Marketing that Matters

Written by Meredith Beard

Our final day of school last year should have been an exciting day for our students at L’Anse Creuse Middle School–Central in Harrison Township, Mich. However, for more than 50 of them, disappointment clouded the day. While the rest of the building received their yearbooks, spent the day signing and looking back at the memories, many sat upset, with no yearbook in hand.

Few over-runs left no extras to be sold. I knew then I had to do something different this year with marketing.

The past two years I have taken the approach that advertising yearbook sales was mainly my job. I did the usual – sent parent emails, put out student announcements, did mailings. Aside from having students make posters, I was solely in charge of advertising.

Marketing mattersI was reminded at summer workshop that students can do the marketing work. With training and guidance, I needed to trust the students and let them take ownership of the book. After all, they know what sells and how to get kids’ attention. So I decided to make some changes and put the students in charge of selling and advertising the yearbook.

At the back-to-school event where students pick up schedules, I staffed the yearbook sales table with students instead of adults. In the past, I brought in parents of students to help because it involved taking money.

I was amazed at how many extra options parents bought as a result of hearing about them from kids. I heard students saying things like, “How nice would it be since it’s their last year in middle school to have their name stamped on the cover?” Or, “These icons are really cool, kids love to have the year they are graduating printed on the cover.” In addition, I realized that parents were less likely to tell the student sellers “no” and more willing to inquire about options their child might like.

A few months later, at parent-teacher conferences, we handed out cards with ordering information. If a parent didn’t want to purchase at school right then, they could take the card to order at home. Other than how to take orders, I gave no other instructions to my staff.

To my surprise, I found my students walking up to parents, asking if they had bought a yearbook and handing the cards to them. They circulated the school the entire time, handing out cards and encouraging people to purchase their yearbooks! Cards that were left over were then placed in the offices for parents to pick up when they signed their students in or out.

Our sales so far this year have tripled what they have been in the past. So let your staff take the lead with sales. Give them the power of deciding which marketing tools would be most useful, such as bookmarks, stickers, postcards or posters. They can do it, and you won’t regret it.

Meredith Beard