We recently joined the PR with Panache! family to help expand the marketing division. As two former educators turned marketers, we’re excited to help edtech companies shine so that schools can discover new and effective ways to support their students, teachers, families, and administrators.
We’ve worked together at Odysseyware and now at PRP, and no matter where our paths have taken us, we share a true passion for education, from student learning to educator support and, ultimately, school success. We recently sat down to reminisce and ask ourselves some questions about how we made the move from the classroom to the edtech industry. We thought we’d share the highlights of our conversation—and how thrilled we are to be part of an organization that’s as passionate about edtech as we are!
Let’s start from the beginning. What made you become a teacher?
Tanya: It deeply aligns to who I am as a person and what drives me in my daily life and career: I absolutely believe in the power of knowledge and education that propels us forward. And simply put, students are our future! I’ve always wanted to be part of that.
Tyler: I grew up with dyslexia and did not enjoy school very much. I wanted to help all students find success in school and make sure learning was fun. Luckily, I had a few amazing teachers who believed in me and inspired me to go into education.
How did you go from the classroom to edtech?
Tanya: In a nutshell, I moved in the middle of a school year and had a hard time finding a job. So I started working as a marketing consultant, and from there transitioned to sales and marketing working for a couple of edtech companies.
Tyler: When my school received an Apple® hardware and software package, I saw immediately how excited my students were to come to school and learn. Additionally, all of my student behavior issues went away. I decided that I wanted to help teachers everywhere understand how integrating technology into their classroom instruction could help them meet the needs of all their students more effectively and on a personal level. So, I set out to work for Apple and ended up working there for 9 years.
How have you been successful in connecting sales to marketing?
Tanya: My edtech career started off in curriculum sales. As part of my job, I worked with a wide range of educators to help them understand the curriculum and how to use it with fidelity through training. This led to me moving into new job roles where I could integrate and implement best practices around aligning sales and marketing to tell the story and purpose of various products, and train sales reps on how to successfully connect with the right audience and deliver that message.
Tyler: When I worked for Apple, I met an amazing mind who I worked with in sales. We collaborated on bundles and concepts, and then we met in person. I ended up marrying him and learned all about sales and how closely aligned to marketing it needs to be for sales to be effective. Now, I always keep sales in mind when creating marketing materials for every organization I work with.
Do you see PD as an important part of edtech?
Tanya: Absolutely! In fact, it’s pretty much a non-negotiable to me. As part of my role at Pearson, I often trained teachers on how to use a product or curriculum with fidelity—which is what ultimately drives the success of the product, as well as an educator's continued use of the product. In fact, a lack of training is one of the top reasons why teachers may not use technology. I also trained colleagues when I was a teacher, and know first-hand how professional development translates to classroom success.
Tyler: One of the roles I had at Apple was as the product manager for our Professional Development Division. I managed the curriculum we provided for our PD workshops on CD-ROM. During our workshops, I got to see first-hand how important PD was for effective implementation. I realized how critical it was for teachers to learn how to integrate technology effectively into their curriculum rather than simply being trained on the tool.
Why do you feel a curriculum should integrate technology?
Tanya: Technology is everywhere! No matter what age you are or what field you’re in, you’re affected by technology. The STEM teacher in me cringes at the idea of not giving students the technology exposure and interaction opportunities they so desperately need for their future. And simply put, technology improves teaching and learning—especially when data is readily available.
Tyler: I’m a big believer that schools shouldn’t use technology all day long. Hands-on learning is also very important, so I believe technology should be utilized when it can offer things other methods can’t. For example, I think students can become better writers on the computer than they can on paper. Students can easily move sentences around, draft copy and then move it into a section of the document, delete, find better words to use with the thesaurus, and edit their information in a much more efficient and effective way. When I got a computer, I became a much better writer and enjoyed writing, whereas I never had with paper and pen.
What made you focus your efforts in marketing?
Tanya: When I see a product on the market that makes me think, “Gosh, do I wish I had that while I was in school!” or, “Wow, I wish I had that when I was teaching!” It’s those moments that really ignite my love of the industry and all the wonderful products and solutions out there that can make a positive difference on a student or educator. It makes me excited to tell a product’s story!
Tyler: When I was at Apple, I really just wanted to work in their education division. After a successful launch of a project, they asked me to become a marketing manager. I never really thought of my role as a marketer, but I know now that is really what am. I continually think about how a product can help make the educator’s job easier and improve the experience for students. I started working with schools/students at 15, so I know first-hand what they encounter and the craziness of it all. I am driven by creating awareness of solutions that can make their life better.
What advice would you give to a company looking to market to schools?
In answering this question, we both came to the same conclusion: always keep the educator and student in mind. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider how your product or service positively impacts them. At the end of the day, if you can’t answer that, then you might want to adjust your product. And don’t forget to speak to them and “guide them with support.” Teachers are more than just influencers; they’re impacting the future generation and have a lot of skin in the game in the edtech industry.
If you’re looking for assistance in marketing to schools, please reach out to us. We look forward to speaking with you to learn more about your solution!
Thanks for sharing!