Often our sales talk track and marketing headlines tout benefits that prick up ears during the curriculum or technology planning phase of the year but become white noise once things are well under way.  If you intend to generate leads and appointments once Back to School Season is officially over, you better have a message that mirrors what educators focus on next, which is how to fix everything they didn’t expect to be broken that early into the year.  Everything we produce for schools is an opportunity to improve student outcomes.   Even if you don’t directly fall into the intervention category, your B2E product can generate greater interest post-Back To School, when you make some simple intervention-friendly tweaks to your pitch.

Here in Michigan I attended my son’s Parent Teacher Conferences this past week.  Not that I’m counting, but as a mother of four, I’ve been to a fair few these past twen-ahem years.  And now with “baby” Brendan nearing the end of his high school career, even though I never sat on the educator’s side of the table, I have a decent sized data set to ponder how this mid-term rite inspires one to alternately glow with pride, despair with worry, plan a course-correction, and seek either more advanced or remediating supplements to help the child in question.  And that’s just MY side of the table (which was come to think of it, often an absurdly short table with miniature chairs).  Imagine what happens behind the scenes for our customers at that point in the school year. 

No longer are they dreaming up big sweeping programs and curricula that they will have weeks to plan and implement with their staff.  They are ingesting interim assessment and progress report like a scrolling stock ticker announcing a market crash in real time.  They have to move quickly to stop the bleeding anywhere they see it.  They have to trust their staff to ad lib changes that will help individual students.  They are more susceptible to “what works” case studies because they need profound results. 

When you think about what your prospect is doing at that mid-term/Parent-Teacher Conference time frame, tell me which sentence would garner more attention? 

“The most comprehensive online courseware library,” or

“Failing students soar again with online courseware options.” 

Same product.  Different hook.  Just as retailers play jingling bells throughout their December commercials, you need to conjure up intervention imagery in your mid-term prospecting.

Here’s help to tweak your prose for mid-term:

  • Be Personal. Narrow the focus of your message to individual or small groups of students.  Educators, particularly building admins are puzzling over the bottom quartile, small subgroups, and students flagged for intervention. 
    • Describe a student case study or “day in the life”
    • Discuss how you support a re-teaching moment
    • Pull out a specific and always difficult skill from your content and address how your approach is the best to keep students from falling behind/further behind
    • Zoom in on how your product aids parents trying to assist their child
    • Feature the role your product plays in surfacing the right interventions or delivering intervention ideas to a teacher
  • Be Flexible and Modular. Even if you typically highlight your broad impact and unique pedagogy, saying so mid-year puts you in the “save it for later” pile.  There’s probably a way your product can be customized or broken apart so teachers can change gears or go off-road to attack a weak spot.  While those features are usually sub-headlines for you, maybe they should become your first message forward right now.
    • Teacher control/Empower teachers
    • Quickly search by topic/realign for changing needs
    • Modify difficulty
    • Differentiate content for groups
    • Increase communication with specific families/intervention teams
  • Be Fast-acting. There is no PD block just around the corner.  We don’t have much time to save this student from failing.   The lingo:
    • Easy to implement…
    • Teacher- and student-friendly…
    • In a short amount of time…
    • In a few weeks you can expect…
    • After one month [cite customer] saw…
    • Immediate results…

You must tire of me writing, “put yourself in your customers’ shoes,” but it’s actually a difficult sales principle to execute and bears reflection from time to time.  We do get caught up in our master marketing message and forget that it’s not about our vision from an ivory tower but what is happening on the front lines  that moves B2E customers to engage.  Sync your head to the education cycle to keep your message relevant year round.

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