You have great products and services, but without access to your key audience, the outcome is likely to be doomed. Managing your marketing to one of the busiest professions also takes skill, patience, and levels of engagement that need careful management. So, what are the key elements in getting your message out to educators, and how can businesses manage this responsibly?
- Beware the firewall – Each school has one. Nothing gets beyond the firewall without their approval and their power should not be dismissed. We are not talking about computer firewalls, we are talking about the school office staff. They manage and route phone-calls, mailings and visits to the school, so getting on the right side of these people is critical. Our tip? Be polite, respectful and grateful for their help.
- E-Mails – Yes, you can buy/obtain lists of most school contact points, including e-mail addresses, but be realistic. Your e-mail is likely to be deleted instantly, or end up in the Junk folder. School staff receive hundreds of e-mails each week, so the chances of them opening up (and engaging with) your promotion is pretty poor. Our tip? Forget it!
- Phone calls – We refer back to our first point. We are astounded how many companies try to speak to school staff during teaching time. If a relationship has been established, make a telephone appointment, so that the staff member is more likely to be available and ready for your call. Leaving a message? Keep it brief. Our tip? Unless you have managed to make a phone appointment, forget it!
- Hijack a teachmeet – Oh my goodness, as a teacher, presentations made by people selling products at a teachmeet is a huge turn-off. You are more likely to turn people away from your product – no matter how good it is – and this can be a disaster for your business / product. Our tip? Talk about real-life situations / classroom experiences. Don’t even mention the product. If people can resonate with the issue that is being spoken about, then they are more likely to talk to you.
There are a lot of “no-no’s” above, so what is the answer? How can businesses get their message out to schools and teachers? Here are some ideas that have proven popular with teachers and companies alike:
- Make it personal – People buy from people. It’s no good hiding behind a logo, company name, or product about his. If people like and trust you, then they will like and trust your message. Build up your own networks, away from your business, and keep it professional, respectful and engaging. Put in real life experiences; put in real life scenarios; and, seek conversations. Ask for help. Give your help and offer your support (in a non-commercial way), to slowly build up the relationship. Don’t sell. People will become aware of your product, and they will buy from you when they need the product.
- Utilise ideas from professionals – Seeking advice and support from professionals, who have build success communities, can give a guidance in how to build and maintain meaningful relationships.
- Think long term – Many people rush onto social media thinking that it’s a quick fix. You may hear people saying, “Let’s follow loads of people” or, “let’s buy loads of followers to make us look popular”, but this is fundamentally flawed. It is better to patiently grow meaningful communities rather than a bunch of false eggs, or accounts which have been set up by companies who are after earning a quick buck. You are more likely to gain respect and a positive relationship if you engage with your communities, and there’s no point in shouting to lots of egg accounts.