5 golden rules for selling to schools

Selling to anyone is tough. Selling to schools is tougher. Teachers and school leaders have limited time and stretched budgets, so getting through to the right person at the right time and getting a 'yes' requires extra legwork. But here's the good news – if you've got something to offer that will help schools in their mission to improve outcomes for pupils, they will want to hear from you. It's just about getting your timing and messaging right.

In this blog post, we outline five golden rules for reaching teachers and school leaders on their terms.

Does your marketing and sales strategy follow the golden rules? The team here at ESM Inbound has years of teaching and leadership experience so we really do know what resonates with teachers, and what doesn't.

1 Always be helping

"Always be closing is dead. Always be helping instead."

Dan Tyre, HubSpot

This mantra is at the heart of the inbound methodology. Inbound is about putting the buyer at the centre of your marketing and sales strategy instead of the salesperson. Take the time to understand your ideal customers, and, as your prospects move through the four stages of the buyers' journey, offer resources, support and guidance to help them solve the problems they face.

Teachers are the perfect fit for the inbound approach, because it mirrors their own work ethic. They went into teaching to make a difference to young people's lives because they wanted to help. Show the same principles in your approach to selling to teachers and school leaders, and they will be much more open to your message.

2 Be flexible

The world of marketing changes quickly. The education sector has gone through a series of rapid changes in recent years. Educational suppliers and edtech companies that stick to the same edu-marketing playbook which worked a couple of years ago will find themselves playing catch up in 2018.

Keep on top of changes to best practice and always look for what genuinely leads to great results. For example, has your business tried:

  • using pillar content pages?
  • qualifying leads with a chat bot?
  • replacing email capture forms with Facebook Messenger CTAs?
  • creating a referral marketing system?

Always be trying something new and then monitor the data to see the impact. Double down on what works and reduce your commitment to less-effective practices.

3 Don't slack off in the holidays

Many marketers make this mistake when selling to schools but close down over the holidays and you are missing out on a key opportunity. This is the period when teachers and school leaders will have the most time on their hands!

During term time, teachers are incredibly time poor. They may come across dozens of great ideas that they'd like to learn more about but they'll make a mental note to revisit them at a less-frantic time.

Make sure you continue to publish blog posts, social media and PPC adverts during the summer holidays. It's not unusual for us to notice an increase in engagement metrics and lead generation once teachers find themselves with a little more time for themselves.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the device teachers view your resources on is likely to be different during the holiday period. Expect to see an increase in conversions on smartphones, so be sure your content is optimised for mobile devices.

4 Don't send paper

Thinking of doing a big mail out of flyers or brochures to schools in time for September? Stop! We know from years of experience working in schools that most flyers, brochures and leaflets go straight from the pigeon hole to the recycling bin. The lucky few that make it to the decision-maker's desk will likely sit there in a pile for a few weeks before also being consigned to the recycling.

If you're going to invest in creating marketing materials for this September, make them digital. Not only will you save a fortune on printing and mailing costs, you're more likely to reach the right people, and your content will stay evergreen.

Printing can be costly especially if you want to create a good impression of the high quality of your product. Why not spend this money on commissioning a top-notch digital designer instead? Then use the budget you would have spent on postage and reinvest it in pay per click advertising.

Harry Picken, ESM Inbound's PPC Strategist, says:

PPC allows you to precisely target the people who matter most. From the gatekeepers to the influencers and decision makers, PPC gives you the ability to deliver a value-for-money, tailored message with measurable results instead of a one-size-fits-all flyer that's hard to prove ROI.

If you still feel you need printed materials for sending to buyers in the decision stage, for taking along to trade shows or face-to-face meetings with schools, you can always create PDF versions of your digital content later just make sure you keep the high resolution versions of the image files to ensure your printed document looks just as good as the original online version.

5 Don't email a cold list

In a post-GDPR world, this one might seem obvious. Teachers and school leaders don't want to receive emails from people they haven't heard of. It's a violation of the trust they expect of the suppliers they work with.

Sure, there are plenty of ways you might approach emailing a cold list (perhaps claiming it as 'legitimate interest') but think about it from the recipient's perspective after all, inbound is all about selling the way your audience wants to buy. If you're responsible for children and a company contacts you but you've never heard from them, how can you trust them to keep pupil data safe and secure?

Start your relationship on the right foot by focusing on building your own contact list of teachers and school leaders who have actively chosen to hear from you. How? Provide high-quality resources that are so genuinely useful to your audience that they'll gladly offer their details in exchange.

What's working in your edu-marketing strategy?

Are you ready to discover what is and isn't working in your edu-marketing strategy? What if you had real-time data, weekly reports and a monthly consultation call with an expert? Insights from ESM Inbound offers exactly that  ongoing consultation and coaching with an edu-marketing expert, who also happens to hold Qualified Teacher Status.

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