With a big presentation coming up, and nerves jangling, I was delighted to find a handbook of communication tips provided free of charge by Aristo. It was so helpful to get such insightful and practical ideas from Andrew Keogh, an acknowledged expert in the field.
Later, I realised that our team at themathstutor.ie could provide something of similar value, in the area of Irish secondary maths education, for our own existing and potential customers.
Creating a White PaperI'd like to share how we went about creating our own expert guide, and I hope to pass on the inspiration for you to do something similar.
Our first step was to decide on the topic. There was a clear need for students to get help with exam technique, in the context of the new Project Maths syllabus for Irish second level maths.
While many individuals and companies had "given it a go", no-one had fully met the need for a definitive guide for Irish maths students.
We already had a good general hand-out on exam technique, and themathstutor.ie has lots of expertise in our team on this topic. We decided to do a major re-write of the document, updating the content and re-formatting it into a school-bag friendly booklet, aimed at Junior Cert and Leaving Cert maths students.
In doing so, we made sure to tie it in with the overall branding of themathstutor.ie in terms of design, colour-scheme and logo.
While it was very important to get the packaging right, the content itself was the key: making sure it was unique, original and useful.
We kept the customer view-point to the fore-front: what's the problem that we're solving with this booklet?
We realised that students are confused by the new exam format and marking schemes, and that they also need guidance on maths exam technique. We had to address both of these needs, while keeping our document clear and simple, without sacrificing accuracy and completeness.
A Thoughtful GiftAfter much consultation, and several re-writes, we finalised a 12-page A5 booklet, entitled 'Maximise Your Maths Grade'.
The next step was easy: publishing it online in PDF format, ready for immediate download.
We also arranged to have a large quantity of full-colour hard copies printed. This provides themathstutor.ie with the perfect ice-breaker when we meet students, parents and teachers. We've used these to great effect when exhibiting at the Irish Maths Teachers Association conference, at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, and also when we have meetings with school teachers and principals.
Likewise, it's very useful to offer something like this when emailing or telephoning someone, and it's appreciated when we follow up with complimentary copies by mail. A gift is always better when it's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into it - a free biro or a stress ball doesn't really compare!
As well as creating a positive first impression with prospective customers, our booklet serves to reinforce the position and credibility of themathstutor.ie as the online experts in second level maths in Ireland.
The ChallengeWe've invested a lot of time, effort and money in publishing our white paper. But we're more than happy to do so, as we're providing something of huge value to Irish maths students, while also discreetly promoting our business.
I believe that most businesses could also follow Andrew's example, by writing their own white paper and creating something unique, concise and insightful based on their own specialist knowledge. Are you up for the challenge?
It's a wonderful opportunity to distil your expertise on a topic, to provide something useful, and to greatly enhance your reputation in your marketplace.