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COVID-19 has hit businesses hard… but not all are struggling because of declining custom. Some, like e-learning brand MyTutor, are under pressure to keep up with increased demand.
The online tuition platform launched a free online school within a week of UK schools closing and, as a result, Chief Marketing Officer Nicola Anderson has been busy adapting MyTutor’s marketing strategy.
“Usually, we help students get their best exam grades and support them with their progress at school – so with exams cancelled and schools closed we had to rethink a few things!” she says.
“The increase in demand we’d normally see in the run-up to exams is no longer there (since all exams have been cancelled), but at the same time parents everywhere are trying to homeschool their kids so online tuition is a great solution.”
Making 20 hours of live group tutorials available free of charge every week is letting MyTutor be discovered by new audiences – audiences that are more receptive than ever to the concept of virtual tuition.
With schools closed, homeschooling has opened up a whole new way for us to support parents during this difficult time.
The platform no longer needs to work hard to communicate the benefits of online over in-person – everyone understands implicitly, and people are looking for online support as a default.
Says Anderson: “Before coronavirus, our headline message was on boosting exam grades, but now it’s all about keeping your child’s education going from home and preparing for the next school year.”
An unexpected benefit of the coronavirus pandemic is that it has presented MyTutor with an opportunity to promote online tuition to a more diverse range of people. Anderson and her team are aiming to show that it’s something that is both accessible and affordable.
“The increase in online learning across the UK – and the world – has made driving awareness of what we do a top priority,” she says. “We want to remove some of the assumptions around tuition, specifically that it’s expensive and only for the elite. The impact of one-to-one tuition on kids’ confidence and grades is huge, and we’re widening access to this highly effective form of learning.”
While many brands have slashed marketing budgets, MyTutor has maintained its media spend. It has, however, flipped the messaging and creative of its ads to make them more relevant to the current situation.
Content marketing and organic social have also been adapted accordingly. As part of this, the brand has been working very closely with its PR agency and with journalists and bloggers to make sure it’s providing useful articles and features for parents trying to homeschool.
We had to flip our digital advertising messaging around overnight.
Right now, Anderson says marketing needs to be real-time and responsive: “We need to be extremely agile based on the current environment, so we’re constantly reviewing and testing what’s resonating most with parents. It’s also much harder to determine longer-term strategies, so we have multiple plans which we’ll follow depending on how things pan out.”
Understanding the pain points for parents who have suddenly been thrust into the role of teacher is a high priority for Anderson. To gain insights, MyTutor works with Attest to run consumer surveys, in addition to conducting research with users.
“We recently gathered lots of information from parents about how they’re managing in lockdown. We also have in-depth conversations with members of our parent panel – this is a group of parents who are big supporters of MyTutor and regularly offer us their time and experience.”
The research indicates that COVID-19 could be a turning point for MyTutor, and for online education in general.
I think there have been some fundamental shifts in user behaviour which won’t revert when lockdown has lifted.
“Everyone having to stay home has fast-tracked the adoption of online learning as a mainstream form of education, whereas previously this was one of the biggest challenges for our business.”
Like so many marketing teams, Anderson and her colleagues have not only had to re-think brand strategy but also adapt their own internal ways of working. With the MyTutor team working remotely, pulling off such a turn around has been challenging.
Balancing short term tactics with longer-term strategy has been an inevitable challenge in the current climate.
“With everyone working remotely, collaboration across the business isn’t as easy as when everyone’s in the same room, so we’ve had to work out some new creative processes.”
New ways of working include daily digital check-ins, video conferencing and virtual offsites for planning. “Some of our team members are balancing the working day with childcare (just like our customers!), so we’ve also made sure to accommodate everyone’s individual needs.”
In order to thrive in this environment, the most important thing says Anderson, is to stay agile. CMOs must be ready to adapt to each new scenario. Because, if there’s one thing we’re all learning, it’s that there’s further change on the horizon.
Find out how marketing leaders across a range of sectors are adapting their strategies to survive and thrive.
Senior Content Writer
Bel has a background in newspaper and magazine journalism but loves to geek-out with Attest consumer data to write in-depth reports. Inherently nosy, she's endlessly excited to pose questions to Attest's audience of 125 million global consumers. She also likes cake.
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