Don't conform… or obfuscate

Some people define insanity as doing the same thing as you have always done and expecting a different result each time.  Well, for me, launching new products, someone could have looked at me and committed me.  I seem to fall into the same trap…well no more!

I shall explain – this isn’t an advert – just self-reflection and honesty.

By now, I hope you know  I work for Scholastic Education.  The type of resource we are traditionally known for is teacher resources (typically A4, with or without a CD-ROM inside).  However, in the last couple of years we have been publishing other types of resource: reciprocal reading, non-fiction guided reading, digital resources such as Story Stage, Class PET and Read & Respond Engage.  Normally, when you launch new products into new areas that you don’t normally publish, you look at the competition, see what they are doing and copy them.

For example, Class PET.  We launched what is a fantastic digital resource as a subscription product.  Something that is the norm for that type of resource, and therefore, why wouldn’t we do this? We hadn’t counted on two things. One was that the market was changing when we launched.  What worked as the norm isn’t necessarily going to work in the future, and secondly, most importantly, it goes against what we do as a business.  (The closest thing Scholastic have to a subscription product are our magazines at £20-£40 a year – not hundreds of pounds a year.)  Therefore, our customers weren’t expecting to see subscription type product from a company that they usually purchase and own the resource from*.  So, we did the thing that most companies steer as far away from as possible: we changed.  We now offer Class PET and Read & Respond Engage as a one-time only purchase, just the same as if you bought a book**.

The part of selling books to schools that has always been clouded in obfuscation is that of guided reading.  Probably not the thing to say as an Educational Publisher!  Look at any publisher of guided reading books, and it seems that 23.6p is added on every time they add a couple of pages.  Well, this time, you can call the men with the white coats off…we are going against the crowd here.  Next month, we are launching a Guided Reading series that are the same price, whether they are for Pink band A, or Orange.  Whether they have four or twelve pages.

No more confusion, no more working out how much something is going to cost. Simple, clear pricing.

The lesson I have learned? To trust my instincts.

*note – our customers are very likely exactly the same as those of companies who do offer subscription products, it is the expectation that is different.

**there is a nominal annual Access and Update fee, but this is for a guarantee that the resource that will work with any future curriculum that is published.

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3 thoughts on “Don't conform… or obfuscate

  1. Mate you are on the money, you have to move and be flexible and every single product you will launch in the future will have to reflect that.

    Software is a strange game, ignoring the platform. The price point has to be reflective of a lot of factors and so does the subscription model. I think Class Pet is great and I think Class Pet Online is going to be even more awesome 😉

  2. thank you John! Class PET has been getting some really lovely attention lately, and we are in over 1000 schools with it now. the majority coming after we changed the pricing to a very simple model. none of the ‘per pupil’ nonsense for us! If you can make it affordable for small schools, then for simplicity we have kept that same price for large schools. No reason to complicate matters!

    Yhanks again for the kind words!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Don’t conform… or obfuscate | chrisrat.com -- Topsy.com

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