The 3 Best Ways to Promote Your School-based Enterprise

Photo courtesy of @greenandwhiteco on Twitter.

At Spirit Factory, we help School-based Enterprises with marketing, operations and best practices. When we first speak with a group of DECA members who run their school store, there are some key questions we ask to gauge how their business is going.

  • Who is your target market and how are you communicating with them?
  • What is your product mix and price points?

After speaking with many SBE teams, across the country, we have found some key ways to promote your SBE.

Target Market and Positioning

Before identifying the promotions you want to implement, it is important to first identify who your target market is and what you want to communicate to them (positioning). Most SBEs have very similar target markets such as students, parents and faculty/staff, but we can break it down even further.

For example, instead of “students”, what if we segmented students by class (freshman, seniors, etc.) or by interest (musicians, athletes, journalists)? We can speak more directly to a target market the more we narrow the target market down. Instead of, “Buy a T-shirt at the school store,” it might be more effective to have posters in the freshman hallway stating, “Welcome to X High School! Be sure to fit in by wearing X High gear. We are here to help you select the right merchandise at the school store!”

We refer to messaging (wording of your slogans, campaigns etc.) as “positioning,” in other words, how are you positioning your services/products in the mind of the prospective customer? Speaking to people’s emotions is very important – people buy emotionally.

The Rule of 3

In today’s world, we are competing with endless amounts of stimulus to gain mind-share from our target markets. This is why it is important to understand “The Rule of 3.” Basically, we have to get our message to our target market at least three times before they retain the message.

There are thousands of ways to get your message to your target market, but we’ve seen SBEs across the country have success with the following tactics:

  1. Social Media Tactics

Using Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, you can blast out time sensitive coupons and have each person who comes to redeem the coupon share that coupon on a social media platform before they can use the coupon. Another impactful tactic that can be used is creating a Snapchat geofilter. You can create one of these on a very limited budget, but they have a huge reach. You can set them up during a sporting event, or any other event going on at your school and let students/parents know that if they take a snapchat with your geofilter, they will receive a discount, or something along those lines.

Check out this article that explains to you step-by-step how to create your first geofilter.

  1. Traditional Marketing Tactics

Mailings, emails and handing out fliers at events can be a very effective way of communicating to parents and faculty/staff which are two demographics that often get over-looked. Even if parents are interested in school spirit wear for themselves, they are often providing the funds for their students to purchase, so be sure to communicate with them.

Mailings can be expensive, but if you can slip an insert in with a mailing already scheduled to be sent out by the school or district, that is a great way to save a few dollars while still getting your message out there.

Emails are free and very effective. Why not check to see if your school has an email database that you could send messaging to once or twice throughout the school year?

When it comes to fliers, your best bet is to go to the where the parents are, and give them something to take back home with them. Usually events are chaotic, so just a table or booth might not be enough. Give them something they can read once they get back home, and include a compelling call to action (maybe a coupon that expires in 30 days).

  1. Guerilla Style Marketing

Catch your target markets by surprise, by implementing guerilla marketing tactics! Do things out of the ordinary that people will talk about (be sure to get admin approval when needed). Here are a couple ideas we’ve been made aware of:

  • Place school store fliers on car windshields in the shape of parking tickets. This will certainly get people’s attention.
  • Hang posters in the hallway upside down. People won’t be able to help but stop and turn their heads to read the messaging.
  • Flash fashion show during lunch. Simply surprise the student body with a random 10 minute fashion show during lunch, showing off all the merchandise you have available in the school store.

Using this three-pronged strategy, you can ensure that you are hitting extremely important pieces that drive the awareness of your SBE.

Feel free to share your favorite ways to promote your SBE with us and let us know what is working and what might not be working!

Spirit-Factory-Logo-EPSEmail-SigThis article was written by Spirit Factory, a DECA National Advisory Board partner and Corporate Social Media Correspondent. Learn more about Spirit Factory and how it can help your DECA chapter here.


Categories: Chapter Development, Chapter Resources, Chapter Resources (Home Page Teaser), Comprehensive Learning Program, School-based Enterprises