School-Based Partnerships (SBP) are quickly becoming big business with companies and school districts since digital advertising isn't connecting with audiences in the visceral way. It's not resonating with parents.
Marketers are realizing that, in some markets, companies who advertise directly through school districts have the ability to reach up to 8x the number of families that they can reach through traditional media outlets.
So, I have to ask, are School-Based Partnerships (SBP) part of your marketing mix for 2017? If not, they should be.
In fact, When parents were asked about what brands they'd support:
"77% agree that they would be more likely to purchase from and support a company if they sponsored the local high school" Turnkey Research & Entertainment, 2007, NJ
Our company creates School-Based Partnerships for brands across the United States. We also design partnership programs for some of the largest school districts in the United States.
So we get asked about these partnerships a lot and what they should look like.
Schools know that a good School-Based Partnership program can bring in much needed revenue, but that a really good corporate partnership (true SBP's!) can provide even more than some non-traditional revenue. A good School-Based Partnership can position a brand in a space that was vacant and needed by the community. It can be integrated into a program and revelant to the community.
One of my favorites that I was a part of creating was the Sprint Anti-Bullying Hotline in Duval County Public Schools (Jacksonville, Florida). It covers all the important points: Sprint filled a need and tastefully got themselves inserted into some of the most important conversations surrounding families. They also were seen in a very positive light (hero status) by creating a hotline. A hotline that was already there and being used but when Sprint got involved the anti-bullying hotline received a much needed boost in attention and, in turn, took off and was used to help prevent bullying. Sprint was the only name in this conversation. More importantly, it made sense to families and the community. So, find a space where your brand can be relevant and integrated into the community and enjoy the brand loyalty parents and communities show those who support their schools.
1.) It's true - you can now scale out your local initiatives. School-Based Partnerships allow you to reach local audiences all across the country with each one looking like it was designed and managed locally. Franchisees will love you especially since they don't have to do all the work. Scaled-out local provides an opportunity to design a promotional template and use that template to create experiences with your primary audiences in any market. SeaWorld (below) did a great job by having their creative artists design school menus for over 122 elementary schools across the Orlando market. The school district benefited from the new design and said that cafeteria sales jumped over 17% in months that these menus were used. It also provided SeaWorld the opportunity to announce their new turle exhibit directly to parents and the school districts was paid for the placement fees.
2.) A lot of school districts are ready for you (and others are getting there.) It's all the buzz in educational circles. School board members, School Superintendents, School Public Relations & Communications Directors and Athletic Directors have all taken interest. In the last 12 months, we've spoken at national conferences for each of these groups and the topic always comes up. Some school districts in the United States even have prepared programs you can look at and consider already in place and many more are just waiting to work with you. It's a great reason our #3 (below) is what it is...
3.) Your public relations team is wishing you would have been doing these already and it was probably that Junior AE who tipped off their director who told your boss. You know why? Because your PR Department is salivating over these. They are just waiting to give you a pound in the hallway and congratulate you. They may even be getting excited about these planning meetings. If you walk over and tell your PR department that you are doing a SBP campaign, they will immediately start thinking how much the media loves to hear about new school district initiatives and how many different feel-good stories they can possibilty pitch. If your company is coming into a district to provide knowledge, funds, personnel, product, etc, the school districts can help you get that free media.... When school districts contact media with a story, the media is much less skeptical of their intent. Stadium naming rights packages provide companies the opportunity to host events in their new stadium and invite the community to be a part of their new home. Think about it: How much we invest in one event and, for the price of 1-2 billboards normally, you can have your own stadium that can host a community event (bathrooms, concessions, seats, and parking already in place - almost pays for it alone.)
4.) School-Based Partnerships are not donations (unless you are doing it wrong.) Keep the philanthropy to your Foundation. School-Based Partnerships are designed to integrate your brand into the local community. If done right, your School-Based Partnership will allow you the opportunity to own a unique experience or space within local communities and these partnerships should have some affect on your bottom line (brand recall/loyalty increase, new sales, new users, etc.) Expectations should be clear at the beginning that outline what you expect from the partnership, how it will be executed, and the resources to make it happen. At the end, you should received a proof-of-performance report. If you are moving money around in your marketing budget (and you will,) you will need to have a School-Based Partnership program that reports all the engagement your brand has with local communities. We helped Outback Steakhouse get in between a cross-county rivalry series with both school districts winning with sponsorship payments and product from Outback.
5.) Cause Marketing + Content Marketing. In 2016, it was one or the other. Brands want to align with a cause and want to provide content to validate our brands to our audience. "We are part of your community," we scream. In 2017, it's going to be combining them. This is the place to do it. You can select your cause that aligns with your brand. Then, create the campaign that allows you to speak about how you tie-in with this cause and showcases your ability to talk about a certain topic and own the conversation around it. We put together a STEM SBP for NASA and Kennedy Space Center for them to talk directly to schools and students.
6.) Let the communities carry your message. With programmatic digital buying in frenzy mode, we forgot about that personal connection with our users. They don't care much about a billion impressions. Find a campaign that aligns with their beliefs and get in front of them. It changes everything.