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AfterSchool of Thought

Welcome to the "AfterSchool of Thought," a blog series for those with products and offerings for afterschool programs and the professionals who work in the field.

Grass Roots Efforts vs. Traditional Marketing – 5 Tips

Lately I've had some great conversations with organizations who are considering marketing their offerings to the afterschool market. They've had success in other educational markets and see afterschool as a viable opportunity.

When I ask what made them successful, I hear some inspiring stories. About how their founder served on the board of a certain Association for 20+ years. And another who spent months flying around the country training educators for free. I love these stories because they are great examples of what my 20+ years in marketing has taught me: developing strong brands requires passion, dedication, and consistency.

Grass roots branding efforts can be awesomely successful. There's nothing like face-to-face time to make a connection and create long lasting relationships. The challenge is that they require staffing, time, and resources and more often than not – a good chunk of change. Here's where more traditional methods of marketing and advertising step in. Email marketing, online advertising, social media, and print ads can be effective ways to launch your brand into a new market and reach a much broader audience.

But how do you decide which approach to take? It can feel overwhelming, especially if marketing isn't your forte, but here's some advice.

Know what you're spending – Are you keeping track of the costs associated with your grass roots efforts? Travel expenses, employee time, registrations and more can add up quickly. Even if it comes out of a different budget other than marketing, it's still marketing.

Track your ROI – Face-to-face time and walking away with fistfuls of leads can feel motivating, especially in the heat of the moment. But are you tracking an accurate return on your investment? Did the contacts you met a year ago turn into any sales? Also, ask yourself if you're doing something because "it's what you've always done." Just because something worked four years ago doesn't mean it makes sense for you today.

Repetition matters – The number of impressions experts say is required before someone acts is now up to somewhere around eight. I cannot stress the importance of brand consistency and repetition.

Consider your audience – When exploring your different options, be sure identify your audience. How many will you and/or your message reach? What are their roles within their organization and do they have decision-making power?

Diversify – My favorite marketing plans are those that take the multi-channel approach. When you combine your grass roots efforts with digital, social media, editorial and print, you're casting your net to a much wider audience and giving them a choice for how and where they want to act.

If the afterschool market is on your radar, let's connect. I'd love explore campaign options that are smart, creative, and designed to put your brand on the fast track for the field of afterschool. For more details now, please download a media kit here.

JillHeadshotWritten by Jill Carroll, Marketing & Media Consultant, with The National AfterSchool Association. "AfterSchool of Thought" is a blog series with tips and advice on marketing to the afterschool community.

Have questions or seek assistance on how you can better promote your offerings to the afterschool market? Contact Jill at jill@serendipity-media.com or 866-252-7108.