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Back to school marketing

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It seems as if it wasn’t too long ago that the calendar read “First Day of Summer,” and yet, here we are in August already. Fall is upon us and that means its Back to School time. If you’ve read any of my columns, you know that even though my niche is publicity, marketing, and branding, I’ve always made sure I’ve expounded upon the importance of giving back. Whether we realize it or not, when we give, we leave behind our brand in some shape, form, or fashion.

Why not use this time to give back to children who will be starting school soon and may not have the means to purchase school supplies. I’m a little personal when I give back to students. There are opportunities that give you a list of supplies for a school and tell you what to buy, not knowing what child it affects or even if they are being distributed evenly or properly. I prefer to pick a student or family to purchase needed supplies. This way I can see exactly where my investment has gone and I can see the real lives of those who are touched by my gesture. God has blessed us with so much, it is such a pleasure to bless someone else who is standing by, waiting for their blessing.

In addition to sowing your monetary investment into a child’s education, you can also buy the supplies yourself. We know that most school age children in elementary need crayons, pencils, paper, markers, scissors, and other supplies. Middle school children need markers, pencils, paper, notebooks, and binders. While high schools students may need pens, notebooks, binders, and other supplies. If you were really in a gifting mood, many students would appreciate electronic tablets or advanced math calculators. Gifting a college student one of those expensive books they’ll need will help tremendously.

I know you’re wondering at this point, “How will this leave my brand’s mark?” or “What’s in it for me?” Listen, just the sheer fact that you are helping someone should be satisfaction enough. However, you can brand the products you give by attaching a business card. Or you could have labels made with your information on it and affix a label to each of the products you give. A suggestion would be:

A Special Gift
For Susie Student
From Bryant Consulting
PO BOX 13727, Greensboro, NC 27405
www.bryantconsultingonline.com
(336)525-1850

You can put whatever you’d like, but I think you get the picture. Obviously, it wouldn’t be too cool to put a label on a pen or a pencil, so why not have some specialty items made by companies like:
• Vista Print
• TwigOneStop
• 4Imprint
• National Pen

Several online shops will make personalized branding material. If you’d like to keep it local, check your local yellow pages (if you still use those things), or sites like Google, Yelp, or Foursquare to find one near you.

In addition to the ideas I’ve mentioned above, you can conduct your own supply drive. Announce and market the drive. Ways you can do this is:
• Local newspaper
• Local news station
• Local television station
• Local radio station
• Advertise online via community calendars
• Utilize social media
• Post flyers in libraries, grocery stores, recreation and community centers
• Word of mouth

If you don’t have means to give a monetary gift or supplies, keep in mind that tutoring is free. Perhaps a child is in need of a skill you possess. If you are a computer geek, you know there are many who lack the basic computer skills needed to survive in this world. Offer your time and skill to a needy or underserved child and watch their lives flourish.

If you have a particular family, school, or religious organization you’d like to give to, advertise that you are raising money for that organization, or you can surprise the organization with the donation. Ask your local church or your personal and profession of circles if a family is in need of school supplies, and donate the supplies to them. Organizations like the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross have programs called “Adopt a Family,” where you can adopt a family for Christmas and purchase gifts, specifically tailored to that family’s wants and needs. You can do the same for Back-to-School, especially if you know of a large family in need.

If you just want to donate to a school in your area, go to School Supply List and input your zip code to find schools nearby. It even has a list of school supplies for each grade from kindergarten to high school.

You didn’t think I’d finish this column without mentioning books did you? Of course not. Why not donate your “appropriate books” to a school library, university or college library, or your local library, a place of worship, or a needy family? If you write children’s books, why not donate ten or more of your books to a group of children? If you wrote a self-help book on navigating college, why not donate them to HBCUs or college students. What about that child who happens to be the first person in their family to attend college? I’m sure they could use some guidance on how to navigate the new life that is college. Make sure that you autograph your books, and I suggest affixing a label with your information in it. You never know, the book could catch the eye of the powers-that-be, and it could be considered for part of a reading curriculum. Now that’s what I call branding.

Above I’ve listed many ways you can give and “get” when helping others. But I have to tell you, folks, nothing beats seeing the face of a family who had no idea how they’d provide their children with school supplies. Being able to be a blessing to someone is only a fraction compared with what God had blessed us with. Give.

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