Yesterday, I received an email from someone claiming their company was the “#1 education property on the internet.”
Aside from checking my phone to make sure the year wasn’t 1999, I had a good chuckle imagining the copywriting genius it took to compose that gem. Strike one.
As I read further, this person invoked the name of my boss (the president of our college) and referenced a letter he had FedEx’d him (“wow – would you look at that – a Western Union Telegram!”), in order to elicit a sales call with me on their product. For those playing along at home, we call this “strike two.”
Examining the missive even closer, I noticed that there were two different font faces (and sizes) where the person had cut and pasted the boilerplate into the message, but forgot to correct the capital “U” (where he started to type “University”, but instead wrote “UCollege”). Strike three. Next batter, please.
Look – we all have jobs to do. It’s a never ending “arms race” to get past gate keepers, and in front of decision makers. I get it. We all get it.
Pulling cheap marketing stunts (a FedEx letter? Really?) isn’t the way to endear your way into a bona fide sales call.
And, if you’re gonna cut and paste some horrific copy, please make sure that you atleast get our / my name right and the style matches.
But – and for me, most importantly – don’t claim a relationship with people in my organization that you obviously don’t have (and can be checked with a text, email, or call – which I always do when someone makes a claim of a prior relationship).
Spotting amateur hour is an occupational hazard in any managerial position. At the very least, make it look like you’re trying.
One of the big laments this holiday shopping season (at least by retailers like Best Buy) is that customers are coming into physical stores to “showroom” electronic gadgets, and then going back home to buy their products online on Amazon – for far less money.
With all the oxygen in the room being sucked in by MOOCs, edX, and startups like Udacity and Coursera, one has to ask – are Colleges and Universities similarly victims of “Showrooming?”
The jury is still out.
However, if startups like Udacity and edX can parley their currently free courses into fungible and demonstrably marketable credentials, then it’s Katy-bar-the-door: it’s over.
You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see that changes are coming. All you have to do is visit your nearest bricks-and-mortar, big-box electronic retailer, and replace “laptop” or “TV” with “degree” in your mind.
You know the old Sales saw: “if you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are.”
I’ve been thinking about this quote quite a bit this past year, as our school implements telepresence on campus.
Traditionally, when one envisions telepresence or teleconferencing, one tends to think of tricked-out conference rooms, with large flat screen TVs and HD cameras, and everyone sitting at a long table.
In the college classroom, that setup is a total non-starter. Except for the smallest of seminars, college classrooms don’t look that way, and faculty don’t teach that way.
Yet, still today, when you do happen to stumble across teleconferencing at many schools, the “classrooms” are really very specialized, high value conference rooms that wind up being virtually (no pun intended) unused. (Saying to myself “we had one of those”).
So – what’s the solution?
Fish Where The Fish Are.
Put your telepresence / teleconferencing dollars where teaching happens – in actualclassrooms.
Your faculty is not going to invest time in learning how to work technology in a room that they never visit, is halfway across campus, and is controlled by one or more other departments. But, if telepresence is in the places where your faculty lives, inside their classrooms, you stand a fighting chance of actually doing what you want to do in the first place with the technology – enable highly engaged students to learn, because now the technology is a part of their day to day experience and ecosystem.
There are plenty of challenges to effectively implement and support telepresence at any school (not the least of which are funding, developing great relationships with teleconferencing vendors and channel partners, and developing support staff who understand the technology).
Improve your chances of teleconferencing teaching success by putting the tech in the classroom, not the board room.