead, honestly, try to find out what educators are concerned with. Get into the rooms where sessions are happening and talk with the people next to you. So much in education happens because of word-of-mouth.
Discussions that happen during sessions are better than any consumer survey. They are a true glimpse into the realities and concerns of everyday educators. In addition, you can introduce yourself and your company, exchange cards, and then move onto the next session. I am much more likely to check out a website after a nice conversation in a session than I am if you casually hand me a pen from your booth as I walk by.
Content Market First
I know that the goal of your education startup is to ship your product as soon as possible. You want to get your minimum viable product (MVP) to market, right? Get your first mover advantage?
That is fine and all, but what happens when it goes to market and no one is interested? In those cases, you have to scramble to gain traction.
Why not do gain traction before you ship? For instance, if you are building your tool to solve student engagement, start up a blog. Once you have your blog, start pushing out helpful content. This is going to begin the process of relationship building with educators.
If you are shipping in 6 months, spend those 6 months building your audience. If you are a solopreneur, find a blog writer atUpWork, or recruit a teacher writer via Twitter. With this, you will build a better product and have an audience ready when you ship. I know that I personally am more likely to use a product from a brand that I already trust—one that is already helping me.
-You can read the full article here.