Market Focus - Marketing to Teachers (1,084 words)
By Donna Loyle
They're highly educated, have above-average household incomes, and their ranks are filled mostly with women. Sounds like a marketer's dream demographic, doesn't it?
In 2000, there were about 4 million elementary and secondary school teachers and college faculty members in the United States, and another 4.4 million school administrators, school librarians, guidance counselors, support staffers and others involved in education, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).
Moreover, NCES estimates another 2.2 million teachers will be needed in the next decade to handle enrollment growth and replace teachers leaving or retiring from the profession.
Such statistics have led many marketers to target educators as both business-to-business (b-to-b) buyers and as consumers. Here's how to determine who buys what in this field, when they buy and how to prospect within the market.
Determining who buys what in the education field requires some homework. Textbook adoptions, for example, usually are district- or state-wide decisions, according to Forrest Stone, executive editor in chief of EducationWorld.com, a Web site for educators. "The textbook publishing houses, such as Scholastic and Harcourt Brace, have high-level salespeople who meet with district or state purchasing committees to pitch their textbooks. It's a huge-stakes game."
However, many teachers themselves are budgeted some funds—on average $437 per teacher per year, according to surveys—to spend on low-priced supplemental classroom supplies such as paperback books for students, workbooks, construction paper, novelty pencils or the occasional apple pie for those math educators who want to teach fractions using real-life, not textbook, pies. Such purchases are called district-allocated, teacher-directed funds, says Stone.
How They Buy
"Direct mail remains both very effective and in many ways the preferred method for educators to receive product information," says Michael Subrizi, marketing director of list brokerage Market Data Retrieval (MDR), a Dun & Bradstreet division that specializes in the education market. "In particular, main school purchasing contacts, such as media specialists, librarians, department chairs, principals, etc., tell us they like to get catalogs they can file away and refer back to as needed," he says.