Direct to schools – tips for selling to schools in 2022

Estimated read time 5 min read

When it comes to selling their products and services to the education sector, businesses currently face many challenges.

It can be difficult to reach a school leader or bursar. They are busy, under budget constraints, and are often already being bombarded by vendors looking for school contracts.

More Than Words Marketing is a leading direct marketing agency and data provider. Our clients are companies and organisations across the UK who sell to businesses, schools, and the public sector.

We often find that our clients are eager to get involved in selling to schools, but are hesitant due to a few common concerns and misconceptions.

They often worry whether or not they’ll have to join a suppliers’ list, whether they’ll have to lower their prices to compete, and how long it will take to get paid.

Any educational institution is legally required to pay suppliers within 30 days, and value is more important in this market than price.

Becoming a listed supplier can be helpful, but is certainly not essential.  It is a misconception that there is a rigorous procedure companies have to go through to become a supplier, if you’re product or service is good enough, schools will buy from you!

When our clients do decide to tackle education marketing, they often ask our account managers for the most effective marketing strategy for connecting with schools.

We always respond ‘direct marketing’.

Marketing directly to schools (by email, phone, or post) is the most effective way to reach educational establishments before you have built up a reputation as a specialist education supplier.

Here are some tips for breaking into this lucrative long-term market.

Get to know your market

The people you need to target in schools will vary depending on your business, so you must be clear about the decision maker you need to reach.

Get to know your market

Businesses selling to schools need to know who makes the purchasing decisions for what it is they are selling.

You don’t just need to convince the Head teacher – there is usually a school business manager who typically signs off on purchases, and more valuable contracts may require multiple people to approve your proposal.

Determine which phase or key stage you are focusing on, or even a particular subject area. Identifying your target more specifically will help you focus your marketing efforts.

Using this information, you will be able to refine your marketing message in order to reach the key contacts in schools.

For example, to appeal to your target audience, your sales pitch may need to highlight your product or service for its cost-saving features, time-saving features for teachers, or increased productivity.

Be aware of the buying process

It takes time to sell to schools.

If multiple stakeholders are involved, it could take a while for key decision-makers to make a definitive buying decision.

Rushing them and forcing an answer will likely end in rejection – so don’t worry if you feel it’s taking a lot of time.

Be approved as a supplier

Some schools consult the approved supplier lists of local authorities and associations when they are seeking suppliers.

That is why you need to ensure your business will be found in those searches.

Incensu’s National Register of Education Suppliers, BESA, and Edu Suppliers are all important directories for your business – providing you with credibility and making it easier for key decision makers to find you.

Direct marketing and the buyer’s journey

There are three stages that describe the buyer’s journey for any industry: awareness, consideration, and decision.

These stages will follow regular dates during the school year, so advertising to the education market will follow a more defined pattern.

Awareness stage – June to October – email outreach

Teachers set goals for the next school year as one school year closes. Now is the time to create awareness of your brand.

Email marketing is a non-intrusive way to contact school officials, as opposed to calling or showing up in person, which can disrupt the school day.

In your email campaign, briefly describe the idea of your product or service, then provide options for scheduling a meeting (or continuing the dialogue via email until you can arrange a meeting).

Consideration stage – November to April – telemarketing to schedule meetings

Using your telephone contact list to set up face-to-face meetings is a great way to start a dialogue, introduce yourself, and schedule a future appointment.

Listen more than you speak. Show that you are listening by constantly confirming that you understand the school’s interests and needs.

Decision stage – April to June – direct marketing mix

Most school buying takes place over the summer so that everything is ready for the upcoming school year.

During this time, provide educators with all of the data and support they need to make an informed decision and convert.

Awareness stage - June to October - email outreach

This is the time to offer school leaders demos or free trials of your products, case studies, technical specs, and product-specific webinars.

Email, direct mail, phone calls and meetings are all effective ways of delivering these messages. This is where your sales team can take initiative and use what they’ve learned about their prospects in the earliest stages of the sales process.

Get your education marketing campaign off to the right start

Your marketing campaign should begin with selecting the right schools and educators to target.

You can select from more than 50,000 local authority educational establishments in three different ways with More Than Words Marketing’s UK schools database.

You can use the data in conjunction with our back-up support services to market your company and its products and services by email, phone, or postal mail over an entire year.

Our number is 0330 010 8300, or you can email us directly at [email protected]


Sarah Cantley

Editorial Head at UK Blog for Business & Startup.

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