How to Understand Your Value in the Education Market

There is a fine line between being boastful and being honest about where you and your education company are in the greater ecosystem. For many and especially founders of education companies it can be quite a blurry experience to look out into the distance and truly assess your and your company’s value to the market. The answer to understanding your value in the education market comes from an honest exploration into the messages you and your company communicate to employees, share holders and potential customers and partners. 

If you are like most then you work diligently to research the market, establish a list of competitors and flesh out where openings for potential lie. Too often, though, we become saturated in our own brilliance. If you thought education, as a sector, was immune to this delusional experience I would challenge how much time you have spent working in education. Snip20160516_33

The industry [education] is not unlike any industry we experience on a day-to-day basis. It is fraught with red tape, often misguided investments, polices, practices, etc.

The good news is that if you can, as a leader, take a critical look at your company’s place in the market you have an opportunity to identify potential opportunities and partners that most would just pass by.

Here are the Top 3 Sayings you should avoid using at all costs and if you here others in your organization speak them run for the elevators:

  1. Nobody else is solving this issue!”
  2. “We are two steps ahead of everyone.”
  3. “We are creating the market.” 

Why provide a list of “runaway” statements? I have found that to accurately assess our value, as a company, we first have to examine the language we are using in our internal meetings, marketing collateral and sales efforts. My guess is that if you are using any of these statements, internally speaking, that you are also using them externally and that can greatly hinder your mission. 

Odds are that there are other thought leaders and companies doing something similar, better or with more money and backing from legacy organizations and systems. And, if they aren’t then they probably will. Remember the big companies are big for a reason; these companies have built relationships and user stories in the market for an extended period of time. They have brand awareness that you are craving and customers are often willing to deal with the mistakes of those they know than the mistakes of newbies. Sad, but the honest truth for so many in the business of education. 

This is why understanding your current position, relative to the current market make for more strategic and current outreach plans. 

If I were you, I’d do the following to better understand your value proposition to be communicated inside and outside of your company:

  1. Create direct product comparisons with the known brand/entity
  2. Write a corresponding narrative that could be used for your company blog, talking points for sales folks and thought leadership media events
  3. Internally – create a mind map of your competitors perceived ecosystem and what the plausible explanations are for their market penetration.

Ask yourself how could you present your argument to the masses for direct endorsement and how might you use this same information to understand the weaker points of your solution and the possible channel partners that might make you even stronger in the market. 

If you believe that you will sell, sell, sell, because users are infatuated with your product you better have a long runway to operate with, i.e., funding. The challenge for so many companies is switching tracks from a freemium model that generated interest to one that drove sales numbers up.

Snip20141208_12As I climb aboard the rocket ship, today, for another journey in the fantastically entertaining education ecosystem remember to be honest about who you are, what your deficiencies are, what your compelling selling points are, who you might partner with, how to create your own messaging that describes the solution to a real need and the rock bottom problem you are solving in education.  

When you can answer these questions you will be better prepared to provide the real answer of value to the education market.