You've spent years building an awesome edtech product, have a user base, and are ready to invest in marketing to get the word out and increase revenue. Where do you begin? For any edtech company, especially when the focus has been on building a stellar product, the place to start effectively marketing is with product marketing. Product marketing entails smartly connecting your product with customers. It involves comprehensive research, planning, and collaboration. Let's walk through the steps to incorporate product marketing into your business in this guide to edtech product marketing!
The Role of Effective Edtech Product Marketing
Effective product marketing will build a user base and drive adoption and engagement in your edtech product. Developers, product teams, and company leadership will dedicate a lot of time and resources creating a product and building its feature. But, someone will need to explain and entice potential buyers—whether it's a parent, teacher, or school administrator—to buy and use the product. This can be a challenge, especially when the product solves a problem in a brand-new way or uses cutting-edge technology. Product marketing translates the benefits of an edtech product into something that customers can't resist.
Product marketers are skilled researchers and collaborators. They work with product teams to understand the product and then research the market landscape, potential target audiences, and competitive products, providing feedback to the product team to inform development. They also partner with the sales team to arm them with marketing materials that help compellingly communicate the product's benefits. And they collaborate with the entire marketing team in developing integrated marketing plans to support product launches and updates. Here are some of the key responsibilities in edtech product marketing roles, which we'll explain in more detail:
Conduct Market Research
Product marketers are knowledgable about what's happening external to the company. They need to rely on more than what the product team tells them about the product benefits. They research the market landscape to understand edtech trends and how their product fits. One resource they might reference is Holon IQ, which has informative research about macro trends in the edtech industry. They've identified five factors shaping education looking toward 2030:
Globalization and growth
Global population changes
Future of work and skills
Advancements in technology
Understanding where the edtech market is going helps the company see how the product will fit in over the long term.
Product marketers also become experts in the competitive set. They research the features of their competitors' edtech products, how they talk about the product and features, what audiences they target, and how they are marketing. Product marketing helps you identify how potential customers compare you to other products when looking for a solution like yours.
Finally, product marketers research their potential customers and end users. Through interviews, focus groups, or online research, they evaluate pain points and even what words and phrases they use to explain things.
By researching the market, competitors, customers, and end users, product marketing uncovers opportunities to differentiate and get the edtech product to stand out.
Outline Buyer and User Profiles
One of the most important jobs of a product marketer is to deeply understand customers: who they are, what their pain points are, what barriers they have to buying or engaging with a product, and their role in the buying process.
Product marketers need to research buyers by interviewing them, joining sales and customer success calls, and listening to online communities they are in. That information is then compiled into buyer profile snapshots that are shared with:
Product teams to help explain what features would help the most.
Sales teams to help prepare them for conversations and prospecting outreach.
Marketing teams executing the work to ensure all communications are speaking to the primary personas.
Unique to edtech, user profiles should also be made for the product's end users if they are not part of the buying process. For example, teachers and students usually use the edtech product but are not part of the buying process. These profiles will need to focus on their pain points and motivations for using a solution like yours to inform adoption and engagement with your product.
Define a Value Proposition and Messaging
You can have the best edtech product in the world, but you need to know how to explain what it does so you can sell it more easily. The research done through product marketing comes into play here to help you identify what should be said in marketing and sales materials to resonate the most with potential buyers and end users.
In this phase, product marketers will prepare documents outlining the value proposition and supporting messaging points for explaining your edtech product to the various buyer and user profiles. These messaging points need to lead with how your edtech product will help the customer and bring value to them vs. emphasizing every product feature.
Develop a Go-to-Market Plan
When you have a solid understanding of who you are selling to and the end users, it's time to develop go-to-market plans for marketing your edtech product for new product launches and product updates to keep people informed and engaged.
The strategic approach to your plan will depend on your business strategy, competitors, and target audience. For example, you may decide you want to target teachers first to build demand and awareness before approaching buyers at the administrative level. In this case, your go-to-market plan would focus on offering free trials or a freemium version of your product to get teachers on board easily.
Provide Ongoing Feedback
Product marketing doesn't end when the product launches. There are always ways to improve upon products and increase engagement, so there should be a process for collecting and reviewing ongoing feedback to gather customer insights about product usage, satisfaction, and areas of improvement.
Competitors will make changes and improve and launch new products, so you should also keep track of their activities. You can do this by regularly checking their websites, signing up for their newsletters (using a non-work email address), or setting up Google Alerts.
Does Your Edtech Company Need Product Marketing?
Many successful edtech companies utilize product marketing. Some of the bigger companies have people specifically in product marketing roles. Others have marketers with responsibilities for many tasks, including product marketing.
As an example, Khan Academy has dedicated product marketers. According to a previous job description, their product marketing team is segmented by end user. They were looking for a product marketing manager focused on getting teachers to use Khan Academy in their classrooms regularly. Some of the job responsibilities include:
Leading the team to develop deep customer insights and market understanding to uncover teacher attitudes and behaviors
Develop customer-backed positioning and messaging delivered across the end-to-end experience
Develop multi-channel awareness, acquisition, and retention campaigns across search, display, social, content, partners, PR, and email
Edtech companies at any stage or size can benefit from the research and planning product marketing brings. If you have a small marketing team, product marketing can be incorporated into existing marketing roles, or you can bring in an experienced Fractional CMO to add the capability to your existing team. Edtech product marketing will help your product stand out and efficiently acquire and retain customers and users.