In part one and part two of this three-part series focusing on the homeschool market, you learned about the characteristics of homeschoolers and the different activities common to homeschool groups. With that background in mind, let's explore networking within larger venues: homeschool conventions, conferences, and curriculum fairs. (For the purposes of this article, all types are referred to as conventions.)
Many homeschoolers eagerly anticipate annual conventions. They want to learn about new products, view products they’ve heard about, attend workshops and talks by experts in the homeschool community, and connect with other homeschooling families. This is your opportunity to network on a large scale with an enthusiastic and open group of people. Prepare yourself by learning about the characteristics of different venues, how to draw interest to your booth, and what homeschool families are expecting from conventions.
Knowing your venue will help you tailor your product or service for the particular needs of visitors to each of the three convention types.
Conventions are not just a trade show to show your product; they are an opportunity to connect to the homeschool market and build relationships. They also offer another opportunity to brand your product and develop product recognition.
Be sure to reach out to other vendors. They are interested in what you have to offer, as they may supply only a certain type of product and your product might be complimentary to theirs. This is another opportunity to get recognition and exposure in the community.
When you have homeschool families visiting your exhibit, the impressions you make with both your product and your company are equally important. Many of the exhibit marketing tips and advice here on SellingToSchools.com are important for homeschoolers as well. Keep in mind you will be judged on your interest in helping homeschooling parents reach their children’s educational needs. As I mentioned in the previous articles, a connection is important in the homeschool community. Here are ways to make that connection:
Your goal should be to start a relationship with potential customers from the first moment they see your exhibit. Be sure to have a clear plan to communicate what your product is about and then show visitors with the look of your booth, your product display, and the behavior of the exhibit staff.
Homeschoolers expect deep discounts at conventions. Don’t hesitate to have a special price for the day of the convention only or for a weekend. If they receive the product that day or it is shipped to them, they will be happy they attended the convention.
Sales will not stop when the convention is over. Many families will take time to look over your handouts or evaluate information you provide through e-mail before they decide. Make sure you give them a coupon or discount code to motivate them to make a buying decision.
Networking in the homeschool community can be very rewarding for your company when you take the time to learn about the different types of homeschoolers and their activities, and then implement a respectful and knowledgeable marketing plan. If you are serious about developing a business with homeschoolers, a good place to start is by studying the information in the three-part series here on STS. I'm confident that these tips will help you understand the homeschool market. I wish you much success with your products!