k12 education

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Evidence of change.

Reading an article yesterday on Haider al-Abadi, the new prime minister of Iraq, greatly informed my brand planning thinking. In two ways. What’s the Idea? readers know how I feel about brand “claim and proof.” Well, evidence is another word for proof. When Mr. Abadi wants Iraqis to know there is a new sheriff in town, and that there will be a more pluralistic nation state in Iraq he did a few things differently. While predecessor al-Maliki went before Parliament 2 times in 8 years, Mr. Abadi has been 3 time in his first couple of months. When there were disputes between tribes threatening to hold up military action against ISIS, Mr. Abadi rolled up his sleeves and mediated traditional blood money solutions.

If his claim is “change” the evidence must be tangible.

Learning for brand planners is similar. But before we get to claim and evidence we need to deeply understand the category. A thorough understanding of the bigger category picture, is important before we focus on our specific brand work. For instance, I understand what it takes to improve K12 education before I recommend an interactive white board solution. I understand what it takes to fix the U.S. healthcare system, before I recommend a physician group. I know the impact of obesity on the masses and families before I recommend a weight loss modality. And so on.

When a brand planner gets the big picture, s/he can then safely focus on the smaller picture. And when serving up that smaller picture claim, be sure to provide lots of memorable evidence. All claim and no proof is wasted an all but the production company. Peace.


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Data Driven

More and more in my brand planning practice I hear myself talking about data as a brand asset. Or at least a brand opportunity. In K12 education, data-driven assessment is a big driver of improved teaching and learning. In healthcare, measuring outcomes and return-to-function and tying those measures to treatment protocols is a big driver of the improvement goals of the Affordable Care Act.  And in marketing itself, there are few discussions about expenditures and tactics that don’t include reference to ROI data.

Many recommendations I make to companies these days include hiring a data nerd –even if only a part-timer. Outbound, data is proof. (Readers know my brand planning mantra of “claim and proof.”) But inbound data is all about operations. Performance. Ideation. And creativity.

We are in a data driven world, we marketers. Data is no longer the provenance of analysts; it is for, and about, everybody. You needn’t make data your friend but you should certainly become acquainted with it, embrace it and use a healthy dose in your day job. Peace.


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I recently did some work for a very cool company in the educational development space called Teq and was lucky enough to walk the halls of many K12 schools in NY State. Thinking about ways to improve the education process in today’s fast twitch, web-enabled world was head spinning.

old teacher

One thing I noticed about some long-tenured teachers was that they were focused on retirement. Many would start off conversations with “Only 2 and a half more years and I’m gone.” Gone being the immediate prize.  This got me wondering how many teachers actually rued the fact they were we close to retirement age. How many felt they were running out of time to perfect their craft and create a legacy? The insight came about when a teacher using interactive white board technology for the first time, said “I wish I wasn’t retiring so soon.”

I’d very much like to do some qualitative research with K12 teachers who are in their last 3 years before retirement (Here’s one for you Randi Weingarten), comparing teachers who are in countdown mode with teachers who feel they don’t have enough time to complete their mission.  Studying the root of these two mindsets would help administrators tweak the system.

Teachers are as much the lifeblood of education as are students. Teachers who spend more time thinking about their legacy and impact they’ve had should be role models. Teachers biding time, not so much. We can help the latter by understanding and modeling the former.

Legacy is an interesting planning discussion.  As you plan your brands and ask your questions, keep that on in mind. Peace.

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(As if all my posts aren’t rambles. Hee hee.) 

The election is over.  The polemic and political bullshit should be put to rest for a while and the economy is moving in the right direction.   The craft economy has been growing the last couple of years during these very harsh financial times, affected a cultural change. What is the craft economy? It’s a mindset where people take pride cooking for their family rather than paying others to do so. It’s fixing gutters rather than hiring contractors. Knitting sweaters just to see what hand-made looks like. Putting less by the curb and refurbishing the old stuff. Some of this is influenced by the sustainability movement. As the country gets older demographically, roots become more important. We all get waste is bad.

As for the business economy, companies have cut to the bone; felt the bone, tendons and muscle. Sure companies have made some retrenchment mistakes, e.g., replace marketing blocking and tackling with low cost social marketing, free interns and search engine advertising.  But that’s settling down. The cottage industries that have grown up around social and digital are shaking out and will continue to be important (for other reasons) yet will shrink and make corporate marketing performance stronger.

With 35+% of the country impacted by Sandy (Can we please rename this piece-of-shit storm something other than “Superstorm Sandy?”  What are we 4th graders?), the masses have learned how blessed we really are for all the creature comforts we have—for what it means to be a neighbor.  When George, the cranky old German guy next door, turns into a huffing and puffing 84 year old in need, we are seeing life more selflessly.

Lastly, the country’s new-found focus on education, especially that of the K12 variety an exciting new technology overlay, will inch us away from poverty and toward a flatter country. These four things are a good perfect storm.

These are the words of the typist.  Now go in PEACE!    

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According to the Radicati Group market research firm, in 2010, 107 trillion e-mails were sent. Today there are 3.1 billion active email accounts and corporate employees send and receive 105 million e-mails a day. When we don’t have anything to do, rather than smelling roses, we check our cellies. They have become indispensable.  Or have they?

One of the goals I have for my company is to make its website an indispensable source of content for the K12 education community. Indispensable is a very high goal.  The thought is, if teachers and school administrators could visit only one website each day to get some good .edu nuggets, whose would it be? Not a nice place to visit. Or a valuable and meaningful website.  An indispensable site. That’s a strategy. 

Many view their sites as places to share product and service information.  Good idea. Others see them as a way to cut down customer inquiry. Others yet view their sites as places to sell.  Or places to get prospects ready to buy.  All good goals.  For me “indispensable” is where it’s at.  It is a constant strategic motivator.  Try it. Peace.

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