What cranberries have to tell us about how best to sell into schools

No one has ever pretended that this is not a difficult time to sell into the education market.  But what we do know is that some firms are maintaining their sales levels, while others are not.

And we know this for sure because one such company that is maintaining its position and its sales is the Dyscalculia Centre, a company which I personally helped set up and which is run through Schools.co.uk

But what, I hear you cry, does this have to do with Cranberries?

Cranberries are part of Americana.  It is the juice of choice for Americans, and cranberries turn up in all sorts of foods.

But now China is about to put a 40% tariff on American cranberries.  I’m not sure why, but it is quite probably because the US President has said something while shouting to journalists as he got on a plane, and it was downhill all the way thereafter.

Yet that hardly matters, surely.  It is Americans who eat cranberries; the Chinese cranberry market is nothing much in the grand scheme of things.

However the problem for American cranberry farmers is that it is one of many areas of American industry that is based on a model of eternal growth.  Whatever you sell this year, you have to sell more – usually a lot more – next year.

Smaller companies often work on “selling as many as we can”, but if sales go down that too can be worrying.

There are several routes that different firms take to get themselves out of a cranberry crisis.

First, there’s the pull back model in which the firm stops advertising. That saves money but then sales drop, and when the market picks up again the firm that has dropped out of the teachers’ vision is now seen as yesterday’s news.

So the response becomes, “Blimey are they still in business?” rather than “Wow, that looks interesting.”

Second there’s steady as she goes. Keep promoting with the same message. It worked before so it will work again. Except in a time when the market is in upheaval and uncertainty the classic quickly looks like the quaint or worse the outdated.

Third, there’s notion of do the same advertising, but more. The problem now is that the teacher sees the ad but thinks “I’ve seen that before.”  No reason to buy now.

Finally there’s the notion of keeping on running the same level of advertising, but with different advertisements which approach the product or service from different points of view. That keeps the interest up, even in places where there is a perception that money is short.

And that, of course, is the approach we recommend through services like our 4 Email campaigns, and of course it is what we work on with our Velocity clients.

But what if you can’t think of a new approach?  As many a client has said to me, “Changing adverts is ok for you, but for me, what I sell is what I sell.”

However I’m a guy who loves a challenge.  Send in a copy of your one of your current adverts and I’ll offer you a way of changing that advert so that it still attracts attention.

I might not be able to sort out the cranberry market (although I do have a call booked this afternoon to a gent from Washington DC) but I may well have an insight that could help you.  No obligation. No price. No horseman will call.

Email Stephen on Stephen@schools.co.uk or call 01604 880 927

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