Education Brand Marketing: How Mainland Positioned Sylvan Learning as a Top Education Franchise

By securing hundreds of media interviews and placements for the supplemental learning brand and highlighting its uniquely lucrative offering in a challenging marketplace, the content marketing agency kept the legacy brand’s growth moving forward.

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    With more than 40 years of experience and more than 750 locations throughout North America, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of supplemental learning for students in grades K–12. As Sylvan continues to grow, Mainland works closely with the franchise to create and pitch stories that highlight the brand’s uniquely compelling points of differentiation from competitors.


    When COVID-19 forced businesses to pivot away from on-premise services in early 2020, Sylvan Learning was in a strong position to help families as schools closed. But they needed a partner to help effectively share that message, which would position the brand as a uniquely stable and lucrative business opportunity in a tumultuous economic landscape.


    To reach both parents and prospective franchisees, Mainland created a pool of strategic content that underlined Sylvan’s well-positioned consumer and franchise offering for specific target audiences. Mainland then successfully pitched those stories to a range of outlets whose audiences aligned with Sylvan’s target demographics. Armed with content and earned PR placements, Mainland’s content engine,, amplified the reach, targeting a specific B2B audience.

    In March, Sylvan Learning introduced a virtual tutoring option as school districts transitioned to remote learning. The brand also rolled out a mobile app in some markets that allows parents to book virtual lessons with Sylvan-approved tutors. In April, the brand began offering free, live mini-camps for elementary, middle and high school students, and some locations offered booking via an app with Sylvan approved tutors. In the fall, the brand also launched small-group school support. The brand is also continuing to utilize its proprietary software, SylvanSync™, which provides teachers and students with adaptive practice sessions.

    To elevate its support for franchise owners, Sylvan Learning rolled out a $2.5 million royalty and fee deferral program in conjunction with its majority owners, certain institutional client accounts managed by Guggenheim Investments. The royalty and fee deferral program ensured that franchise owners had the support they needed to continue providing solutions to families in need of educational support.

    Mainland ensured that those advancements were packaged in compelling stories and delivered to the audiences Sylvan wanted to reach.


    By October of this 2020, Mainland secured 124 interviews and 125 secured placements that positioned Sylvan Learning as an invaluable resource for families and a singularly promising business opportunity for prospective franchisees.


    According to John McAuliffe, CEO of Sylvan Learning, the brand’s system is stronger, more nimble and more united than ever. “We are confident we will exit [the COVID crisis] as a company that has transformed itself to better serve every family’s educational needs in the most convenient way, whether they prefer in-center, in-home or online delivery,” he said.

    Sylvan Learning was able to make the most of that transformation, strategically sharing stories to target audiences through secured media placements, interviews and other content created by Mainland and posted to Sylvan’s 1851 Franchise brand page.

    Mainland thrives on telling unique and compelling stories that will resonate with a brand’s specific audience. Mainland CEO Nick Powills says that in today’s content world, “it’s about the message the audience wants to read, not the message the writer wants to deliver. We have nailed key personas, and when we’re creating stories, we can story-tell the way a specific audience wants to learn about the brand. Mainland also creates content that flows and takes candidates on a validation and research journey of the brand.”

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