See, who is killing your
Online Education business
(to keep article abridged, many points are dropped and would be taken up later)
If you are one of those, who entered into Online Education looking for some good and quick money, its real time to brace up and face the tough times ahead.
What this article talks about –
“What ails Online Education Business” and “what we can do to change the entire downward directed fast moving wheel”?
Not all problems start with the Government of India and so this problem also did not started with 86th Amendment of the Indian Constitution (2002).
Commerce is not bad in Education and World’s Best Universities are successfully being managed around ‘commerce’.
Problem lies with us. We have blown it up.
The Problems ‘Online Education Business’ faces –
No brand loyalty.
Near to zero repeat business.
Near to zero referral business.
Low willingness for premium pricing.
High customer acquisition cost.
Energy, effort and resources required to acquire customer is comparatively equal or even higher than traditional brick and mortar education business.
What went wrong? :-
(Each point has equal weight-age; they are not in order of ranking)
1. Quality –
‘Quality’ is the fundamental premise of ‘Online Education’ and in several cases it is illogically defied.
One ‘Great Faculty/Trainer’ cannot be at several places, so let’s bring him/her onto Online Education. But, as of now what we are doing is that making a poor faculty available across places through Online Education.
Quality is summation of everything we do to make the product/services available to the customer. And. in ‘Online Education’, we are faltering on several parameters.
Youtube and websites of many ‘Online Education’ operators are replete with such examples:
(to keep article abridged, many points are dropped)
Faculty seems poor in content area itself.
Faculty seems orating monologues clearly giving a feel as if reading from a script.
‘Passion’ of faculty with the content area is entirely missing.
Explanation of the concept is entirely missing, and viewer feels as if ‘reading out from book’ is happening.
One may easily find several Videos of Faculty, who are not only having near to little knowledge of the content area, but is equally unable to read from teleprompter / on screen presentation.
‘Emotion’ less Faculty creates a direct disconnect with the learners.
E-Learning materials like Notes, PPT (flash), clearly seems to be directly copied from freely downloadable materials and even Wikipedia.
In several cases, materials like Notes, PPT (flash) have been found to be directly copied from ‘text books’.
If it is an Audio-Visual learning approach, then in maximum cases it is largely failing learners to make him feel even a bit involved with the content areas.
There must be many Online Education providers, who should be doing great job with reference to ‘Quality’, but since overall the Online Education market is presenting a sordid state of affairs, customer is feeling alarmed.
2. Sales Approach –
Let me give you Three Examples.
(to keep article abridged, many points are dropped)
One – “Hiring from Telecom Sector” – This Online Education provider is into selling Educational Product priced at around Rs. 10,000 (ten Thousand). He observes that, there are several Call Centre Executives, working to sell ‘Post Paid’ Connections. He finds, they must be doing great job, that’s why there are so many post paid subscribers. And, entire ‘selling’ is being done through a humble telephone call.
He goes on to recruit real good sales people from ‘Telecom Sector’ and build up the entire team.
His ‘Sales Team’ attends call and customer feels like a buffoon talking.
Now, our humble Online Education provider changes his recruitment strategy to hire ‘only female Telecom sector staff’. Quite natural, many Plus Two and Engineering Graduates are seriously ….. Wrong assumption. He meets with an irrecoverable disaster.
Two – “Hiring from Automobile Sector” – This Online Education provider is into selling Educational Product priced at around Rs. 1,00,000 (One Lakh). He observes that, Automobile Sector Sales people sales cars with a minimum price of Rs. 3,50,000 (Three Lakh and Fifty Thousand). He is entirely confident that the ‘one’ who may sell products worth Rs. 3,50,000 may easily sell products worth Rs. 1,00,000.
He goes on to recruit real good sales people from ‘Automobile Sector’ and builds up the entire team.
Automobile Sector Sales people are really doing wonderful job, MouthShut.com and Complaintboard.in are getting free content uploads and earning huge through ad clicks. Real Great job !!!
Three – “Hiring from Education Sector” – This Online Education provider is smart, he hires ‘Admission Counsellor’ having experience from Educational Institutes. His Sales people are taking ‘Ten’ Calls per day, whereas his costing requires ‘Fifty’ Calls per day. Such Education Sector Sales people came intact with their remarkable ‘sadak chhaap salesgiri’ and is focusing more on same instead ‘Smart Product Sales Skills’. Since years, their Sales Team is working fine, coincidentally, Company is earning huge losses. Company’s Super Manager identifies fault (a non-existing fault), hires great Call Centre Trainers to train their own Sales Team of Educational Sector. Now, ‘Nero Nind Mine’ is happy to get permanent client.
Point is, ‘Online Education’ requires ‘Special’ sales people, smart enough to have in-depth product knowledge and astute enough to deliver more in less time. Sales Team of ‘Online Education’ needs to be master of the entire process of company like – Delivery, Web Platform, Other related accessories, Finance and also Legal stuff. What about ‘Nero Nind Mine’ trainers? Well, they may attend other sectors, and Indian Student seems well adjusted with style, diction, tone and voice etc. (Disclaimer – style, diction, tone and voice has additional value but product knowledge and sales skill is more important).
3. The ‘phony’ syndrome –
In last 5 -6 years, ‘Online Education’ is getting branded as ‘not-good’ and ‘just an additional time-pass’, mainly because of large presence of poor players, who don’t have any ‘Education’ objective.
4. Change of Platform –
When ‘Faculty’ comes on online platform, entire delivery has to re-engineer from a complete new perspective, but providers are also erring on this.
5. Customer awareness –
Buyer and Seller together constitute a market. In our case of ‘Online Education’, not only that the ‘seller’ is part of the problem but Buyer is also a part of the problem.
Buyer of ‘Online Education’ comes with these challenges:
Buyer is throwing a persona that they do not care for quality.
I will negotiate tough on price.
I will play hard to catch, so that I can enjoy by buying process for a bit longer.
Buyer is throwing a persona that they are entirely incapable of comparing various offers.
Buyer is throwing a persona that their ‘Sales Cycle’ is real long.
80% of Market still considers that knowing about google search and Wikipedia is enough.
Buyer treats ‘Online Education’ providers as additional free counselling center, whereby he has not even invested on traveling.
(to keep article abridged, many points are dropped)
6. Online approach to selling –
One thing which we forget that we are selling Online, so it is presume that the customer is ‘online’.
But, our Online selling also seems inappropriate. Firstly, in name of Online Selling, our advertising expenses is getting inflated, second, we have entirely missed on the ‘real online selling part’.
Social Media absence –
We all know that someone who has liked our Fb Page, Linkedin Page is reasonably updated that we have ‘such and such’ product and we ‘sell’ these.
Than ever, online education providers having million likes are just posting product list and its price and nothing else. Whereas there are hundred ways through which we may engage customer.
Social media provides us with larger scope to ‘persuade’ customer to come to us, but we are missing entirely on this.
‘Chat’ services are also in most cases ends with ‘someone from our team will get back to you’.
Customer, in maximum cases of chat asks the same set of questions, but in quite unique way. Chat representative need to be a succinct in their sales communication and other things.
7. Curriculum and Content –
“Great Curriculum, Great Content, lets now make it available to the entire masses”, was the basic premise of Online Education, but, present day ‘Online Education’ is heavily missing on this most essential part.
8. Branding –
Branding in case of ‘Online Education’ can be multifaceted, like Faculty, Presentation, Content, Process, After-support etc. But, due to own shortcomings ‘Online Education’ providers are seriously missing on branding part.
9. General lawlessness –
Jo Baden Ko Laghu Kahe, Nahi Rahim Ghati Jaahi |
Giridhar Murlidhar Kahe, Kachhu Dukh Maanat Naahi ||
Even the great mystic social poet like Rahim, wants credit for his work, that means, IPR, Copyrights, Trademarks are ‘Natural’ laws.
But, Indian consumers has utter disregard for IPR, Copyrights, Trademarks.
An ‘Online Education’ provider needs to think of ways, so that this malaise could be addressed and ‘Great Faculty’ do not fear to share their content, and when they do so they are suitably rewarded.
10. ‘Me-too’ products –
Demand and Supply chases each other, but that doesn’t means that ‘Online Education’ provider can afford to be myopic and shall expect huge success even when it is just a ‘me-too’ product.
11. Video quality, Website Quality, App Quality –
‘Online Education’ videos need not be of ‘Bollywood’ quality movies. But, voice has to be proper, video has to be in such a manner that it get seamlessly delivered, when online.
In maximum cases, the voices of videos are so feeble that learner will feel ‘frustrated’ within 2 minutes.
While sales websites of many ‘Online Education’ providers are swanky, when it comes to delivery website, it shall be usable and not just stylish.
12. The ‘Marketing’ – We lost it all here –
While huge expenses are made by ‘Online Education’ providers, entire ‘Marketing’ plan seems to be going nowhere. It feels like, ‘Online Education’ providers have copied ‘Marketing plan’ from ‘Traditional Brick & Mortar Format’ and is using it online.
We all know ‘Marketing’ is everything, and actually ‘Product’ is a part of marketing. With respect to marketing plan, ‘Online Education’ providers need to be absolute creative to make plan that works.
13. Manpower –
Starting from Faculty, Technical Team, Sales Team everything needs to be immaculately drawn for ‘Online Education’ to be successful.
But, ‘Online Education’ is facing huge challenge not only in term of faculty but also technical and sales team.
Since, Faculty needs to improvise; having an ‘Education Director’ is a wonderful idea. Similarly, each challenges could be addressed, ‘Online Education’ provider just need to come out from his traditional mindset and think creatively to diffuse each challenging situation.
14. What is ‘Online Education’ –
Job of ‘Online Education’ provider is very challenging. Most of the time a customer takes ‘first impression’ of things and carries that to infinity.
With respect to ‘Online Education’ many things are done –
Pre-recorded video lectures
PDF Study materials
Multiple choice Questions Tests
Live Video streaming
Audio Visual training
While each has its own benefit and each is appropriate, as per user and content area, whatever one sees first, takes that as ‘Online Education’.
Example – A customer starts looking for ‘Geography’ class, attends Live Video streaming by one provider, and faces difficulty due to internet speed, faculty quality, and audio.
He makes an impression that ‘Online Education’ is ‘difficult’, and thus several other providers using format like Pre-recorded video lectures, PDF Study materials, Multiple choice Questions Tests, etc have completely lost it.
‘Online Education’ provider needs to address it.
15. Aggregator model –
Can one think of ‘Uber’ before ‘taxi culture’ gets entrenched and before real taxi is available for hire?
Aggregators has arrived, they face huge challenges in terms of ‘product’ and ‘providers’.
So, they have started ‘indiscriminate firing’ and doing whatever on earth they can.
If they continue in such a manner, ‘Online Education’ will become a ‘second hand book selling businesses’.
16. Bringing ‘Traditional Brick & Mortar Format’ ideas into Online Education –
Be it ‘Traditional Brick & Mortar Format’ or Online, the core product is same i.e. Education. But, something what worked for ‘Traditional Brick & Mortar Format’, may not necessarily work for ‘Online Education’.
Several ‘Online Education’ providers are doing this mistake.
They have copied many things from, ‘Traditional Brick & Mortar Format’, like – Discount plans, Sales quips, Products, Content, Study Plan etc. ‘Online Education’ providers has huge opportunity to ‘differentiate’ them, but they lost it in the race of ‘copying’.
17. Poor USP Listing –
When we have erred on four things, inevitably, we get fifth as wrong.
There are several ‘Online Education’ providers who are entirely missing on quoting their UPSs, thus, customer also get myopic about things.
We all know that even best of the products needs effective marketing to sell it.
But, when it comes to ‘Online Education’, we seriously need to comprehend everything and then come up with proper USPs, which our ‘target segment’ might need.
18. ‘Megaupload’ of education –
(I am not getting judgmental whether ‘Megaupload’ was good or bad)
Now there is a new arrival of ‘notes seller’, ‘notes uploader’, ‘question seller’, ‘question uploader’, ‘video seller’, ‘video uploader’.
Premise is simple, students share in physical world, let them share online and make some ‘revenue stream’ out of it. It is somewhat similar to megaupload concept.
These will work on ‘self-righteousness’ approach with a ‘commercial intent’.
Our special customer who already takes Wikipedia as serious education stuff will also take such things seriously and will end up thinking that this is all what is ‘Online Education’.
Job of ‘Online Education’ providers is getting seriously challenging, we all need to buckle up and do a daily rigorous practice.
Till now, ‘Online Education’ has contributed nothing with respect to enlarging market and Education as well.
Presently ‘Online Education’ is coming out like a poor photo copy of ‘Traditional Brick & Mortar Format’ of Education, that’s why ‘Online Education’ is being treated like those ‘photo copy guys’.
Very soon nothing is going to happen, 5 to 10 years is the time we should expect things to fall in its place.
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