Schools have closed for the summer.
Graduations are over, the kids are in summer camps, and community programs are in full swing.
So just what are those school administrators up to during the summer?
If you are marketing educational products or services, you might be wondering whether you should you reach out to school and district leaders during the summer break or leave them alone until school starts.
Unlike teachers, administrators often have 12-month contracts. That means that even though school is out, they are still working. Most take time off for a week or two here and there, but they relish the quiet summer months as a great time for planning and preparing for the new school year.
Professional development is usually at the top of that list, along with looking for instructional materials and programs that will address their students’ needs.
It’s a good time to just breathe
Central office environments tend to be much more relaxed without the day-to-day stress of managing schools and keeping thousands of students actively engaged every day. Administrators’ schedules are more open, and longer lunch breaks allow time to get off campus or out of the office.
By now, principals and central office administrators have reviewed and evaluated the academic data that helps them decide which areas to focus on for the coming year. The fiscal year in many districts starts on July 1st and Title I plans and other federal grant applications are due at the end of summer, so budget planning is a priority.
If you want your products or services to be included in those budgets, it might be a good time to get your foot in the door. Even though the budget process starts in early summer, purchasing big ticket items might not actually take place until fall or even next year.
Summer Break - Introduce yourself
Summer is a great time to introduce your company and let educators know what you have to offer. Your marketing plans already include SEO strategies to guide prospects to your website. Once they meet you, use content marketing tools to inform and engage them with useful information.
If you have not already started building your content library, this is a good time to add some relevant pieces to your offerings. Send introductory emails with links to the resources educators may be interested in.
You could also consider knocking on doors and sitting down with administrators while they actually have the time to do it. Presenting or tabling at conferences is a good way to showcase your products and services. When that isn’t an option, try creating short webinars to educate prospects about how you can help them.
Fall Semester - Get to know each other
Once the new school year gets started, educators hit the ground running. Budgets are set for the year, but forward-thinking administrators are already planning for the next school year. If you have already introduced yourself, now is a good time to start nurturing your new relationships.
Use email to keep in touch and provide useful information about your products and services. Personalize your messages to tell your prospects you know who they are and understand their pain points.
Direct mail is worthwhile too – send brochures or giveaways. A lot of catalogs land in the trash, but all educators love to get free stuff, so with a small investment, you can keep your brand top of mind.
Spring Semester -Are we a good match?
By now your prospects have decided if they are interested in your products and services. They are considering whether you can provide the right solutions to help them reach their goals.
You need to keep the conversation going. Arrange in-person meetings or schedule a phone conference. Share case studies if you have them. It’s a good time to offer free demonstrations or materials for teachers to try out in the classroom, or to give central office staff a chance to use your solutions on a trial basis.
Encourage schools to try pilot programs - they can be an effective hook to get educators to try before they buy.
School leaders will want to know about product benefits and features, examples of success in other districts, cost, and ease of implementation. Be ready to provide all the answers.
Summer Break – Let’s take the plunge!
Once the hustle and bustle of the school year have calmed down again, administrators are ready to finalize their budgets for the coming school year. By now, you have built a strong relationship with the teachers, school leaders, or central office staff who are the decision makers.
Superior customer service will clinch the deal if you do it right. When your company is on the ball and prepared to help clients implement new programs every step of the way, your customers will be pleased to have a solution for their problems and delighted to do business with you.
Need some help writing case studies, emails, newsletters, or blogs to showcase your products and services? Let’s talk. It’s free.
Flo-kelvin Freelance – High-quality copywriting for educational marketing