Today marks under 40 days until the education sector is thrown deep into the murky waters of the government's yearly curveball, where staff, students, and parents will attempt to stay afloat for 1-7 weeks amongst the daily waves of panic, stress, and intense workloads.
Of course, I'm talking about school exams. This year's SATs, GCSEs, and A-levels begin on Monday 13th May. Schools are well underway with their preparations, but right about now they'll be upping the ante and launching into battle mode.
But where does that leave you with your selling-to-schools strategy?
Do you ramp it up to armour teachers with your workload-cutting, wellbeing-improving product, or provide the perfect weapon in the form of your digital teaching and revision resources - or will your marketing efforts go unappreciated by worn out teachers?
On the other hand, if you back away as fast as you can to leave the fight unscathed, will you miss out on one of the most crucial buying periods when teachers are looking everywhere for help?
Having seen sellers to schools go through the same process since 2007, we've created the perfect tried-and-tested timeline for your pre-exam campaign - and here it is:
40 Days Remaining: Start the free trials
Right now, teachers might not necessarily have the time to be spending researching new products, tools, and resources, and convincing the SMT to fund it. That's where your no-obligation free trial comes in. If it's free, they can easily and happily begin the trial without knowing anything more than what your email and landing page told them, diving straight in to see if it suits their pupils.
By promoting your free trial slightly earlier than the usual 30-day duration, you'll still be reaching teachers when they're consciously in the market for your exam-busting services, but before their focus and timetables will be too engaged elsewhere for you to successfully discuss setting them up with the full product. They'll also be less inclined to waste time finding a whole new resource or product just ten days before their students' first exam, so if yours has worked tremendously well in their classrooms and proven to be a great support, you could be finding yourself with an instant sale!
37 Days Remaining: Offer some help
As the steady stream of red-hot leads come flowing in following your free trial email, you'll now want to start sending out your follow-up emails or personalised Pigeon Hole letters.
Reach out to those who've downloaded the trial to say thanks, and offer to arrange a quick, personal chat to find out what their main reason for using the trial is, and talk them through some features that can help them do just that. Reinforce you'll only take up 5-10 minutes of their time as you know they're incredibly busy with their preparations, and provide a tangible stat with, comparably, how much time certain features will help them save in the long run.
You could also send a separate follow-up to those who perhaps visited your website off the back of your email, but didn't go on to complete the trial. The message will essentially be the same - how you're able to help them save time and reduce their workload during the most stressful period of the school year, and how you're happy to arrange a five-minute chat to get them set up and answer any questions.
30 Days Remaining: Bring out the last-chance trial
You may see a greater rate of success when you let teachers know about your trial with more time to spare, but there's really no bad time to give someone something for free. Now's the time to be telling teachers this is their last chance for them to begin the trial (and access its incredible benefits) before exams begin. Emails that invoke a sense of urgency play on the teachers' fear of missing out. Tell them they need to start the trial this week if they'd like to save X hours a week on admin, or increase exam grades by X% in X weeks during this exam season, and wait for the leads to come flooding in.
21-7 Days Remaining: The Free Downloads
With just a few short weeks to go, it's unlikely that teachers will want to set themselves or their pupils up with brand new pieces of software to avoid interrupting their now finely-tuned revision strategies. That said, lesson plans, revision materials, videos, and other pre-made resources that require zero teacher input will be very much welcomed.
Keeping this email tied closely around the free resources is a great way to show teachers that you're a personable, trustworthy company who genuinely wants to help them and their students. That said, there's no harm in having the secondary focus of your email based around your product or its benefits - for instance, how they can access hundreds more resources like the freebie by subscribing to your service, or perhaps a link to your latest blog giving tips to reduce teacher workload in the run up to exams.
7-0 Days Remaining: The Social Content
At this stage, tension levels are mounting as everyone (from teachers to pupils) within the schools are starting to feel the pressure. Wellbeing will be a huge concern, and workloads will have hit their peak, so it's not a bad idea to put the hard sales tactics to rest for a week or so. But that doesn't mean you can't still be marketing your brand in other ways.
If you've read my social media blog, you'll know that an active, carefully-planned social media presence is an essential part of your selling-to-schools strategy. Put together a couple of branded "good luck" quotes, or your own funny exam-related posts to keep spirits high whilst remaining in their minds and letting teachers know you're thinking of them.
Continue to post your other social media content as usual to reach teachers organically and continue to get your name on their screens without a direct email.
What you do during the exams is dependent on your audience.
SATs only last a week or two, so you can resume usual operations pretty much straight away. On the other hand, A-levels last around 8 weeks, so it might be a good idea to lay low for a week or so before you start sending out a couple of well-thought-out emails - still tied into how you can help them through the rest of the exam period, of course, with a genuine concern as to how they're getting on.
The curtains closing on exam season for yet another year is the perfect opportunity for you to pull out some celebratory discounts, offers, freebies, or a brand-new Teacher Perk to congratulate teachers and students for their hard work. And, of course, the perfect time to catch up with those teachers who did use your product or service throughout to find out what benefits it brought them, and those teachers who didn't to see if they'd like to try it out ready for next year.
There's still time for our team to help you navigate your way through one of the most high-pressure times of the school year (and I assure you, you'll come out unscathed). Just contact us on info@sprint-education or 01684 297374.
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