It smells great! It makes your skin glow! It protects you from UV rays! yada yada yada, you got to try it out! How many times have you seen one of these soap commercials and thought that this is something I got to have? That’s the magic of effective advertising. This makes me wonder, if advertisements can make a commodity so glamorous, so attractive and so precious, how much impact it can have in making children excited about education.
Advertising should be the first step to attract students towards education today. Studying coursework is something that is becoming the last thing most folks wants to do after playing video games and spending time on facebook, among other things. This is because it looks like the least attractive thing out there. You can argue the quality of education provided at schools is more important. Of course, it is, and that is true even for a soap bar. You advertise to make people buy one, and if the quality of the product is good, they will buy it again. Same is true for education. Advertising in no way, shape or form fills in for bad quality of education. It only complements good quality education to make its “customers” give it a first shot.
Now that we are talking about advertising education, let’s look at some factors that might affect how we go about doing it. Who are the target customers in this case? The aim of advertising education is to make it interesting for the students who think they have a choice of doing something else that looks more attractive than studying. So to limit the scope of this discussion, I would say the target customer is anyone who is currently studying in school. There is large number of kids who never went to school because of some reason or the other. There are lot of issues to deal with in that case, which I would like to talk about in some future posts.
Who is the competitor? This is a little bit tricky. No one is saying your target customers not to study. So you are in a way not competing against anyone directly. But there are a whole slew of products and services out there that are competing to gain attention of a teenager. So that forms your competition. It’s the video game companies, the facebooks and the myspaces, any product that targets time of your target customer.
Who should advertise education? I think it should be clear that I am talking about advertising education, not a perticular school or a perticular school district. As far as educating teenagers is concerned, there can be no one organization or institute that can take this responsibility. Same is true for advertising it or making it attractive. So I think onus for advertising education should be shared by all the organization, institutes and the government, who wants the teenagers to stay in school and remain focused rather than dropping out and getting in trouble.
How to advertise education? That’s the million dollar question. Traditional media advertising might not work that well for advertising education. A few ideas that come to me in this space are around making the effectively use of “competition” to advertise it. The gaming companies and the social networking sites can play a major role in this effort. By creating more games that are related to education material and are equally compelling and attractive as the Halos and Project Gothams, the teenagers will be attracted towards them. Those games should have an education level on them and coolness factor of a player should be how good he or she is in playing these games. The gaming companies and others should go an extra mile to advertise these games and make them competitive enough to make teenagers want to study and excel in them. Facebook platform and the likes should have more applications that are related to education, and promote these applications just like they do photo sharing and music sharing applications to make the visitors collaborate and discuss about education.
The basic idea is to make people taking about education just like they talk about anything interesting in this world. Interest is always a more powerful motivator, much bigger than fear or force, and by effective advertising, interest and attraction can be generated towards education.