Help! How can we successfully launch an educational product for children without spending a fortune?

education,products,wildlife,marketing,project,writing,adviceDear HTWB Agony Columns

My company makes and sells educational books, DVDs and other offline and online products for schools to use as projects and as a blended boost along with their regular curricular studies. We have a new wildlife/conservation product ready to go and… although we do have a significant budget for its marketing, we can’t afford a massive above-the-line spend.

What would you advise us to think about – something that will get us plenty of attention in both social media and the news/broadcast variety?

Gerald from Sydney 

Hi Gerald

Although I’m based a long way away from Australia, here’s an idea that would almost certainly put your brand in a favorable light in your target marketplace and give your sales people the opportunity to develop good relationships with key decision makers.

This would create some long-lasting (but not fiercely expensive) publicity for your company – it involves sponsoring and promoting a nationwide competitive project for children in your target age groups.

You could link up with a national cause in, let’s say, the area of wildlife conservation – or any cause that is of national interest, and is educational but not politically sensitive.

You would then launch the project with your company’s name in the title (e.g. “the HowToWriteBetter Wolf Watch 2014” … although with my business name it should more likely be a literacy scheme … and in Oz it might be for another species altogether!)

The idea would be for groups of children to create something that promotes the project’s objective, e.g. a …

  • montage
  • scale model
  • poster
  • video
  • tapestry
  • web page
  • blog
  • book
  • eBook
  • PowerPoint presentation

… or whatever you think is appropriate – and for those to be judged.

children,schools,product,project,launch,marketing,writing

A wildlife-related project can be incorporated into
a number of school curricular topics

Preliminary contests would be held at schools and perhaps within other groups like scouts, then the winning entries from those would move on to regional and final national levels.

You would probably need to split the entries into two or three age groups within your overall target market age range.

With a project like this, your brand’s name will be very visible among group leaders like teachers and scout/guide leaders, the children plus of course their parents who will hear about the activities connected with the project (and may get involved helping their child to do it.) The project would run over some length of time – probably the whole of a school year. And of course it would allow entries from both schools and the all the co-curricular groups as well.

Such a project, also, would attract a high level of publicity in local and national media. You might even be able to work a tie-in with a children’s or news magazine TV program on the basis of a running strand showing local and regional winners, leading up to the final.

Obviously there would be a cost to your company but that would be more in people time rather than expensive advertising. You would need appropriate branded print material describing and promoting the project and some efficient PR management to get media attention at the right times.

You would also need to create a website and blog for the project which would act as a central pivot for the duration, showing progress and stage winners. This would be backed up by a presence for your project on relevant social media, all providing useful branding opportunities and even the chance to promote your products overtly.

Here in the UK there was a lovely project of this type in the run up to the Y2K millennium celebrations back in 1999.

Junior schools were invited to create a large tapestry – of which each child in the chosen classes had to stitch a small square.

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,HowToWriteBetter.net,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurThe topic was “our school at the millennium” and my son’s group entered a lovely tapestry of their school as it looked at the time, complete with surrounding fields, roads, houses and even cows and sheep! Entries worked through local then regional and national levels. The shortlisted ones were photographed and displayed on the project’s website, and also were displayed at a gallery in London, all nailed to a huge wall for visitors to admire.

The sponsors of that exercise got a year’s worth of wonderful PR for their brand – plus direct, positive contact with their target marketplace – at what amounted to very low cost when compared with online and offline advertising.

So, a project along these lines might well deliver just the results you need in Australia.

Good luck, and let us know how it all goes!

What does everyone else think? What advice do you have for Gerald?

While you’re here, stop by my Bookshop…books and eBooks to help you write better – and to give to friends and family (don’t forget the Holiday Season is here)…

photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

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