The first rule of successful marketing to schools is having a product that teachers want at a price that they are willing to pay
The headline above means that the first question we all have to ask is, “do I have a product or service that teachers want at a price they are willing to pay?”
Obviously if you are successfully selling into schools then yes you do. For example, if you are successfully selling via trade shows but can’t sell via an email campaign, the issue is not with the product but with the way the emails are written and/or the list you are using. The marketing has been done – you are now down to the advertising.
But if nothing brings in the sales, does that mean the product or service can’t sell? Does that that mean it is time to give up?
The answer is very strongly, no. The issue is to find out a little more about the attitude of teachers to the area that your product or service deals with. Then you change your marketing and advertising to start from their current views and to build from that point outwards.
Quite how this happens is different in each case but invariably it involves:
- Finding out what teachers think about the issue that your product or service deals with through a very simple questionnaire
- Thinking of some sort of change that can be made to an offer in order to make it fit with what the teachers want.
- Looking to see what other firms are doing, and ensuring that your advertising really singles yourself out from the rest.
Now that plan may seem incredibly simple, and yet it is something that a large number of firms never do. Some argue that all research is useless because research can be used to prove anything. Others say it doesn’t apply in their case. Some say they tried it, and they couldn’t get the teachers to answer.
And yet Hamilton House carries out this sort of research week after week and through that research we transform the sales of our retail companies and those of our clients.
Let’s imagine that you are selling a programme relating to improving the behaviour of children in school. And we’ll add a detail – that your programme focusses on being a whole-school programme, through which all teachers should join together to administer the programme uniformly.
Now we are assuming that you have been advertising, and the programme just won’t sell. I’ll quickly go through what we would do.
First we set up a very simple questionnaire where we might ask questions like:
- Does your school have a written behavioural programme?
- Do all members of staff follow the same procedures?
If the answer is no, we’ll ask what sort of arrangements they do have, but if yes we would go on to ask:
3. Do you feel everyone follows it?
If the answer to that is “no” we’d be asking why not. If yes we would ask questions about whether the teacher feels it is working and if there are any areas that could be improved.
Now we are getting into the interesting questions – because the chances are that this product is mostly going to sell to schools that dont have a unified behavioural policy.
If they do have such a policy they might still be customers if the policy isn’t delivering. If they don’t have such a policy you can’t assume that you can simply announce your programme. You will need to know why not.
Now one possibity is that they feel that teachers are very independent and would never sign up to being told how to run such a policy. Another is that might feel that a unifieid policy is not a good thing. A third is that they might say that they’ve tried such a policy and it failed.
These answers – it won’t work here, it isnt a good thing to have, and we’ve tried it and it failed, are the regular blockages that we can all find to a sale. We just need to know which one applies.
Once you know that, for example, 90% of schools have a unified policy but over half of them have reservations or problems with it because many teachers don’t stick by it, then you know how to write your adverts.
If you find that only 20% have a unifieid policy with the rest believing that they don’t work, you know to write your adverts in a totally different way.
Thus you have a new approach. And you still have the issues of thinking of some sort of change that can be made to an offer in order to make it fit with what the teachers want and the issue of seeing what other firms are doing.
In my experience the overwhelming majority of campaigns that fail, fail because this basic research was not done.
Hamiton House undertakes this type of research for many of its Velocity clients as part of the Velocity programme. But of course there are also many companies who do their own research as a one-off with Hamilton House, using our experience and email lists to help them create research that will bring in the answer to their marketing issue.
If you would like to know more please call 01536 399 000 or else email Chris@hamilton-house.com with details of what you are selling.
Details of the Velocity programme overall are on www.velocity.ac