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Selling educational services to schools

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Stand Against Violence share their experience of selling educational services to schools - they tried a variety of marketing approaches before having success.

Background

Stand Against Violence (SAV) is a violence prevention charity, based in South West England, set up following the murder of 17 year old Lloyd Fouracre. We educate on the consequences of violence for individuals themselves and others in an attempt to change attitudes.
We believe very strongly that the development of a healthy and non-violent society must start from a young age and that work like ours is essential for future generations to have a rounded view.

The issues we faced

As a charity focusing on the prevention of violence through the education of young people, accessing schools is a key area of our work. It is also an area that is a constant struggle.

We need to sell our workshops to each school and our success depends very much on luck and networking. If a school has an enthusiastic and supportive Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) coordinator these individuals can really push forward and be the gatekeepers for the school.

However PSHE is an issue in itself. PSHE is non-compulsory and many teachers are assigned the role with no training or experience. This approach often leads to having PSHE leads who are not committed or understanding of their role.

As the subject is non-compulsory it also presents the problem of inconsistent allocation of funding and in some cases funding too limited to bring in external organisations such as ours to help.

The actions we took

In an effort to sell our workshops to schools in the South West region we tried a variety of approaches. This included cold calling, email marketing, attempting to set up face to face meetings, writing letters and sending free gifts.

Another approach we took was introducing a free one hour workshop to all new schools as a way of gaining a foot in the door to prove our value.

We also worked with two different schools marketing agencies in order to take advantage of the up to date lists of direct school contacts and campaigning know-how which these companies often have.

The first schools marketing agency was based in London and the second was a South West based agency called Sprint Education.

Positive outcomes

One of the strategies we tried with Sprint Education, the South West based marketing agency, was a three email campaign. We tried the email campaign after several failed marketing strategies and their approach was much more ‘friendly’ and personable. To our delight this worked very well. We doubled our bookings and have continued to do so each year we have marketed with them since.

Overall, we have effectively changed attitudes towards violence through our work, demonstrated by our recent evaluation with the Centre for Public Health, and we have also seen improvements in pupil behaviour and reductions in bullying.

Negative outcomes

When approaching schools finding the right contact is often a challenge, getting past the receptionists can stop this in its tracks.

When working with the London based marketing company we found that they didn’t fully understand our target market of South West based schools. London works very differently to the South West, often what may take off and pick up great speed there will not make it beyond the boundary to areas such as the South West. We had no success or responses at all from this approach.

Lessons learnt

There is no easy answer to selling to schools but in our experience we found two key things.

• Using a local/regional company who understand the client demographic, have direct and up to date contacts and a successful marketing strategy was key in breaking through some of the barriers. The alternative such as networking with every school lead, breaking in to the academy consortiums and the teaching alliances is something that is so immensely time consuming it fills me with dread.

• For those who are unable to invest in a marketing company, I recommend a personable, email based approach. Offer them something free and brand it up. Send an email campaign and not a one off, make the approach simple and engaging and never give up!

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Page last edited Oct 27, 2017

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