Educators are a band of wise warriors quietly cultivating the minds that will form our future — they’re some of the most valuable people in society. But how often do you think of them as an investable audience when it comes to building brand awareness?
It’s time for retailers and brand marketers to take a second look at them as potential partners. Educators have direct and trusted influence over their networks. They inform students, parents, and institutional leaders alike, and they’re in a unique position to inspire these potent purchasing groups and turn them into brand advocates.
What’s more, educators are highly invested themselves. When you consider that teachers in the U.S. spend about $1.75 billion every year out of their own paychecks on supplies for their students, you start to gather how important the collective spending power of the nation’s educators can be.
That’s why targeting educators in your business marketing practices can enrich your brand image and grow your bottom line. Many large companies, like Cisco and IBM, have already invested in education-based corporate social responsibility initiatives, and smaller businesses have a lot to gain by following their lead.
Here are three ways you can engage this powerful audience in your marketing initiatives to boost your brand image and your bottom line:
1. Focus on educators as change agents for your CSR initiatives.
Educators have an innate drive to make a difference in the world. This makes them perfect partners to spread your good news, especially if your CSR program jibes with their teaching concerns — whether that involves health and wellness, financial literacy, or STEM training for young women.
Tip: Catalyze your budding relationships with educators and encourage their propensity for change by offering free high-value resources. Teachers are hungry for great prompts and tools they can use to make their lessons more impactful. For example, consider the Earn Your Future Digital Classroom — it comes from one of our clients and offers kids a fun introduction to financial literacy.
2. Speak to educators’ purchase power.
All educators — from district supervisors to kindergarten teachers — are involved in major purchasing decisions. They weigh in on technologies, textbooks, and supplemental products, and their recommendations can make whole communities loyal to your brand. They’ll only recommend products they truly believe in and trust, but once you’ve won them over, their staying power is strong.
Tip: Try running a contest or giveaway as part of your next product launch to give educators a taste of your brand value. You could promote the contest on social media, too, giving your audience an easy avenue to share it with their networks. (Keep in mind that educators are most active on Facebook and Instagram.)
One way education-conscious tech companies like Microsoft have done this is through ambassador programs. They offer schools the chance to learn from their product ambassadors for free, in return giving them incentive to become ambassadors themselves.
3. Treat educators like micro-influencers.
Teachers might not be celebrities in the traditional sense, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find more influential figures in the local community. They come from a wide range of demographics; they love to share their knowledge; and they’re trusted by their friends, peers, and students.
Tip: Try building an influencer marketing campaign that appeals to educators’ social sides. Educators love sharing insights, but they’re also often strapped for cash and funding. A free product sample or piece of content is often enough to get them engaged.
For example, Stitch Fix, an online clothing subscription company we work with, inspires educators to share by sending a special subscription box. They waive the sign-up fee, too, in exchange for a thoughtful review of the service.
Targeting educators could be the best thing you ever do for your marketing campaign. They can help you spread the word, build trust and credibility, and bring your product into the lives of a whole new generation.
What do you think is the best way to reach out to educators? Share any programs your company uses to reach out to this valuable audience.