How to start selling to schools on a budget
Selling to schools on a budget is easier than you think. Get in touch with our friendly team to get advice on marketing to schools in your area.04 April 2023
Expanding your customer base is crucial for the growth of any business. However reaching a new target market or starting out on a new business venture can be a daunting task, especially when operating on a tight budget. While it’s true that some level of investment is necessary for success, it doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank to attract new customers. In fact, with the right strategy and approach, you can effectively reach and engage with a new audience without going over budget.
In this article, we’ll explore practical tips and strategies for how to start selling to schools on a budget, while also highlighting the importance of some level of investment in your marketing efforts. Whether you are a small business owner or a startup entrepreneur, the insights shared here will help you take your business to the next level by generating leads and enquiries from schools without going over your set budget.
The importance of investing in training
When entering the UK education sector for sales and marketing, investing in training is critical to the success of your business. This is because the education market is unique, with its own set of cultural, economic, and social nuances that impact consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions. Without adequate training, you risk misunderstanding or misinterpreting the needs and preferences of schools, leading to ineffective marketing campaigns, poor sales performance and even brand reputation damage.
Effective training equips you and your sales and marketing teams with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the new market successfully. It can include everything from market research, customer profiling and competitor analysis to communication strategies, product positioning, and sales techniques tailored specifically to the education sector.
Marketing your business to schools on a budget requires a strategic approach that maximizes your resources while still reaching your target audience effectively. By investing in some early training you are then positioned to maximise the following suggestions of effective ways to market your business to schools on a budget:
Put your business out there as an education supplier
This may sound obvious, but if you are considering selling to schools then first and foremost you need to let them see you as an education supplier. Your first step is to add your business to the National Register of Education Suppliers hosted here at Incensu. Create a profile that outlines the product or service you have to offer and most importantly how your business provides a solution to a problem that schools may have.
By adding a profile for your business you can then start using the Incensu Registration Mark on your marketing to give confidence to schools when they are making their purchasing decisions. It also means that school leaders can find your business when they are searching for your products and services. This can be done for a very low cost to begin with or for a more significant presence and higher rankings in the search results there are a range of other options to suit your business and budget.
Implement email campaigns
Develop a targeted email marketing campaign that speaks directly to the needs and challenges of schools. Carefully manage your lists and campaigns and track their success by using either a basic spreadsheet for the tightest budgets or using email marketing software. Start small and niche when emailing schools so you can hone what works well.
Learning the best strategies for writing highly effective subject lines cannot be stressed enough alongside who specifically you should be targeting for your particular product or service. It’s very rarely effective to email thousands of headteachers without understanding the role of budget holders versus influencers, discovering the best times in the year to reach out for your specific type of business or knowing your competition (it’s unlikely to be who you think it is!).
Provide valuable content
Creating valuable content, such as blogs, vlogs, ebooks, or whitepapers, can help establish your business as an industry leader and build trust with potential school customers. It’s essential to consider the language you are using in your content to make this relevant in the education space. Don’t presume that content written for other audiences will land with the same impact for schools. Make it obvious you are speaking to them by using education keywords, mentioning the learning environment, discussing topical education sector challenges and referencing safeguarding. Share your content by tapping into well-established social media networks.
If you don’t have the expertise or confidence to write or record content yourself there are plenty of budget options without having to pay significant sums of money for a copywriter. With the expansion of artificial intelligence there are a number of platforms springing up that can be used free of charge or at a reasonable price to prepare some compelling content for you once you have an outline for the structure ready.
Leverage social media platforms
Schools often have a strong social media presence, so it’s important to develop a strategy for reaching them on these platforms. If you’re serious about marketing to schools, share relevant content, engage with their posts, and use targeted advertising to reach your audience where budget permits. Learn which platforms are favoured by school professionals and spend time exploring which hashtags, groups and communities are the most active. Follow established education organisations to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to the education sector.
Offer free trials or product demos
This is a really effective way to showcase your products and services to schools without large investment. It can help you build relationships and trust with potential customers. Start by reaching out to schools geographically local to your business so you can visit the school to meet the decision makers face to face without the travelling costs. Starting local gives you the opportunity to consider more personal ways of reaching out to individuals in schools, this can be through personal contacts or local networking groups.
Partner with other businesses
Marketing to schools becomes a lot easier when you partner with other businesses. This can help expand your reach and provide valuable referrals. A contra partnership with reciprocal benefits can save on marketing costs by having another business doing your marketing for you. For example, if your business provides hoodies and promotional clothing, a partnership with a school visits operator could prove extremely lucrative, or a playground equipment supplier partnering with a playground markings company and leaving a flyer behind with a recommendation.
Utilise search engine optimisation (SEO)
Optimising your website for search engines can be a cost-effective way to reach potential school customers. Use relevant education keywords in your metatags and content to improve your search engine rankings and increase your visibility to schools. While your business may currently be optimised for electrician, construction, IT, roofing or other service you provide it’s well worth remembering that schools are likely to search for school building, school roof repair, school computers etc. therefore a little effort on the SEO front with this is mind will pay dividends.
The key to implementing any of the suggestions for marketing to schools on a budget is to ensure that you’ve invested some time in understanding the sector so your efforts bring the desired return and you can hit the ground running when it comes to making a good impression with schools.
The UK education sector currently has an annual budget of £102.3 billion.
wealth of training videos and support to break into and effectively grow your business selling to schools, access the Education Marketing Hub in the Incensu Dashboard today.