25 February 2019
The need to increase collaboration across the education sector is undisputed. Not only is it a gateway to driving innovation in schools, but it’s also essential to empowering students to fulfill their potential and ensuring they are prepared for the modern workplace in 2020.
Walking the floor at this year’s Bett Show left no doubt in my mind that one of the biggest barriers to strengthening partnerships between education institutions and suppliers was market accessibility.
Break down barriers
Suppliers were quick to express the difficulties they face trying to break into new areas, citing changing buying structures as one of the biggest barriers to entry.
The rise of multi-academy trusts (MATs) is equally leading to more institutions purchasing solutions at an individual level, rather than through their local education authority. At the same time, institutions are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate a complex landscape of products and services with ever-tightening budgets and demanding digital-native students.
A roadmap for success
Whilst heavy investment remains challenging, it needs to be carefully considered as part of an institution’s digital transformation strategy. Not only should it accelerate classroom learning, but it also needs to support existing infrastructure, and accommodate new teaching initiatives and a developing bring-your-own-device culture.
The power of community
For partnerships to foster and flourish greater focus needs to be placed on the value of community. Schools, colleges, and universities are, by their very nature, microcosms. So, if you are a supplier offering a service to the education community, you need to make sure that is your starting point.
Bett may be a great spearhead for conversation, but success stems from establishing a deeper connection with your audience, in their environment. Sharing insights and resources with peers helps identify new techniques and provides a platform to discuss shared experiences. Keeping up to date with current industry initiatives and building a network of like-minded individuals will help you identify potential contacts and bolster your profile to capture the attention of prospects.
Defining your proposition
This may seem obvious, but if your offering is not compelling or clearly defined, your target audiences won’t feel compelled to interact with you. With budgets tightening, particularly amongst non-fee establishments, communicating the potential value you offer, with a steady focus on learning outcomes, is essential.
Think about whether it is one key product that defines your offering or whether it’s the quality of service you can provide that sets you apart. If you can offer an end-to-end service and remove deployment and network compatibility concerns, you are likely to be more successful. Hone in on one clear message and ensure your business vision is aligned with the needs of your audience.
The value of insight
Microsoft’s announcement earlier this month that it had acquired the data integration platform DataSense further accelerates the impetus being put on harnessing analytics to help improve students’ outcomes. But just how compelling is your offering?
Microsoft is placing a great deal of attention on supporting educational institutions’ migration to the cloud and using insight to adapt its approach. But do you really know what motivates the individuals you are trying to influence? You will understandably have an agenda that you are keen to push, but just because you feel you have a compelling story doesn’t mean it is going to resonate.
Take the time to evaluate the data you hold, analyze where you have been successful, and look to replicate this in other areas of your new business activity. Remember to adapt your messages to your different audience and where possible develop a profile of your ideal customer and tailor your approach accordingly.
The secret to delivering demand ultimately comes down to four factors: a defined and compelling story; a rich and deep understanding of how it aligns with the needs of the intended audience; a clear content strategy to effectively communicate it; and, finally, a go-to-market activity program rooted in insight, which is regularly evaluated and adapted to ensure success.
To find out how Metia can help you with your demand journey, please get in touch.