October 18, 2013 / Fall 2013 / Marketing

Marketing and coverage improve yearbook sales

Written by Emily Gillette

After an unsuccessful year in 2012, the new yearbook class and I, the new adviser, faced many obstacles in 2013 in creating and selling our yearbook. In the previous year, only 41 yearbooks and two pages of business ads worth $225 had been sold.

The students – about 720 of them at Greensville County High School in Emporia, Va. – were not purchasing the yearbook. For that to change, we looked at the major obstacles we needed to overcome:

  • The yearbook was in the hole financially.
  • The book was an unorganized, mostly black-and-white book.
  • The book did not include the whole student body, but only a select group of students.
  • Students did not feel they had a voice in their yearbook.
  • A negative attitude toward the book existed due to previous year’s production.

The changes made last year started with a new yearbook publisher (Walsworth), a full-color book, and me, a biology teacher, as adviser leading the staff to implement many new tactics to increase sales and awareness and to change the attitude toward the yearbook.

Work began in earnest for the staff, which consisted of 20 students during first semester and seven in second semester. During the year we used these tactics, many of them ideas and resources from Walsworth in their Marketing Help section online:

  • Color – We changed to an all-color yearbook.
  • Student input – Students voted on the theme and the cover, and were able to give ideas, express concerns and turn in photos.
  • Awareness – We made signs to hang in the hallway, by each classroom clock and on the steps, plus made morning and afternoon announcements over the intercom.
  • Fundraisers – The staff organized fundraisers to bring awareness to the yearbook and help financially. Among the fundraisers was a Valentine’s Raffle from which we profited $200 selling raffle tickets for $1 each for a chance to win a manicure gift certificate, candy, a teddy bear, a candle and more. They sold glow products such as necklaces and sticks at the homecoming game, and snacks at games and after school.
  • Community involvement – We placed ads and pictures in the local newspaper and on the community website with yearbook sales information.
  • Presale pricing – We set prices so the yearbook was  
 less expensive earlier in the year.
  • Mailings and phone calls – We used the automated call system to remind parents to buy the yearbook before the prices went up and at holidays. We also mailed letters to parents who had not bought a yearbook.
  • Events – We set up a table and sold yearbooks at events in the community, such as a harvest festival, Peanut Parade and Holiday Bazaar and parade, and at school, such as the homecoming games, Senior Night, Academic Awards and athletic events.
  • Sponsorships – We mailed letters to churches and organizations and asked them to sponsor a student. These organizations were given the opportunity to sign the books and present them to students at the awards banquet.
  • Teacher Support – We asked teachers to sponsor students by buying a yearbook for a student in need or those who served as aides. Most teacher sponsors remained anonymous.
  • Inclusive coverage – We made a point to include every student enrolled at school.
  • T-shirts – The yearbook staff created and sold T-shirts to bring awareness and increase sales. Students who bought a T-shirt and wore it the day they purchased a yearbook received a discount. They also received discounts at sports events.
  • Yearbook Signing Party – Students who purchased a yearbook were invited to the yearbook signing party, where they were able to look at the yearbook first and sign with their friends. They loved the break from class, too!

It was a lot of work, but it resulted in:

  • 184 yearbooks sold, an increase of 450%
  • $2,500 in sales from senior and business ads, covering 13 pages
  • Student engagement with the yearbook
  • Community support and involvement
  • A full-color yearbook that felt alive to the staff
  • A yearbook budget that is in the black

All of the hard work paid off for the yearbook staff.  The outlook this year is positive, and this could not have been accomplished for the school without the dedicated staff, their marketing efforts, help from our sales rep Cozy Livas and Walsworth’s marketing support. So many students have eagerly signed up for the yearbook class that we now have requirements to be enrolled! 
Staff and students are optimistic that 2014 should be even more successful!

Emily Gillette

Emily Gillette is the yearbook adviser at Greensville County High School in Emporia, Va., where she also teaches biology. Gillette holds a Masters Degree in Education from Old Dominion University. She sponsors the Beta Club and is the coach for the Forensics and Academic teams at Greensville County, and is a member of the Leadership Team.