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Building for fun taught me THIS about marketing, customer success, and persistence


The pandemic brought me back to 5th grade.

In a matter of weeks, I was whisked from my college dorm to my childhood bedroom. Helping my brother adjust to his virtual, 5th-grade classroom was what I remembered most from quarantine.

I made him a personalized learning guide with free digital resources to help him avoid the summer and COVID slide.

While I was making it, I thought about families who didn’t have someone with the bandwidth to create similar solutions. Weeks later, I began offering personalized resource guides to a dozen San Francisco Public Library families.

And just like that, “Educated, Honey!” was born.

CONNECT to get your service in the door

I wanted to offer study guides to children across the world. I quickly realized that to make my idea a reality, I needed to start much smaller. I began reaching out to schools that…

  • …I attended.

  • …had partnerships with schools I attended.

After several empty follow-ups I was back to the drawing board, switching my target from schools to libraries.

But as I reached out to different libraries across New York and the Bay Area, I was met with nos, solicitation concerns, and ghosting.

I needed to pivot again.

I remembered that I was a lifelong San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) member. I spent high school summers volunteering at my local branch and received a Summer Read SF scholarship. I was connected and invested in this community, and my service showed it. With that, I’d found my target audience.✅

And they were game to market me.

COMMUNICATE your vision and vibe — and make it digestible

My proposal was credible partly because of my personability.

But what I think ultimately led to the SFPL agreeing to market Educated, Honey! in their newsletter, was my digital visibility.

I didn’t realize it then, but I took the time to brand my service by creating a logo and detailed website with a mission statement and FAQs.

The library’s summer tutoring program had a waitlist. These were the families who were supposed to get connected with my service.

As the days passed I wondered, would anyone reach out?

I soon got an email:

Please I want to sign my kids up. 2nd grade and 6th grade. They need help in their reading and writing.

One turned into another:

How can I get the program started?

Before I knew it, I was up to a dozen.

COLLECT feedback

Mateo loves to do math !!! And the vocabulary . We missed the writing but we can try this week. Thank you

There’s nothing like receiving feedback — especially affirmations that you haven’t asked for it.

It was a relief for me to hear what activities students liked best, or how the workload was easing them into the new school year.

Getting parents to respond to check in emails each week and receive their updated guide wasn’t easy. Connecting with your audience isn’t a two way street.

This led me to overanalyze the flurry of families transitioning from summer break into the new school year. I decided not to bombard them with a feedback survey

Not collecting this feedback was a missed opportunity.

Conclusion

I left summer 2020 with a few takeaways about building, and creating in the education space:

  • Start small — what’s your niche? It’s noble to want to help everyone. But if you don’t start with a target audience, you’ll end up helping no one.

  • Learning is personal. I worked on behalf of students as young as kindergarteners all the way through the seventh grade. The content that showed up in their program guides was relevant to their age, and more importantly, growth areas.

  • Data is key. In addition to the unsolicited parent feedback I got, I wish I sent out a survey to assess the impact of my program in a more systematic way.


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