It’s time to start applying what we’ve learned.
We’ve been swimming in lousy news and emails telling us how ‘uncertain’ the times are and how it’s ‘never been more important to…’ for months now, but it’s high-time we packed all that away and started looking ahead.
For a moment, the economy, our businesses, and our lives stalled as an unfamiliar situation unfolded around us, and we struggled to get our bearings.
There is no doubt that we’ll be dealing with the unforeseen consequences of this pandemic for months and years to come, and a great deal of uncertainty will remain as the event continues to unfold, but when has the future ever been predictable?
We spend 170 billion pounds on life insurance premiums each year because the future is never certain.
Put the coronavirus behind you.
With some space between us and the outbreak we can take a step back, and with higher perspectives and cooler heads, begin thinking about what we’ve learned and how that knowledge is going to inform our future business models.
Lesson #1: Change how you sell to schools
If the last few months taught us one thing, it’s that our location does not limit us.
During the lockdown, we’ve proven that schools, pupils, and education businesses can work, communicate, educate, learn, and train remotely.
Even entertainers, fitness gurus, and professionals that typically connect with their audiences and clients in person are finding ways to monetise their talents and expertise remotely.
What are education businesses doing differently?
It’s nice to sit down with a client and have a face-to-face discussion over a cup of coffee, but what’s important is the connection; a connection that can just as easily be made online over a video chat.
If you hadn’t been on a Zoom video call before February, you probably have now.
The three most popular adaptations for education businesses have been:
Online demos and meetings – Meeting online is your best option for connecting with schools and teachers. Combining a video call with an online demo or website tour is a very persuasive way to help prospects decide before they buy.
Offer free seamless support – From video calling to online chat, you can offer excellent and convenient, personalised and human interactions to teachers and schools online. The same online tools you use to support customers can be used to engage prospects online and keep your revenue flowing.
Move your workshops online – You may have delivered workshops in person before; take these and give them online. Webinars will bring you closer to your audience than ever, unconfined by the limits of geography, beaming you directly into the classroom or the home office. Alternatively, record your sessions, upload them as videos, and engage with customers via comments and chats.
By adapting your selling methods now, you’ll have a powerful suite of tools for the future, and you’ll be closer than ever to teachers and schools.
Lesson #2: Adapt your education products and services
Think about your products and services differently.
For example, if you provide well-being solutions for teachers, schools, and pupils, you could adapt your resources and create new video content to support mental health during the lockdown.
You might be thinking, ‘that’s all well and good, but I offer a tangible service or product. How can I adapt my business?’
Adapting doesn’t have to be sales-focused.
We’ve discovered that adapting your business might not mean selling more in the short-term, especially for education businesses. It may mean setting your business up for future success.
For instance, let’s say you sell playground equipment to schools.
How in the world could a playground business adapt to a scenario where no one is allowed outside?
It might be time to consider that you’re in the broader business of play.
Besides toilet paper, sales of outdoor games, toys, and garden wares have skyrocketed as this pandemic has teachers and parents alike scratching their heads at how to keep children busy while school trips, parks, and playgrounds are off-limits.
As a purveyor of fun, you can help educators and parents by providing resources for activities and games they can play during lockdown to help keep restless children happy and healthy. You could even create videos or PDFs teachers can easily share online with parents.
Creating and providing free resources like these is a surefire way to win the favour of teachers and families alike.
Schools and teachers will remember companies that bent their business model to support them when things got tough. When the sun is shining, and class is back in session, those will be the first companies schools approach.
Lesson #3: Launch into a new territory
You might be thinking, "whoa, you sprung that one on me!".
Hear me out.
If you’ve taken on board lessons number one and two, you’re halfway there.
You’ve adapted your product and service to be delivered online, made a couple of savvy marketing decisions, and you prepared to engage, meet, and sell online.
Launching into a new country can seem daunting, but with a little preparation, you can get it right and then you’ll be left wondering why you didn’t expand sooner.
Consider selling to the US market.
They follow a similar curriculum, and there are millions of educators, over 100,000 schools, and no language barriers.
Can you offer something to US schools?
The market is enormous, and there is room for everyone.
The school system structure is similar to that of the UK with schools unified into districts as opposed to LEAs, with decision-makers easily accessible via email.
If you’ve been creating resources, products, and services for the UK, there’s a good chance they could work for the US too.
Here’s your way in.
If you’d like to diversify your business with a step into the US, contact us for a free strategy call.
We’ll talk you through how it is possible to achieve and discuss what your future could look like marketing to an education sector worth $1.4 trillion.
Hint: it looks bright.