March 6, 2013 / Ask Mike / Coverage / Marketing / Spring 2013

Let your yearbook sell itself

Written by Mike Taylor, CJE

Awesome photography — Check.
Phenomenal coverage — Check.
Outstanding design and writing — Check.
Great cover — Check.

Your yearbook has everything a staff could ask for — except sales. So now it is time to panic, call your yearbook sales representative and order some customized posters.

Stop!  Wait!  You have a great marketing program right in front of you. Remember that great cover, phenomenal coverage  and awesome photography? Use your book to market and sell more books!

Let’s look at each of these parts of the yearbook and see how you can use your yearbook to sell more yearbooks.

You have amazing photos. Many of those great photos are probably not going to make the yearbook, so use them to help sell books.

  • Make weekly videos for the daily announcements. Each Friday, use the weekly photos taken, place them into a simple slide program and add music, and you have a great music video.  Add a graphic at the end to tell buyers where and when to buy a yearbook.

    photo examples

    Photos (left to right): Kansas City Christian School, Prairie Village, Kan.; Lewis and Clark High School, Spokane, Wash.; Stephen Decatur High School, Berlin, Md.; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.; Lake Brantley High School, Altamonte Springs, Fla.

  • Once the video is played, post it to YouTube and save it for an end-of-the-year video.
  • Print the pictures and use them on a bulletin board in the hall outside the yearbook classroom. Make sure you let students know how and when they can purchase the book.
  • Photographers should hand out a flier or card when they are shooting to remind buyers they were photographed and could be in the yearbook.

The coverage you and the staff have created is phenomenal. Every student is covered at least three times, but do they know this?

  • Get a list of every student in the school. Post it in a visible place in the yearbook classroom. After each spread is complete, use a highlighter to mark those covered. Once they appear a second time, highlight them with a different color. Give them a third color for a third appearance in the book.
  • Now, assign a student to write notes on Post-it® note paper that tells each student featured that they are in the book, the page and purchase information. Place the sticky note on each featured student’s locker or car window. Or, create a wall outside the yearbook classroom that showcases all the Post-it® notes.
  • After each deadline, run the index and post it outside the classroom. Spread the word, and students will flock to the wall to see how many times they appear. And yes, have purchase information posted as well.

    spread examples

    Spreads (left to right): Spinnaker, Laney High School, Wilmington, N.C.; The Tower, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Calif.; Crosswinds, Curtis High School, Staten Island, N.Y.

You have great yearbook spreads that really show off the staff’s hard work in design and writing. Use the spreads to help buyers get excited about the book.

  • Tweet about certain spreads to get the student body excited about the book. Again, make sure you include information on how and when to buy.
  • Place spreads on the yearbook staff’s Facebook page, the school website or email the students involved on each spread.
  • Create a Look Wall outside of the yearbook classroom. Spread the word in the announcements or on Facebook or Twitter so students will gather to see your work and to see if they are on the spreads. Have purchase information posted.
  • Take your best spread of the month and place it in the office where parents can see it. Create a kiosk and have purchase information available. Parents will be grateful.
Sherwood HS-C

Leaves, Sherwood High School, Sandy Spring, Md.

OK, now to the most important marketing piece you have — the cover.

  • Do not keep your cover a secret. Place it on the school website, with all purchase information attached.
  • Use the color, font and even spin-off phrases of your theme as a message for the year.
  • Have staffers create T-shirts in the theme colors with the theme phrase. Wear them weekly during sales periods.
  • Post an image of the cover on your Facebook and Twitter pages so everyone can see it.
  • Create a giant yearbook out of a refrigerator box and have a staff member pass out purchase information at games and assemblies.
  • Showcase the cover at every sporting event. Create a flier with your cover prominently displayed and purchase information included.

Using the yearbook is the best way to promote how awesome your book is.  The more the student body is aware how cool the yearbook is, the more exposure you will have, leading your sales to skyrocket.

  • Vickie

    Thank you for the ideas. Simple and obvious to highlight names as we use them in the book. As a new editor it’s nice to see these easy, useable ideas.

Mike Taylor, CJE
Mike Taylor, CJE

Mike Taylor, CJE, sees things differently, and as a journalism specialist for Walsworth, he uses that creative edge to help yearbook staffs across the country put together the yearbook they dream about. A former award-winning yearbook adviser, Mike has been awarded the JEA Medal of Merit, CSPA Gold Key and Florida Scholastic Press Association Gold Medallion. Follow Mike on Pinterest at taylormjc.