Sunday, 14 June 2015

Get2ISTE2016: Ways to get Support During ISTE2015

Three educators heading to ISTE through alternative funding via #Get2ISTE has proven the concept could work and could be worth further exploration.

But will the idea be successfully rolled out or adopted? As this is a new way of doing things, the odds are not necessarily favourable. This post looks at ways that educators who are interested in seeing this model work might want to consider using to put social proof to work at ISTE this year.

This may be necessary to demonstrate to stakeholders who have not engaged with the idea yet, but who are vital to making it work.

If educators are interested in seeing this work they will need to demonstrate there is more demand for the idea compared with more traditional forms of marketing. Otherwise the status quo will remain in place.

"Discontinuous innovations can be ahead of their time and users are not ready to spend money or change habits for unproven benefits. The company (In this case an idea) may run out of money (Causes don't get funded) waiting for the market to develop" Crossing the Chasm

Anyone who knows the background to #Get2ISTE may want to skip the first section of this post, although it does reiterate the need for listening to educators, co-creating with potential users and the importance of trial and error with new ideas.

#Get2ISTE Background
At ISTE 2013 Steven Johnston gave a keynote about his research on "Where Ideas Come From" and slow hunches. This idea came from a number of sources;

Sales Experience: Through exhibiting at conferences at with former employers, I found the existing model to be frustrating for all stakeholders: my employer, educators and the team manning the stand (For more info see: The Trouble with Conferences).

Listening to Educators: Prior to #ISTE14 one of the #EdTechChat moderators said they would not be able to make the chat's ISTE Tweetup due to costs. This prompted me to write wrote a post detailing the situation and the rationale for "social tipping" to suggest how and why various stakeholders could contribute. (EdChat Moderators: ISTE or Bust)

The idea wasn't very well received. Either the suggestion wasn't put across in a compelling enough way for people to take action, or there were too many objections around the idea... namely that educators felt this would be benefiting financially from hosting their chat.

The marketing success of ISTE14 for me was Tweechme App, and provided some further (And very compelling) evidence to suggest Get2ISTE had value. Susan Bearden collaborated with Mad Learn to develop the TweechMe App and the Twitter stream was buzzing about this app during ISTE.

EdTechChat: As Susan is a moderator for EdTechChat so, if we add Tweechme to the mix, then every aspect of this idea originates from this chat.

In addition to this, I have been developing an idea that also has its origins based on insights gained from EdTechChat for the past year.

Dec 13: I saw the writing was on the wall for sales reps via EdTechChat
Proof of Concept: Through collaborating with Nikki Robertson and Steve Isaacs in a number of ways, Get2ISTE was able to be discussed in a different context. 

Through their work with Nurph, Nikki and Steve removed these objections about educators "selling out," which facilitated discussions with other early adopters. There were a few models that were discussed, and other objections were raised and obstacles to overcome.

These were navigated through and PledgeCents created their #Get2ISTE causes. Three educators are heading to ISTE through this alternative model of support.

Is Get2ISTE Set to Become a Success? Erm, Probably Not...
So is ISTE a success? Is it set to become a success in 2016? I would argue that while the potential is there for it to be a success, as things stand, this is unlikely to be the case.

Given the lack of support from suppliers and event organisers to date (on social media, at least), one potential outcome is that there will be lots of causes created but they will go unfulfilled. This may impact on educators view of the crowd funding platform, and may even have a knock on effect on the potential these users feel crowd funding for classroom resources, which is significant*!

To prevent this from happening, anyone who would like to see this adopted might want to put "social proof" to work to demonstrate to suppliers there is a demand for Get2ISTE.

The rest of this post includes ways to get suppliers involved with #Get2ISTE16 at this years' conference.

*NB Know anyone Looking to crowdfund a 3D Printer? This suggestion and collaboration with 3D Hubs might see more causes get fulfilled: Crowdfunding for Edu in 3D.

Proof of Concept
The first thing to do might be to demonstrate that this isn't a new idea, and this kind of support probably happens at most conferences.

Companies like Apple, Google, ClassDojo, Edmodo, BrainPop and Glogster have ambassador programs, some of which may cover expenses for educators to attend events and discuss how they collaborated in the development stages, and how they use the services in class at these conferences and workshops etc.

There are also other educators who will do the same level of co-creating and evangelising via social media, but don't get taken to events etc.

To put "social proof" to work here we could ask educators 3 questions:
  • Have you ever collaborated and/or co-created a product or service with a company?
  • Do you regularly recommend a particular product or service to your PLN?
  • Have you ever been invited to attend an event on behalf of any suppliers?
In the first 5 weeks of EdTechChat 40 companies were mentioned 400 times, so these things already take place and companies benefit from educators input.

For the purposes of Get2ISTE, it might be useful to highlight the extent that this collaboration already takes place. Please feel free to take a moment to fill out this brief survey;

Further evidence for suppliers supporting Get2ISTE can be found when we consider how peer reviews are perceived compared with the company's sales efforts as

1) Word of mouth referrals are the most effective method of sales
2) The level of suspicion that sales people are viewed with

Combine all this together and throw in the reach and influence that connected educators have, and we can see why educators are more effective than anything a company rep might be able to do to get traction with an idea.

Being cost effective for the supplier and helping educators make it to ISTE is surely some win-win collaboration.

Selfless Givers Vs the Psychopathic Corporation
Could you envisage a sales rep putting together the same kind of resources as Jerry Blumengarten has, without looking for compensation?

Can you imagine educators charging for access to their site or sending an invoice to companies for featuring them on their website?

Educators are selfless givers, they'll help anyone they can... but don't tend to ask for help themselves.

Compare this with the profile of corporations. The documentary "The Corporation" suggests that if corporations were people, they would fit the World Health Organisation's profile for psychopaths. Therefore, they may not be all that generous and/or a willing candidate give anything they don't have to...

The Pathology of a Corporation
Obviously this is a massive generalisation and there are a lot of EdTech companies who have a fantastic culture and listen to educators and find various ways of showing that they value their time.

This survey could demonstrate the extent that these types of suppliers listen to educators. If it can be demonstrated that something is in their best interests, a corporation that has any psychopathic tendencies it might be possible to sell an idea like Get2ISTE to them.

Existing Customers & Word of Mouth Referrals
A manufacturer is not through with his customer when a sale is completed. He has then only started with his customer...the sale is only something in the nature of an introduction. If the product does not give service, then it is better for the manufacturer if he never had the Introduction, for he will have the worst of all advertisements – a dissatisfied customer. Henry Ford

By far the most effective sales and marketing is word of mouth referrals. A high net promoter score is a great indicator to let suppliers know if they have achieved product market fit.

Net Promoter Score is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. By asking one simple question

How likely is it that you would recommend Get2ISTE to a friend or colleague? 

You can track these groups and get a clear measure of your company’s performance through your customers’ eyes. Customers respond on a 0-to-10 point rating scale and are categorized as follows:
  • Promoters are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.
The three existing customers may be pretty pleased with #Get2ISTE, so may do lots of evangelising at the event.

The 4-5 people who did not reach their goal could potentially become detractors and/or less likely to use the service again, so it's important to learn from this group and find out if anything could have been done differently.

Early adopters and Get2ISTE Proponents
In Crossing the Chasm Geoffrey Moore discusses the Technology Adoption Cycle, how 20% of any market is made up of the early adopters. Moore uses electric cars to look at the different profiles.

I think that it could be safely argued that the majority of educators attending ISTE fall into the "I want to be first to use new technology" category.

I wonder how many new discontinuous innovations that ISTE delegates have championed and introduced to their colleagues, schools, districts and other communities that they are involved with.

Supply and Demand Issues
There may only be three people who will Get2ISTE through crowd funding but, given the conference will be full of early adopters, a high level of interest it could mean #Get2ISTE2016 will have some supply and demand issues.

For examples, if Nikki Robertson was to recommend Get2ISTE at her Birds of a Feather ISTE presentation, with her sales skills and the potential reach of this audience, the demand could easily be very high.

Without the support of suppliers there would be the potential of lots of unfulfilled causes.

Unfulfilled causes may see the idea fail to "Cross the Chasm," and die a quiet death after limping along for a few years with hit and miss results. However, this doesn't need to be the case... Not if a little hustle and social proof was used.

Demonstrate Demand
Social Media: If Nikki suggested that any Birds of a Feather attendees who would like to see Get2ISTE thrive to;

1) Ask their followers to RT details of Get2ISTE if they are supportive of the idea.

2) @Mention any suppliers they are proponents of if they were happy to evangelise on their behalf.

Social proof would be particularly effective if everyone did this during the conference, and at the same time.

Obviously anyone who opens a #Get2ISTE 2016 cause could follow suit by Tweeting out that they've signed up to Get2ISTE and @Mention companies they use and like.

Demand could also be created by educators encouraging their PLN to sign up to #Get2ISTE. A competition where the person who signs the most people up to Get2ISTE 2016 could be going to Denver courtesy of ISTE/PledgeCents (And could involve an exhibitor or supplier through sponsoring the competition)

In Real Life...
If people attending ISTE decide to open a Get2ISTE cause before or during ISTE2015 having a T-Shirt with text like
                                               "Ask how you can help me Get2ISTE 2016"

Could work well. Equally, the crowdfunding platform or organisers could print some T-shirts and hand them out to anyone who registers their cause at the conference and recommend delegates wear them at ISTE.

This would be another way to put social  proof to work at the event, the more people wearing Get2ISTE T-shirts... the more educators will demonstrate there is demand and an appetite for change... the more this will influence suppliers to consider alternative marketing opportunities that would be welcome by educators.

There may not be time to print T-shirts, but there would be time to print off some badges/Stickers, it may not look as snazzy, but could be just as effective. 

How to start a Revolution: T-shirts are a great way to show support for a cause 
If enough educators wear t-shirts/badges during the conference to highlight to suppliers that there is a demand for this, and might encourage sales and marketing reps to give it a try.

Educators might also want to discuss this initiative with ISTE exhibitors whose product they use, and let them know they would be happy talking about the product with other teachers at next year's event.

Ask for the Business
Speaking from painful experience, I know educators can feel pressured by vendors in various ways at conferences... so how about turning the tables? If educators have opened a Get2ISTE cause and are feeling pressured by exhibitors maybe they could say "Sure I'll come and listen to your pitch, if you listen to my pitch for Get2ISTE"

This need not be with the expectation of getting a contribution (exhibitors have already paid for an exhibition stand, so this would be pretty unfair), but it would mean that suppliers and organisers would see there is demand and may be more likely to factor Get2ISTE into their marketing budget in 2016.

Post Conference
If educators show enough of an interest, ISTE organisers may also get involved. When taking a booking from exhibitors next year, perhaps there will be an option on the booking form asking

"Do you want to contribute $100 to our Get2ISTE fund to help educators get to the event?"

500 Exhibitors paying $100 would be $50,000 and ISTE could arrange an event for contributing exhibitors and recipients to meet up to discuss how they can support each other and provide an ROI.

I can see a number of ways that this initiative could be developed and lead to even more collaboration with suppliers and educators, but there is no point mentioning these as this would need to take off first.

If the dynamics from the 2015 pilot remain unchanged ie Less than 50% of causes fulfilled, little involvement from suppliers or organisers (based on activity on social media), then the idea will most likely fail in the medium-long term.

Self Promotion Vs Sales Vs How can I Help
I've written 6 or 7 posts on this idea now. Some posts have been to outline the idea, others to discuss (and attempt to remove) any objections, and some are to raise awareness of the idea.

Some people have suggested that I am promoting my own stuff when discussing Get2ISTE. I don't feel this is my idea... If anything it is the brainchild of EdTechChat, and I've simply taken a moment to detail my sales experience and to explore the idea.

I'm not trying to "sell" an idea to anyone... and I have no interested in "selling" anything to anyone either. However, I understand that ideas need a bit of a nudge to get them started before people buy into them.

If the right level of buy in is not achieved with all stakeholders, Get2ISTE is unlikely to work. So I've taken a moment to suggest some things that might help.

I have a standing offer of "How can I help you achieve your goals" to any educator or EdTech supplier who has a great culture and is doing good work.

I've taken my experiences with attending conferences, insights from EdChats, my involvement with Get2ISTE, my sales research, considered some potential challenges and suggested ways to put social proof to work in the hope of addressing these challenges.

However, the only way any of these ideas will work is if enough people act, if they don't any impact will be limited.

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