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Selling Through the Teacher

Jun 18, 2019

By Bob Stimolo

Do you market a product that parents purchase to help their children succeed in school? If so, you might consider a program to reach parents through teachers. Here are the necessary ingredients to qualify for a successful “through the teacher” campaign:

  • The product must involve a concept that teachers believe improves students’ success in school. For example, teachers believe that students who read at home do better in school. Encouraging reading at home is something teachers feel they can endorse and that their endorsement is consistent with good teaching practices.
  • The product must be appealing to students. If it is not appealing, students will not be enthusiastic and their enthusiasm has a great deal to do with how parents will react.
  • There must be a benefit to every player in the chain between the teacher, the student, and parents. Benefits can include gifts or discounts to teachers, students, and/or parents.
  • There needs to be a vehicle for communication between all three players. For example, a website that parents access to sign up and that the teacher can also access to see who has signed up. This transaction can also be conducted via paper and pen - a send home note from the teacher to the parent that the parent can sign and return to the teacher.
  • Finally, there needs to be a conversion effort to parents after they have signed up for a trial offer to convert them to a full commitment.

Children’s book clubs and magazines are a good example of products that lend themselves to “through the teacher” programs. Here is an example of the dynamics that make these programs succeed:  For every each one thousand teachers invited to participate in the program, five percent of them hand out the send home notes. On average, five or six parents per teacher sign up for a free trial and two or three parents end up committing to a subscription. That works out to a net response of ten to fifteen percent.

Through testing and research, we developed a list of program attributes that are most likely to make teachers become advocates for this program:

  • The primary attribute is that the program enhances students’ education. The notion that students who read at home are more successful at school is a concept that resonates with teachers and parents to this day.
  • It is important that the offer to parents is unique and available only through teachers.
  • It helps if there is a gift for students and that the initial offer is on a trial basis.
  • Parents need to feel they can return product they receive on trial for full credit and that they can cancel their child’s membership at any time.
  • Finally, the teacher should be eligible for a reward based of how many parents participated regardless of whether the parent said “yes” or “no” to the offer.

One of the unique aspects of this program is that many teachers who participate do so year after year. Each fall a brand new batch of students fill their classrooms and each year teachers become better at participating in the program. As they get better, the net response rates increase.

If would like an opinion as to whether your products are suitable for a through the teacher promotion, please email me at rstimolo@smriinc.com.