Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Proctor & Gamble Problem of Virtual Schools

Proctor & Gamble creates products for the masses. As stated in their "Purpose & People" -- We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world's consumers, now and for generations to come.

P&G has no desire to innovate, alter the paradigm, challenge the status quo, or transform the market. They simply want more market share -- more consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.

One would argue that it is working for them. However, for their purpose to continue, they will constantly have to spend their way to have more shelf space, invest in advertising, interrupt more people, attempt to grab more attention, offer steeper discounts, and tout the features and benefits of their products with the hope that more people will buy. Perhaps, when it comes to consumer products, this strategy will sustain them for some time.

The problem though is that too many virtual school providers carry this same mentality, and their playing field is education, not consumer products. Let's create mediocre products and services for the masses, interrupt as many people as possible, invest in more advertising, and hope that more of them are still there at the bottom of the sales funnel.

A quick glance at K12.com under "Who We Help" indicates they want to help everyone. Peek under "What is K12" and they tout their desire to "fulfill the promise of an education for every child." The same is true for Connections Academy, and others.

Notable pursuits no doubt. However, not only can it not be accomplished, one could argue they would be more effective if they limited who they want to serve, and serve them exceptionally well.

Instead of being a Proctor & Gamble (which in reality is much like traditional public schools), why not be an Apple? Create a product and service that changes lives, and let marketing amplify that story.

In the world of education we do not need more mediocre products and services. What we need are paradigm-altering learning experiences that challenge the status quo.


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