July 20, 2009 / Marketing

When everyone wants a yearbook

Written by Idea File Staff

In a perfect world, every student would buy a yearbook every year. They would just line up to pay for it.

There are a few schools like that. Seattle Preparatory School, a private Jesuit school in Seattle, Wash., is one of them. Students pay for their yearbook at the beginning of the school year when they pay their tuition and fees. Sure, this helps boost sales, but what would make almost 100 percent of the students buy a yearbook?

“When I started doing yearbook at Seattle Prep eight years ago, I really wanted to create a product that students would really want to have — something they could not imagine not having,” said the adviser, Michael Danielson.

First, the staff makes sure everyone’s picture is in the book. There are only 650 students at Seattle Prep, so the goal is attainable.

“That seems logical, but I am surprised how many schools don’t even have that as a goal,” Danielson said.

In Danielson’s second year as adviser, the yearbook had 100 percent of the senior class portrait shots.

“This meant a lot of calling, reminding and bugging parents — that is the key,” he said.

By the third year, 100 percent of the junior class was in the book and eventually the entire school was in, including faculty who had never had a mug shot in the book.

Secondly, Danielson decided his staffs had to make a great book.

“We use the Maestro model — so everyone is in charge of everything on their own pages. Therefore, we get very innovative layouts,” he said.

All new staff members also go to a Walsworth summer workshop, he added.

If someone does not order a book at the beginning of the year, traditional sales methods are used. Parents receive one reminder in the fall and a second one in the winter. Parents of students who still have not ordered receive a telephone call in the spring. They are told, “We are making our final orders soon, so this is your last chance. Don’t miss out.”

He said most parents will pay by then.

The staff always orders extras books for the last few students who decide they also want one on the day yearbooks are distributed. Danielson said about eight students bought one on distribution day this year.

Danielson said the administration at Seattle Prep is considering making yearbook an essential fee that everyone would pay along with books and locker fees. And for students with financial challenges, scholarship money is available to make sure they get one, too.

While it is easier for some, every school can do at least one of these suggestions offered by Danielson. Try to reach parents at every opportunity, such as when paying other fees at the beginning of the year, or at the annual “Open House” or “Meet the Teachers” night at school. Have your staff work to ensure everyone associated with the school is in the book. And have your staff strive each year to improve the book so that it becomes a “must have” every year. The work by your staff hopefully should increase your sales, but at the very least, your school will definitely have a much-improved yearbook students and faculty will appreciate.

  • Maria Mendoza

    What can you do in a low income community were students can care less about obtaining a yearbook? Students who are in the yearbook class are not being productive and its half way through the school year and you dont even have 1 fixed design, absolutely nothing to work with except for a few unfinished stories? Please HELP ME!!!

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.