Monday, December 30, 2013

Reaching home schoolers in 2014

Assuming the research is correct, by December 31, 2014 there will be 161,000 to 345,000 new students added to the home school population. Each one will spend $600-900 on educational needs making this new population alone a multi-million dollar opportunity.

Reaching them in 2014 will become increasingly difficult. The competition is increasing, the landscape is changing, and the "noise" is becoming deafening.

Still, they will be searching for solutions, and they may be willing to hear what you have to say.

Want to reach them? Tactically there are a myriad of possibilities to utilize effectively in your marketing strategy so I will not address those here. However, let me suggest three things to consider that have more to do with your philosophy than tactics:

1) Know your audience.

There are approximately 2.3+ million home schoolers in America right now. Will these new additions be similar to the existing population? Or will they be drastically different? Who will be the primary educator at home? Why will they choose to home school? What is their motivation?

Existing or new you must know who it is you are talking to, and more importantly, who might listen to you.

2) Be bold.

If your strategy depends primarily on price then you really do not have a strategy. If you want to reach them with a product that is similar to others already on the market, price will matter but do not make it your focal point. Rather, be bold in your strategy.

Whether it is "edgecrafting" as Seth Godin calls it, or jumping off the precipice, find an extreme and go there. Staying in the center with the others will only lead to more "noise" keeping you from standing out.

Ask yourself, "Is it safer to go to the edge or get lost in the crowd?" The decision is yours.

3) Be real.

Know who you are, accept who you are, and be who you are. Then find those customers of yours who will participate in the sharing of your story. Give them an exciting story to share and provide them with the tools to share it.

Be real, be authentic, even vulnerable.

Bonus Point

Take care of your existing customers. So many times companies offer great incentives to attract new customers and ignore those who are most loyal to them. Reverse this trend and watch your customers become your greatest asset in reaching new ones.

Figment Consulting

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Customers are like teeth.

You only need to take care of the ones you want to keep.

Be careful though because the ones you lose will create holes in your smile and others will notice.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The virtual school shelf space

Twelve years ago there was no path to follow, no road already taken. At K12, Inc. when I started there back in 2001, we were trailblazing because that was the only way to do what we were attempting -- virtual public schools.

Fast forward to today and now the virtual school shelf space is crowded and similar. More disconcerting is they are beginning to look more like their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Where has the innovation gone? Why build another virtual school and place it on the same shelf with the others?

Why not build something unique and edgy? If you want to get lost in the crowd then build for the shelf space. If you want to offer a breakthrough product then be bold, even outrageous.

Start with the customer (the student, the parents) at the true center and see where it may lead you. Go to the edge, the precipice, then . . . jump.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The problem with Khan Academy

There is none really. Sure it has flaws and there is always room for improvement but overall there is no problem with it.

It is up to the virtual schools, the online providers, and even the regular brick and mortar schools (and charter schools) to learn how to exist with Khan Academy. And, in doing so, their offerings can become better - both academically and experiential.

There will even be some who incorporate Khan into the mix by embracing what it has to offer rather than try to simply overcome it. This is called cooperation.

Author and blogger Seth Godin says it much better than I could, "The problem with competition is that it takes away the requirement to set your own path, to invent your own method, to find a new way."

The real problem therefore is not with Khan Academy, rather it is that too many see it as competition instead of opportunity. Change your perception and a world of potential is opened up to you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A light shining in the darkness

One small light shining in the darkness can be the brightest object in the room, and it draws all of the attention.

If you want to be different from your competitors then find the darkness and let your light shine. If you do not then you will simply blend in, and go unnoticed.

It can be hard to see in the dark. That's why we need your light.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The value of sharing

In today's world sharing is one of the easiest things consumers can do. Not only can they share with their closest friends, but they can also tell the whole world about their experiences with a product they have purchased.

Therefore it begs the question - what are your customers sharing about you? The value of sharing is really found within the content of what your customers are saying. Remember, they are already telling others. The real question is what are they saying?

This leads to another question - how easy is it for them to share with others their experience using your product(s)? In other words, are you making it effortless for them to share their experience? Why not?

Put the value of sharing to work for you.

"When somebody shares, everybody wins." ~ Jim Rohn

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why home schoolers are not listening to you (part 2)

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog sharing with you why home schoolers are not listening to you. It generated some good questions from readers with many of them having a common thread. So, I thought I would do a little "Q and A" with one of the questions that was, by far, most popular in the emails coming to me.

Question: What is the most effective way to build trust with home schoolers?

Answer: Be trustworthy.

You must understand the world view of the niche within the home school market that aligns with yours, and be all you can be to them. Doing so will allow you to be authentic, which leads to trust. It takes time though so don't expect it overnight.

Remember, your product, your service will not appeal to all home schoolers. In fact, it probably will not appeal to the majority of them. Rather than spend your time trying to convince them otherwise, invest your time finding those home schoolers who want to hear what you have to say. They are the ones willing to give you a chance to earn their trust.