EdTech: Brand Positioning

 

Background:

ArborBridge is an elite online SAT test prep company headquartered in Santa Monica, CA. They approached Ditto in September 2014 with two seemingly paradoxical requests: first, they wanted to increase their visibility among the upper- and upper-middle-class families who comprise the customer base of their flagship product, a high-end tutoring service. Second, they wanted Ditto’s support in launching a more affordable SAT prep service called truePrep.

Although ArborBridge execs were confident that they offer a better service and deliver better results than the SAT prep industry stalwarts, Kaplan and Princeton Review, they struggled to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Strategy:

With little name recognition outside its industry, Ditto knew that the likelihood of a reporter writing solely about ArborBridge as a standalone story was slim. Instead, the team pitched top-tier personal finance reporters a story on how parents can weigh the costs of different SAT prep services against the results they deliver – and ended up placing a story written by the New York Times’ “Your Money” reporter Ann Carrns. The story positioned ArborBridge as a costlier – but more elite – service compared to its competitors.

Because ArborBridge’s primary goal was to reach its key decision-makers – parents of high schoolers – Ditto targeted publications that are widely read by this audience, including daily newspapers, news magazines, and websites dedicated to the college application process.

In February 2015, ArborBridge launched its more affordable service, truePrep. Knowing that few reporters cover product launch announcements, Ditto developed a number of storylines to pitch different types of outlets, such as customized, online learning as the future of education and companies that allow employees to set their own hours.

In April 2015, Ditto turned what would be a straightforward partnership announcement – with the Shanghai-based college admissions consulting company ChaseFuture – into a timely and internationally relevant story about the similarities and differences between SAT prep programs in America and China.

Results:

During the six months that ArborBridge worked with Ditto, they received a total of 27 media placements – 17 for ArborBridge and 10 for truePrep – in outlets that included national mainstream media (New York Times, CNBC, TIME, U.S. News & World Report), influential websites (MarketWatch, Credit.com, BusinessNewsDaily), education trades (RealClearEducation, EdTech Digest) and regional Los Angeles media (Los Angeles Business Journal, Orange County Register, socalTECH).