School Outreach: Part 2

** Featuring outreach tactics for report card season, the holidays, and the spring semester! **

Karen JacksonWe hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our Back-to-School Sales and Marketing Spotlight! As mentioned, for this two-part series, we’ve enlisted the expertise of franchisee Karen Jackson (Mesa & Queen Creek, AZ). A former PTO president with demonstrated success meeting and exceeding fundraising goals, Karen started her Mathnasium journey with a strong grasp of local education culture. Drawing from her experience, she crafted a comprehensive, year-round school outreach strategy to connect with the right people at the right time (summarized on the September 2 Mathnasium Live webinar). Her efforts have helped her make Mathnasium a respected household name in the communities she serves.

Read on for Karen’s recommendations for report card season, the holidays, and the spring semester! An overview of best practices along with outreach tactics for summer and back-to-school can be found in Part 1. Also, for your convenience, we’ve consolidated this series and all supporting documents into a single document, which you can download here!

Fall/Report Card Season

Teacher Conference Week Letter and Survival Kit – repeated before each round of parent-teacher conferences (typically during the fall and spring)

Before report card season and parent-teacher conferences, Karen connects with principals and works with them to get their buy-in and feedback on a special letter and offer for teachers and students. This is a great time to remind teachers that Mathnasium is there to support them and their students!

  • Karen delivers letters to each teacher’s mailbox before conference week encouraging them to send in students who really need help to Mathnasium for two free weeks of math help. If a student comes in before conference week is over, they’ll get a third week for free. The offer is outlined in a letter addressed to parents—teachers give it to parents in person during parent-teacher conferences.
  • She also includes a special treat for teachers: A Teacher Conference Week Survival Kit!

Teacher Conference Week Survival Kit

  • Received by about 200 teachers and is placed in their mailbox along with the teacher letter.
  • Contains pencils, pens, notepads, notebooks, candy bars, and other snacks—including special homemade “A+” cookies. Everything’s nicely packaged in a clear bag with a bow!

November/December/Holiday Season

 Teachers, parents, and administrators are typically focused on the holidays around this time, and Karen reported that she holds off on school outreach and events at this time of year. Karen keeps her eyes and ears open for opportunities to donate Mathnasium gift baskets, scholarships, etc. for the holidays. Tip: When making donations, tactfully ask for recognition, be it on the school’s website, a banner, paper newsletter, e-newsletter, etc.

New Year (end of January)

 Around the end of January, students are focused on preparing for the AzMERIT standardized test! Students are expected to score 76% to pass—parents of children who don’t score well on practice tests receive a firm yet encouraging letter from the principal outlining the situation. Karen eagerly shows her support for community students in dire straits—included in the principal’s letter is an offer for two free weeks of tutoring at Mathnasium if families come into the Center and present the letter. Students who score 40% and below are invited to come in for a free month!

Note: It takes a well-established relationship to get this level of backing from a principal—if you’re new to school networking, be aware that getting this tactic off the ground takes time. Karen initiated this tactic at a school where she previously served as PTO president. “The principal had me come in and look at the AzMERIT math practice tests,” she recalled. “After some back and forth, I mentioned that we should work together. If there are kids who look like they’re going to score pretty low, they should come into Mathnasium for two weeks free.” While it may seem like an unusually extravagant offer, Karen said that having a principal stand behind the Mathnasium brand has been one of her most effective school marketing opportunities. She’s implemented this program at three elementary schools thus far, and reports that from one school, only 12 students came in with the offer. However, out of the 12 students, 10 eventually signed up for 12-month contracts!

Late Winter through Spring (February to June)

In addition to another round of outreach around parent-teacher conferences (see Fall/Report Card Season), Karen and her team make a huge push for intensive school marketing around this time of year, focusing heavily on events. “It’s important to get into schools at the end of the school year to push your summer program,” she said. They sponsor school and community sports teams (Karen joins the boards of sports teams whenever possible) and are present at all school festivals. Karen particularly tries to be present at sports team registration nights. “Most teams around here don’t do online registration. Parents have to go in and sign their kids up. I donate to the teams and ask if I can attend one of these nights,” she explained. “I also ask if I can set up a booth or table on opening day. It’s a huge event, and I always see so many people.”

Karen makes sure she switches out the messaging on her flyers to promote her summer program. She continues to attend PTA/PTO meetings regularly and always keeps her eyes peeled for opportunities to support and get involved.

Tips and Advice

Karen quickly pointed out that the most important thing you can do when networking with schools is to actively engage with key contacts and parents every chance you get! Simply dropping off donations at schools doesn’t work. At events, be a dynamic presence—stand up and interact with passers-by! Become a familiar face by attending PTO/PTA meetings and volunteer whenever possible. “It’s so essential that you get in there and everyone knows your name as a community volunteer!”

From experience, Karen also learned that springtime school/sports team event marketing is well worth the investment. “My first year at Mesa, I was heavily into events, and had a great summer,” she explained. “The second year, I scaled back a bit, and it definitely showed in my summer enrollment.”

Finally, be prepared to invest the time necessary to build solid relationships and don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to build rapport! And if one school contact proves unreceptive, don’t give up—Karen noted that it’s almost always possible to find an alternate door into a school. PTOs and PTAs present a great starting point!

Karen reports that many schools in her Mesa territory now proactively reach out to her to ask for help and point out sponsorship/support opportunities. She’s currently maintaining the school marketing momentum at Mesa schools while working to build and solidify relationships with parent leaders, teachers, and administrators at schools closer to her newer Queen Creek Center.