Marketing That Takes Smarts
School is a time for growth, for expanding one’s horizons, learning to work with others and gaining knowledge. Often, it’s a complicated place, full of challenges and rules, but ultimately a rewarding experience that stays with you all your life. Not surprisingly, marketing to those responsible for school administration often is just as complex, but also rewarding for those marketers who take the time to learn about the needs and dynamics of this customer base.
Reading, Writing and Everything in Between
When looking at the kindergarten through 12th grade school market, there are more than 138,000 district-level administrators in the United States serving approximately 16,000 school districts across the nation, according to Bob Stimolo, president of School Market Research, a direct marketing agency that works with marketers catering to the school market. These districts have a broad range of needs, both in the way of educational materials, as well as the products and services that help sustain students, faculty and school facilities throughout the year.
This customer base responds to both B-to-B and B-to-C offers. Of course, instructional, educational and assessment materials are some of the more obvious products sought out by school administrators. Besides the traditional textbooks and school supplies, “there’s a real growth in digital formats,” notes Lisa Schmucki, chief marketing officer for list brokerage and management agency MKTG Education Services, which compiles and manages lists for the school and college markets. As well, with the introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002—which makes federal funding dependent on the average yearly progress of students in the districts—much more emphasis has been placed on assessment materials that help chart students’ progress.
To meet instructional and operational needs, schools also are likely to purchase computers and software, such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop, to name a few. “The push toward accountability has really created an enormous market for student information systems,” Schmucki adds. “Purchased at the district level, these are significant software installations that enable districts to track the progress of all their students.”