You do not need to register to FIND





Best Way to Sell To Schools

Best Way to Sell To Schools

Best way to sell to Schools


The Labor Day Weekend is here and we all know what that means.

Yes, it’s the traditional end of the summer. But most importantly we have to, once again,  become focused on our customers as they are going back to school.  This season, like no other, allows us to start with a clean marketing slate, a new vision, and determination to get our product/service in front of the schools, educators, and parents.

After nearly a decade and thousands of hours of trying to attract schools to my awesome tech program, I learned more than a few hard education marketing lessons I would like to share with you.


Most of you have tried the old school methods listed below that were difficult in the 90’s and 00’s and are nearly futile in today’s educational business environment. I think the term experts like to use for this is “ Outbound Marketing “  

  • The dreaded phone “Cold Call”.   In the old days, once you mustered enough nerve, you got to talk to the secretary. She would politely tell you that the principal/teacher you asked for would get the message sometime in the next year or two. A call back was as rare as a blue moon.  Nowadays, you just leave your info with the digital gatekeeper and it goes into that proverbial, cold and dark cyberspace.
  •  Let’s give ” Mailing ” our brochure a shot.  Okay. so now you’ve given up calling all those phone numbers and decided that your brochure is so much better than all of the other hundreds of companies.  That secretary is going to make sure it ends up in the inbox of your chosen educator. You know, she really values those design, printing and mailing costs you incurred creating your marketing masterpiece.  

If you were lucky enough to end up in an inbox instead of the garbage basket, how many calls did you get from the hundreds of brochures you mailed out?   If you were like most, not many if any at all. Nowadays, we are all concerned about the environment so you may get a bad rap for polluting the environment before your brochure ends up in the recycling bin.

  •  Let’s ” Knock on some Doors”. They will love me in person.   Yes, the old school, die-hard sales method of getting all spiffed up…. driving an hour to the school …..hoping for a minute of someone’s time ……so you can pitch your story… long gone.  I”m getting tired just thinking about those wasted days, weeks, months.

Well, the good news is today, there are security doors, automated keycard locks and cameras keeping you from entering the school.

  •  Email has been around for a long time now.   Are you old enough to remember the joy you felt when someone took the time to send you an email in the 90’s? You felt very special and you read every word with focused attention. It was like someone wrote you a letter, but you didn’t have to wait for the mailman to deliver it to your door.

Today, of the hundreds of emails you receive daily, a few will get the cursory scan to see if there is anything of importance there.   Now, an administrator or educator will have the school board IT department ensure that your email will likely end up in a Spam folder buried somewhere in their servers.  If you are lucky enough to bypass the ” spam police “, you will end up joining the other 2,367 emails in the Inbox of your intended recipient. We won’t talk about the legality of marketing yourself through email either.

  •  I know …… I can get my name out there by advertising in the education system’s print magazines.   Great idea if you have very, very, deep pockets …….not. I once saved and saved a huge bundle of dollars so I could afford to put a 2″ x 4″ ad buried in the back of a magazine for educators.   Thousands of dollars later, not one call. Not one email. Just a receipt, that my accountant gave me a lecture on. How not to waste the precious few profit dollars on print media.


Today, although the magazines are available in digital/online editions, it’s even more expensive to market yourself in these publications.  I once took a survey of teachers I met in schools to see how many of them read their union’s and other educational magazines.  Most of them don’t have enough time to mark their students’ tests, let alone read online magazines.   Yes, they are buried somewhere in their 2,367 emails in the Inbox.


Okay, enough nostalgia.  I’ve been there, done that and got the selfie to prove it.

Let’s explore today’s most common educational business marketing methods. Most of these are labeled as “ Inbound Marketing” methods.

“How to market your business on social media”  is a huge Google search request. Last time I checked,  there were more than 183 Million results. We’ll get to Social Media in a paragraph or two so hold that thought.

If you are still reading this blog, then you have a website. The content of your website has a massive impact on where you will end up on search engines results when a potential customer is looking for your service or product.  I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by SEO specialists selling their services and no doubt you’ve seen numerous ads for SEO software tools. I’m here to tell you, YES, SEO is as important as they say it is.

Whether you have the time and interest in becoming an SEO expert, or the funds to pay for one, is a decision many small and medium businesses struggle with daily.  Some larger companies have dedicated SEO staff and that’s all they do, every day, all day!

The education system certainly has enough conferences and trade shows that you can attend.

Do these work?   Is there a return on the significant investment of your time, staff power and precious marketing funds? Are all of those wonderful challenges that come with creating a unique visual presentation ( aka… awesome booth to attract your potential clients ),  somewhere far far away from your office for two or more days, worth it?

Let’s explore today’s most common marketing tools and see if there is even a better way to make yourself, not just stand out from the hoards, but thrive in an intensely competitive market.

First is Social Media.  Wow !! where do we start?  That used to be a word to describe a couple of options like Facebook and Myspace.   Today, we have Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Qzone, Weibo, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Quora, and on and on.  There are top 60 lists out there. You get the point.

Your Facebook business profile is active with a post here and there and you tweet once in a while but that’s still a strange concept for some of us.   Since nowadays your posts or tweets don’t go anywhere unless you spend money on promoting them, you wonder how do you get more people to “Like” your Facebook page or “ Follow You” on Twitter.

So what is the best way to spend your social media marketing dollars? How do you find the time to post daily on Facebook and “tweet” 5-6 times a day with meaningful content for your followers?

Yes, you can hire a social media company or even your own social media in-house guru.   Those are all pretty hefty investments for any company, never mind a small business. Do you have thousands of marketing dollars available monthly for your online social media presence?  Some do, but most, don’t.

Back to your website.   So you’ve spent thousands of dollars on putting together a nice, current looking website.  You do your best to update the information in there to keep it relevant to the curriculum and the ever-changing educational environment.  But wait … that’s not enough. If you don’t work on getting your SEO on, you might be on page 244 of a Google Search result. You do know, most people only look at the first and on rare occasions the second page of the results, right?

As I mentioned earlier, Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) for many people is this mysterious art form you are only allowed to explore after 1,000 hours of meditation on a remote mountaintop in Tibet. You need to learn and understand long tail keywords, snippet preview, canonicalization, cornerstones, tags, and taxonomies just to name a few.  Or you can hire your own Guru if you have thousands of shekels, drachmas, rubles or yuan.

A number of years ago, I received an invitation to set up a booth at a large school board’s annual principals conference. I was honored and excited to participate.  I knew that this was my opportunity to get my program out there in front of my most important audience. After weeks of preparation, long days of hard work and thousands of dollars,  I had 2 (out of the hundreds that stopped by my booth and showed great interest ) actually contact me afterward. Major bummer!

There must be a better way” I kept telling myself.  I was searching online, looking for a better way to market my educational program and I found this website called

They were on the first page of a number of Google searches I explored so I had a look and see.

After about 15 minutes of perusing this site, I realized that many of my fellow program providers were in there promoting their business. I needed to get to the bottom of this.

Here’s what I unearthed. is basically a directory of field trips, in-school workshops, e-learning, teacher tools, fundraising options, tutors and more. There are hundreds of them. It also allows parents to find everything for their child to continue their education after school hours.   O.K. I might have plagiarized some of this from their website. Why rewrite what is already written by the experts.

It is free for everyone to search and they have their own, very cool, search engine within their website.  It allows you to search for everything I mentioned by grade level, location, curriculum, language in almost 40 different categories.   The more I looked the more I wanted to be in there. has a number of different membership options depending on what kind of business you have. They like to use the word “partnership” when it comes to the companies and individuals that pay to be in their amazing directory. Now, you’re thinking, who needs another directory.  There are tons of free ones out there. Yes, that’s true, but so is the old saying, “ you get what you pay for”

I have been in some of those “free” directories in the past.  Misspelled descriptions, wrong addresses, and emails and how do you even go about correcting all that wrong info about your business.  Ever try calling or emailing one of those places? Who puts that stuff in there in the first place?  Obviously, someone who considers English as their 5th or 6th language, maybe!

Call Schoolshows and you’ll get a real live person that speaks English as a first language.

On the other end of the spectrum are directories that charge double or triple or more and offer less. Usually, they are not as focused on a single niche market like education in Ontario.  Their patronage includes everyone instead of your target audience. has this PDF called “ What we do for providers” and it talks about everything I wanted to know.   They have a bunch of testimonials from businesses that love this directory and have seen direct results from their memberships.  You also get the usual specs everyone looks for like how many visitors they get and stuff. Since they have such a targeted audience, I can’t believe the number of visitors they get from just the education system ( over 240,000 last year alone) and how much time they spend on this website.  

This is not a static, do nothing, copycat directory.   There is this tool that the teachers and parents use called “ Busy Teacher Tool”.  They fill this form out if they don’t have the time to explore the site, or are in need of something they can’t find.   Schoolshows staff will even find and contact providers that are not in their directory if one of the teachers is looking for a program that is unusual or very specific.  They have had thousands of requests from their “Busy Teacher Tool”. Each request translates into a lead for their members. That’s what I call service.

best way to sell to schools

Now, do you remember what I told you about SEO and having your website searchable by Google and other search engines?  Well, these guys must know what they are doing. I searched some of the members that they have in this directory and their listing in Schoolshows show up in the first page and quite often on top of the actual members’ website.  That’s what I call SEO at it’s finest. They have all of their thousands of pages well cataloged by Google’s spiders for sure.

They market the directory as well as their members through their Social Media platforms as well.

When did your profile in any other directory get advertised on Facebook or Twitter as part of your membership ??  Try never ….. Lol

There are other promotions and direct marketing methods offers to their members so when you are ready to join, talk to one of their experts and they will be excited to share with you their current promotions.

OK, enough rambling about Try it for yourself and if your program is as good as you know it is …you will be on your way to ensure that your core audience knows about it the moment you create your profile in   

About Sara Martin

Life time learner, passionate about education, 10+ years advocating Experiential learning. Explore for field trips, in-school learning experiences and School Resources for parent council.

September 8, 2018


Comments are closed.