FROM THE BLOG  |  September 20, 2020

Why Use Local School Outreach?

A key part of local marketing is building and maintaining relationships within the local community. At the top of that list are schools and educators. Even during the pandemic, this remains a priority although the execution may shift. Students and teachers are jumping into the new unique structure of the school year and it is time for your local business to leap after and support them as they adjust to the complexities of online learning, in-person social distancing and all of the twists the pandemic requires. Understand more about this facet of local store marketing (LSM), why it matters, and how your strategy can be updated to reflect current events.

What is local school outreach?

To understand local school outreach, let’s get our thinking caps on and dive into LSM. A brief explanation of LSM is that, at it’s core, it is all about building relationships within your trade area (1-5 mile radius of your location).  Each of your locations should be executing unique, targeted grassroots initiatives in an effort to generate awareness, build these relationships and result in positive ROI. Marketing to educators through local school outreach is simply one part of this process. By investing time in your LSM outreach, you will retain sales, build brand loyalty and sustain growth over time.

Why does it matter?

LSM is the difference between success and merely surviving; do you want to drive sales through the roof or just barely make ends meet? The former is easily attainable by utilizing local store marketing. You will gain both short and long-term benefits by keeping your brand top-of-mind in your community. There is both measurable ROI to prove this and intangible ROI, such as awareness and positive brand impression, that shows the value of LSM and marketing to schools specifically.

How is the pandemic changing local school outreach?

Prior to the pandemic, direct outreach to schools was the proven strategy for success. This could include a targeted direct mail package, visiting the school, bringing food to a school spirit day, or handing out coupons on school grounds. Now, with social distancing requirements and virtual classes, it’s not the time to be making face-to-face contact with local school outreach nor can we assume all educators are on-premise. Traditional methods of marketing to schools might not be viable right now, and we’ve worked with our clients to provide new methods of reaching this audience, including:

  • Targeting educators and students in their homes
  • Using a layered outreach approach
  • Donations that help meet the school’s needs, for example:
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Branded masks
    • Cleaning products

Not only do we have to pivot the vehicles and tactics utilized, but also what kind of message we send. Teachers are taking on the challenges of adapting to new teaching processes and are venturing into uncharted waters. Our educators are working hard to continue providing students the highest level of care despite all of the challenges facing them. Because of this, the traditional “offer” approach may appear insensitive or out of touch.  Instead, approach it as a “giving back” or “thank you” gift ensuring educators feel acknowledged and appreciated for their work.

Can UMI help develop a local store strategy for my business?

UMI specializes in not only marketing to schools but LSM as a whole and can help you address the changing needs of your business today. We’ve developed hyperlocal plans for a wide range of businesses and provided swift execution with successful outcomes. Our four-step plan from organization to implementation includes the following:

  1. Understanding your audience
  2. Analyzing your trade area
  3. Developing and executing a strategic, targeted plan
  4. Tracking and analyzing

If you’re interested in marketing to schools or increasing your LSM efforts as a whole, contact us today. We can tailor our four-step plan to your needs and make you a personalized plan to maximize opportunity.