Education Channel Alert: The Homeschool Market — Part 3 of 3

Finding Education Sales Opportunities in the Growing Homeschool Market: Part 3 – Networking with Homeschoolers at Conferences and Curriculum Fairs

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.

Education Marketing Tip: Know Your Venue to Improve Your Homeschool Convention Success

Knowing your venue will help you tailor your product or service for the particular needs of visitors to each of the three convention types.

  1. Homeschool Convention. A large gathering that promotes homeschool resources and usually features expert speakers and workshops
  2. Homeschool Conference. Similar to a convention, but typically has a specific theme
  3. Homeschool Curriculum Fair. Regional or local homeschool event that offers new and used curricular materials

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.

How to Draw Prospects to Your Exhibit and Make a Good Impression

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:

  • Make your exhibit accessible to as many people as possible.  No one wants to wait in line. With hundreds of booths to visit, it is a very busy day for these parents. Many come with a list of what they want to learn more about.
  • Display meaningful signage. Show your product name but also include what it does. Visitors will appreciate the time you save them trying to figure out if they want to visit your booth, and that’s part of making a good impression.
  • Have a product sample open. Visitors will want to take a close look at what you have to offer. Also, any hands-on product should be demonstrated.
  • Show an instructional video. If people have to wait, this is helpful to keep them interested in what your product offers. This can also draw them in as they walk by.
  • Provide free sample pages. A hand-out will help them keep your product in mind after they have left the convention. Make that connection count!
  • Give a discount with coupon codes or coupons. They will expect some kind of special offer with their convention visit, so give it to them.
  • Display a sign-up sheet. Offer extra information or updates, while getting their contact information for future sales opportunities. Be sure to let them know their information is safe with you and follow through on that promise.
  • Conduct a drawing or giveaway. Like having a sign-up sheet, you will be able to get contact information, but you may get more response from this.
  • Be approachable and helpful. Homeschoolers want to know what your support is going to be like after they purchase your product. Show them you care.

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.

What Visitors Expect from Exhibitors at Homeschool Conventions

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!

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