Tool 25: Designing a Promotion Plan

After working hard to create an educational resource, it’s important that you let audiences know the resource is available. This section offers tips and tools to help you think about your audience and how to reach them.

First Things First - Really Consider Your Audiences!

The first suggestion is for the design team to spend time during its initial planning discussing ways to promote and distribute the materials being developed (use the Promoting MSUE Materials Worksheet [Microsoft Word file format] to help your team accomplish this). Consult the information you gleaned from your needs assessment and then ask yourselves what the best way is to reach the audiences that you’ve identified, both within Michigan and nationally. Think beyond your primary audience and consider others who might be interested in using your material.

Designing a Promotional Flyer or Brochure

Even before the curriculum is actually available, consider creating a promotional flyer or brochure that gives the most essential details and benefits of your educational resource. Work with your MSUE Curriculum Coordinator to determine what information should be included on a promotional piece. Use this piece to begin to build excitement about the materials and to entice audiences to plan to purchase them. Distribute the flyer at volunteer and professional staff training events, at professional development conferences, or as a direct mail piece to targeted groups. You can also use the flyer when talking to and meeting with commercial distributors of educational materials about using their network to distribute the new curriculum.

Working With an External Distributor of Educational Materials

If your curriculum has broad enough appeal for marketing to the general public, consider educational material distributors as a potential market resource. Whether they have regional or national interests, they can help place your resource in retail stores and catalogs that are not a part of the traditional Extension distribution network.

Promoting on the Web

The Web is a great place to promote the availability of new curriculum. It allows you to offer people a trial or test of the new resource by offering teaser activities from the new learning material with information on how to order the complete resource. Refer to Connecting Your Curriculum to the Web for additional information on using this valuable outlet.

Using List Servers and Internet Discussion Groups

Although some list servers might have restrictions on these kinds of promotional posts, many subject- or topic-specific list servers offer you a direct link to the people who would most benefit from your educational resource. This makes them a great marketing tool. Don’t forget the internal ones you work with as well, such as "MSU Extension Spotlight" and other subject or audience specific list servers you belong to.

Using Advertising

A well-placed journal or magazine ad can generate great visibility among a target audience. Keep in mind that this would require some allocation in your budget to pay for the ad, but it might be money well spent if the audience includes educators who could use your resource in their work with children. Remember to keep the graphic designer involved with your project aware of any needs related to advertisements.

Distributing Review Copies

Consider budgeting for and offering review copies of your curriculum to resource and lending libraries at locations frequented by audiences that can really use your resource - such as school faculty lounges and staff resource libraries. Include an insert that tells people how to order additional copies. You might also check with school or community libraries to see what their policy is on review copies. It is also wise to plan for at least one review copy to be sent to each MSU Extension office in Michigan and possibly, when appropriate, each state program nationally.

Using News Outlets

Consider other publications that go to your target audiences and work with the editors to develop feature stories about the new educational resource you are offering.  For example, create a story about your new curriculum that includes a sample activity from the curriculum. Stories from your pilot testing might make very good copy to convince people of the value of your educational resource.

Promotion at Trade Shows and Conferences

Identify the kinds of national and statewide conferences and trade shows that would provide good venues for the promotion of your curriculum materials, including multidisciplinary educational conferences (such as NAE4-HA, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the National Middle School Association) and more specialized conferences, such as those held for content specialists, homeschoolers and school-aged child care providers.

Using Direct Mail

If you have access to mailing lists of people and partners who work specifically in the area your educational materials were created for, consider doing a direct mailing to those people about your new resource. One group might be the state’s registered 4-H volunteers or families in the target project area, which is available through the 4-H enrollment software. Another group might be teachers whose subject matter can be complemented by your new resource. These lists can often be purchased from organizations that maintain them. Also consider generating mailing lists from your Web site by offering people interested in learning about new materials the chance to register for a mail notification list.

Using Community-Based Bookstores or Special Interest Book Vendors

Some independent (nonchain) bookstores are willing to carry and sell educational materials that have a strong community appeal or that feature the work of local authors. Although locally-owned bookstores are relatively rare, where they do exist, they might have a program that could be used to market MSUE educational materials. Also consider other community vendors whose product lines support or are supported by the educational materials MSUE has developed. Examples might include local feed stores that might carry 4-H animal science curricula, local garden centers that might carry MSUE plant science curricula, local science and gadgetry stores that might carry 4-H science literacy curricula that feature activities using the kinds of products they sell.

Last Updated: July 29, 2009; Last Reviewed: April, 2009
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