Make them want it
Written by David Roth
Tips for Developing and Marketing a Yearbook People Will Buy
If you have trouble selling as many yearbooks as you would like, you are not alone. Many schools and their hard-working yearbook staffs experience the frustration of low book sales.
For some schools, it may be that plenty of seniors buy the yearbook, but sales drop off significantly when it comes to underclassmen. For others, it may be that sales are low all around, because enthusiasm and awareness about the yearbook are not as high as they should be. Even if your school’s book sales are pretty good, there are always ways to make them better.
Below are a few tips to help generate more student body interest and ownership in the yearbook.
Your Dream Book
Do not be afraid to aim high with this year’s book. Make a wish list of all the great bells and whistles you would like to have in the book, even if you do not think it will be affordable.
Giving staff members ownership of what they would like to see in the book can go a long way toward achieving those goals. Let’s say the sports editor would like a color spread or two this year, instead of telling them “No, we can’t afford that,” instead figure out what the cost would be and what that person can do to achieve it. For example, “that would cost x amount of dollars, so if you can sell three extra full-page ads, the color spread is yours.”
For the People, By the People
Perhaps one reason students are not snapping up the yearbook is they are underrepresented, or think they are underrepresented. Below are some tips for including as many students as possible.
Place “What Do You Think?” forms in high visibility areas of the school (or hand them out in person) with questions that allow students can give their opinions on various topics of interest, for example “What do you think about the new gymnasium?” “What is your favorite fast food?” “Where do you like to shop?” Include student’s quotes with their name and grade (and possibly their photo) throughout the book.
There is an additional advantage to featuring fast food restaurants and local shopping venues in the yearbook, it brings the community into the book, and you can point out this coverage to local business when it’s time to sell ads.
If underclassmen feel a lack of inclusion in the yearbook, consider doing a special spread dedicated to freshmen and their perspectives on various school-related topics, like academics, sporting events, dances, etc.
do a special fold-out after the portrait pages, featuring a large class photo in front of the school. By doing this, you have at least doubled the amount of times those student’s picture appears in the yearbook.
Tell Them About It
Now that you have found ways to include more students in the book, be sure they know they are being featured.
Hand out small cards or notices that let each student who has a picture or comment featured in the yearbook know about it.
Another great way to increase visibility of the yearbook, let students know they are in it, and even add a little competitive edge is to keep a running index of students and which pages they appear on, and post it in a highly visible place in the hallways or lunch room. Make a big, colorful sign directing people to check out “Who’s in the Book” this week.
You might also place a drop-box in this area, with a notice encouraging students to submit great pictures of themselves and their friends taken around school or at school events.
Also, do not forget about Mom and Dad. Send a “Don’t miss these memories” letter to the parents of any students who did not yet order a book, letting them know which pages their son or daughter appears on, and urging them to order a yearbook.
Show Off A Little
Get people buzzing about the book by doing a “preview book.” A preview book is merely a soft-cover 16-page signature (stapled or bound and cut into booklet form) that gives a sampling of what the upcoming book will look like. You can choose the most colorful or exciting pages to get students interested in buying the whole book.
These extra signatures are merely overruns of signatures you are paying to have printed anyway, and probably will not be very expensive to produce. They can be given to students and sent home to parents as well.
A Little Marketing Psychology
Most schools have a set price for the yearbook, but sell it for less earlier in the year, and more later in the year. Parents and students may perceive this as being penalized for buying the book later, because it seems to them the price has gone up.
Try marketing the book this way: let everyone know the “retail” or “list” price of the book, which would be the maximum price that you would be charging at the end of the year, upfront (let’s say $70.), but let them in on “early bird” specials or sales.
For example, “Yearbooks are $70., but during our fall sale, all orders placed before Nov. 1 will receive a 15% discount!”
You may also utilize special events, like parents’ night, to promote book sales, giving special discounts to anyone who orders a book that night.
People are less apt to feel bad if they have simply missed a sale, as opposed to feeling as if they have had the price “upped” on them later in the year.
Remember, the yearbook is about the entire school, not just the seniors or the athletes or the people on yearbook staff. The more you make it something everyone can feel a part of, the more books you will sell!