The Internet has revolutionized teaching, learning – and marketing to schools. But the adage “what’s old is new again” has never been more true than in the world of marketing to educators. The buzz among my colleagues in the school market is about email, websites, blogs, streaming video, and other interactive and social networking media. These channels are great additions to the education marketer’s tool kit. But once you’ve built a cool website complete with a blog, searchable library of lesson plans, and teachers' chat room, how do you get educators to come to it and use it? That’s where tried-and-true channels for marketing to schools come into play and are a great fit with the new pieces of the education marketing puzzle. Leveraging the strengths of catalogs, print ads, direct mailers, and literature distributed at educator conferences can lead to a big leap in traffic for your website. Here's why.
Although we live in a technological age, educators still rely on and trust printed materials such as catalogs, ads in trade magazines, direct mailers, and the literature they pick up at educator conferences. A Vertis Communication’s 2007 Customer Focus survey found 85% of women ages 25-44 read printed direct-mail marketing pieces, despite all the electronically generated ads – good news for education marketers given that 75% of educators are female (NCES Mini-Digest of Education Statistics 2006).
Additionally, print materials stay available for reference until you throw them away. An online ad disappears or rotates, making it difficult for people who don’t respond immediately to the stimulus to get to your website. While URLs are easy for people to email to one another, it's easier to share an ad from a magazine by giving it to a fellow educator or dropping an interesting catalog off at the principal’s office. Teachers share information and ideas with one another regularly. Printed catalogs, reports and white papers, magazine ads, and product information sheets are passed around schools from teacher to teacher and often stored in a resource library for future reference.
You’ll reach a lot more school decision-makers and drive your message home with integrated marketing. If you’ve got a back-to-school sale or discount, send a postcard, run an ad, or send an email. Make sure each component directs people to your website for the full details of the sale. To be eligible for the sale or discount, require people to download a coupon from your website or get a promotion code found only on the website. Regardless of whether or not your product can be purchased online, use the sale to drive educators to your website, not just to purchase your product, but to begin to engage with your brand.
Exhibiting at educator conferences is one of the most popular ways school market companies generate sales leads. They are an excellent targeted-marketing opportunity and the chance to interact with customers face to face. That's why there is so much attention devoted to conference exhibit marketing on the SellingToSchools website. Many of the articles on STS mention a key success factor for educator trade shows – pre-show promotion, whether by advertising, email, direct mail, direct sales, or telemarketing. You need to get attendees familiar with not only your booth number but also your URL so they can research your company and products before ever arriving at the event. While at the show, make sure your URL is prominently displayed on your booth, promotional give-away items, and collateral.
It’s an exciting time to be an educational marketer. Every day there are new marketing tools to explore and integrate into your education marketing mix. Staying on the cutting edge is important to your business’s success, but don’t forsake the old tried-and-true marketing techniques. Direct mail and catalogs are still the backbone are your surest vehicles for making your new media initiatives for schools successful. Traditional marketing methods combined with new channels will improve your sales in the education market. So leverage the strengths of these reliable pieces of the education marketing puzzle to increase your web traffic and establish your brand as a leader in the industry.