Every year the education budget in the UK is set to over £85 billion and successive governments seem very keen on protecting this portion of their budget. The reasons for this are plenty but that’s not what we want to discuss here, it kind of doesn’t matter. What matters is how you get your business in front of school buyers, how you market to schools and how you make schools a part of your turnover.
Because their budgets are being protected, it is important to remember that once you have a good database of schools buying from you, provided you look after them and provide a good service, you will enjoy a good customer life span and a reliable source of income. Public sector bodies like schools also pay you on time giving you reliable cashflow. So, just how do you market to schools and guarantee yourself a good return on your investment.
Well firstly, it is important for you to know your audience. Within a school there will be scores of budget holders and decision makers. Companies selling textbooks based around Maths or French have the easiest task – target the heads of these departments. Companies selling catering or maintenance services have a slightly more segmented task – in a Primary school it is likely you will be dealing with the head, in a Secondary school you could be dealing with the bursar, the business manager, or the catering or site manager. Right from the start when you embark on a campaign to market to schools, you must remember to get the target right. You are not selling to the school, you are usually marketing to department within it.
Secondly, you need to know how your product is relevant to schools and market your product to schools accordingly. Again with the textbooks, this is easy, your whole product is probably designed for schools and so your campaign to market to schools can be designed for the audience. However, if you are selling grounds maintenance to sports clubs, schools and motorway service stations for example, then you will need a different approach for the three markets. It may sound obvious, but too many companies get this wrong, and just assume that one advertising campaign fits all. Whilst this may be true within the private sector, when you market to schools, it is not. You need to tailor both your marketing and your product offering to schools or the teachers you intend to target.
The third and final consideration when you market to schools is that your product and your service are right for schools and that you have the facilities in place to provide the necessary support that a school will need. As we said at the beginning of this article, schools have large and protected budgets, so developing long term relationships is key and should be remembered when you market to schools. So, be sensible and be honest – market your product or service to schools in an open and honest manner and do not oversell yourself or your company, you want to slowly build up a portfolio of schools who buy from you, not make a quick buck and ruin your reputation.
Always remember when you market to schools that knowing your audience is the most important first step – it will save you time and money! Make sure your product is designed for the school, and make sure you market it well. Finally, think about the long game – slowly grow your portfolio and the rewards will be huge.
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