How can education companies have a local impact on educators across the country when they don’t have any kind of local presence?
Some education businesses can directly impact local sales of their products. For example, supplemental publishers who sell through the school supply retail channel can drive local customers into specified stores through a combination of targeted direct mail, email, mobile advertising, and social networking. There are also education products that are sold through other types of dealers such as audio or tech hardware providers. Customers and prospects who buy through resellers can also be mobilized to drive local sales.
However, what are your options if you sell digital curriculum, learning management systems or any other type of software as a service (SaaS)? The implementation of any of the following tactics will help build your brand locally and nationally.
- Targeted email: This is still the number one tactic for reaching specific customer groups. It can be used to highlight specific content, host contests or drive educators to a local service group in support of product trials; to an event such as a local or regional conference or users meeting; or to social networks to engage other educators.
- Social networking: Using content management systems (CMS), companies can leverage branded content to personalize and deliver to locally fragmented audiences. Companies can use LinkedIn to tap into and target local district administration buyers, for example. Also, Facebook business pages can be used to build national awareness and local community through personalized content and targeted advertising.
- Mobile: It’s essential for companies to have responsive websites now that Google announced earlier this year that mobile search has overtaken desktop search and is now the primary way people access product information. eMarketer forecasts indicate that the mobile ad spend will reach $100 billion next year, which is more than 50% of total digital advertising. Localizing content and delivering via mobile can spark inquiry and drive search and purchase for your products. Forrester recently announced that "We find that the more mobile a customer is, the more demanding she is for customized, context-specific, location-specific marketing experiences." Bottom line, companies need to create optimized experiences on smartphones and tablets.
- Co-op digital advertising: If you do have local affiliates, you can share the cost of local advertising with them. It’s difficult for national brands to guarantee alignment at the local level, so this kind of program has a track record of effectiveness that produces measurable results. However, the BIA/Kelsey Social Media Forecast 2015 notes that local social advertising is expected to grow faster than national social advertising through at least 2019. So this is a strategy to consider.
- Newsjacking: This has long been a public relations tool—hanging product promotion on a news event. It’s a terrific opportunity for companies to inject their brand into the local news. Newsjacking does require some sensitivity, however. You don’t want to use tragic events to boost your brand. While companies need to act quickly when the news is fresh, you want to be discerning about how you use this tactic.
Even without local representation of your product or service, companies have a variety of options to generate localized interest in their brands. Any of the tactics detailed above can be used to customize content for local consumption. Smart marketers will test to determine the combination that works best to achieve their sales and marketing goals.