As you gear up for your busy season, you may think summer should be your only focus right now. However, you can get a jump on marketing for the coming year by doing this one thing NOW:
Contact schools near you to learn about existing marketing opportunities for the 2017-2018 school year.
School may be almost out for summer, but many opportunities for next year are being decided on between now and the end of the school year. That’s why it’s imperative to act now to learn what’s available, who to contact, and–most importantly–deadlines.
67% of parents who responded to our most recent survey say they hear about the activities they choose for their kids from their kids and through the school, so this is where it’s at for youth programs like yours.
Types of Opportunities to Look For
- Ads – Imagine your ad popping up when a middle-school mom checks her child’s grades on the school web portal, when she reads the e-newsletter, scans the football program, or looks for her kid’s name on the playbill at the school play.
- Be a school assembly guest – Administrators can give you schedules and guidelines for planning an interesting activity to a captive audience next year. This could get kids talking to Mom or Dad about your program – and bringing home a flyer! Note: Assembly presentations/demos are usually approved near the end of the previous school year, and require a pitch on your planned activity.
- Sponsor team jerseys or t-shirts – Get your camp’s logo on apparel that will be seen every time children wear them. (Or when mom folds her kid’s clothes in the laundry!)
- Donate a silent auction giveaway for school fairs and fundraisers – Put together a basket of goodies or gear even marginally related to your program, including a coupon for discounted enrollment or one free class. The most likely bidders will be parents or kids interested in your program type.
- Partner with the English department to provide a demo or activity related to a book on the reading list that is relevant to your program type in some way. Teachers are always looking for ways to make stories come alive.
- Plan a mini-program – Schools often look for activities to offer students during Parent-Teacher Conferences or teacher development days when kids have to be out of school. Kids can try out a new sport or skill for free or a minimal fee while Mom and Dad meet with the teacher/remain at work.
- Plan an after-school program – After-school care is often supplemented by activities sponsored by outside organizations that provide both the program and assistance with the supervision of kids. For example, Beach Club connects churches in seven states with local elementary schools to provide a once-a-week Bible club with volunteers, curriculum, and snacks. Girls on the Run helps girls 3rd-8th grade with self-confidence through training for a 5K.
Download our free whitepaper, Community Partnerships in Action, to learn more ways to get your program in front of new audiences.
3 Must-Do-Now Steps
1. Ask the school district for the contacts who can put you in touch with different opportunities for community programs.
Find out who helps community organizations like yours place advertisements, schedule events, participate in assembly presentations or demonstrations, provide backpack flyers for afterschool or teacher in-service activities, and engage in other sponsorship opportunities. You may be directed to district employees, parent committee/booster club leaders or specific websites.
Ask: “Are there any other marketing opportunities I haven’t mentioned?” (and the names and contact information of those in charge.) Don’t be afraid to ask who you would talk to about a new idea, not currently in practice with the school.
2. Make the call(s).
After identifying the opportunities that interest you, you may be able to gather the contact information you need from websites. You can, of course, email for more information, but a call may enable you to get all your questions answered in one sitting. The main thing you’re in search of is deadlines for submitting ad copy, applying for assembly or after school care demo requests, or arranging sponsorships. To save time, go ahead and collect other data, such as pricing, if you think you might be even a little bit interested in a specific opportunity.
3. Act, or schedule later action.
Prioritize the opportunities based on their deadlines and optimal benefit. You’ll immediately see some you can eliminate because of your schedule, the price, the required effort, or qualifications your program doesn’t meet.
Mark your calendar with the deadlines for the opportunities you are interested in. If they fall at the height of your busy season, can you meet the deadline? Knowing about it in advance may make it possible to shift a few priorities or delegate tasks. In most cases, you may be able to put off planning the actual preparation until closer to the date of the opportunity, months away.
If you love an idea but absolutely can’t fit it in by the deadline this year, put it on your calendar for the first of next year and make time for it before your season revs up.
Download our guide to learn more about not only school opportunities but also other types of partnerships to put you in front of more prospects. By spending a few hours on school marketing and advertising plans this spring, you can be ahead of the game, come fall.