The irony of the thing is, any place but a movie theatre, that’s a joke, but if you sit in a theatre and hear ‘In a world‘, you don’t hear laughter.”

Don Lafontaine, the gravel voiced man who has voiced over 3,500 trailers, who wrote his own scripts and popularised the term “In a World…

There are hundreds of books, thousands of blogs and plenty of companies dedicated to marketing but promoting a new software platform into the nascent digital education market is not so well understood, or at least proven.

Web 2.0, blogs, Wikis and RSS are in schools (mainly with the students!) but are still only representative of a small percentage of the communication channels used by the majority of educators. We appreciate that.

Hence schools are still bombarded with old school calls to action: leaflets, Rep visits, catalogues, email newsletters, cold calls and conference requests to name a few. The noise must be deafening. It might not please (or surprise) the more traditional marketeers in our industry but the vast majority of these pleas for attention end up in the bin or ignored. A 1% response rate to a flyer is considered a huge victory. 1%! Think of the trees if nothing else. Just because you can measure it doesn’t mean it’s effective.

The newest generation of educators is no longer passive, but thoroughly proactive when sourcing educational content thanks to the internet. Does this make “marketing” as we understand it obsolete?

So every time the ode team is asked what our marketing strategy is we can only reply “whatever you are used to, we probably won’t do it”. This might lead you to think we’re all about stealth marketing or viral marketing or gaming Digg. But not really, that sounds like the sort of thing that would wind Bill Hicks right up and his genius is unassailable so we’ll give them a miss I think.

You can’t hide from your customers anymore behind corporate speak, business jargon or be overly manipulative. Your mistakes are amplified and your methods transparent to the world. You can no longer control the message.

We don’t want to patronise our users by pretending we’re not in a 2 way conversation with them. This is how really effective marketing has changed since the advent of the internet – you have to try harder to be relevant, be more personable and honest. Just be more exciting. One easy way to understand how using old style marketing cannot really deliver to new style consumers is the modern art of the film trailer.

The 1977 Star Wars trailer:

The 1999 Phantom Menace trailer:

The original 1977 Star Wars trailer makes the film look drab, cheap and unengaging. In fact nothing like the the actual film itself. The Phantom Menace trailer on the other hand makes the film look thrilling, mysterious, epic and heart stopping. In fact everything the film is not. A clear case of the marketing being better than the product, which happens all the time these days. What a let down, eh?

What seems to work best these days is concentrating on involving and talking to your users, getting them passionate about your offering and making the best product you can.

It’s not “If you build it they will come” it’s “If you build it and it’s awesome they will not only come but bring their friends too”.

Your product is the message.