Let’s say you have a message, brand, or a cause you want to get on the radar screen of people all over the country. The fragmented media landscape makes reaching across demographics, geographies, and interests challenging. Sure, if you can get something to go viral, it can spread like wildfire. But so far no one has bottled the secret sauce that makes something blow up virally so that it reaches everyone in the U.S. It does or it doesn’t. And who wants to trust your outreach efforts to a hit-or-miss strategy?
What if there was someone in every corner of the country who had the attention of kids, families and communities? Someone who was a trusted authority that people listened to? And what if companies and causes like yours had already proven that putting their message in that someone’s hands was a sure way to engage with millions, nationwide?
Go Back to School
We’re talking teachers. From rural to urban, mountains to plains, coast to coast, in every neighborhood, there are teachers. In fact, seven million U.S. teachers serve 54.5 million students. And, through their students, these educators connect with 90 million parents and countless colleagues where they live, work and play.
Think of the potential buyers and potential consumers of your message that teachers connect with each day. Look ahead; these could be your next generation of purchasers, voters, advocates, innovators, businesses, communities, state leaders, and school boards. Once a teacher embraces your cause or program, they use their skills to convey messages quickly and effectively. As messengers, it’s hard to beat teachers. They have a reputation for honesty and ethics, and a built-in (you could even say captive) audience.
There’s no doubt, educators can make things happen for your company or cause using their unique and powerful influence. For instance, through the influence of a teacher:
- A school or district may undertake a new health or safety program that increases the well-being of their students and their community.
- Peers learn about a summer travel program that sparks their imagination and eases barriers to embark on a new adventure.
- Parents and school boards form partnerships to purchase a line of sports or playground equipment for all to enjoy.
After hearing a recommendation from a teacher, more people embrace news of a fresh initiative faster and farther than any newswire service or customer rewards program. Why? Because they are already “embedded” in communities. Teachers are already trusted and respected, and they are hungry for materials that engage their students and that align with their lesson plans.
Having teachers as your messengers sounds good, right? But hold on. You can’t just send your existing brochure to a teacher and expect them to immediately promote you to their students! Teachers take their education mission very seriously. They see themselves as gatekeepers for the content they share with students and colleagues. You have to rethink and re-imagine your content from the teacher’s point of view.
At MDR, we help you take the guesswork out of engaging with this rich audience. Through our experience connecting brands with educators, we’ve learned how to translate all kinds of messages into materials that fit seamlessly into schools and classrooms:
- A nonprofit focused on saving children and healing families raised their brand awareness in schools by conducting a contest targeting administrators to enter to win professional development training for their staff.
- A credit card company introduced a financial literacy program using custom lesson plans, a compelling and shareable infographic, and a feature article.
- A nonprofit promoted a fire safety awareness campaign with an interactive children’s app, an eBook aligned to Common Core State Standards, and a website with interactive lessons, among other tactics.
Finally, it’s important to appreciate that teachers’ roles inside schools are changing. For instance, did you know U.S. educators play major roles in planning, recommending, and implementing school purchases? That creates a real opportunity for marketers because teachers are particularly targetable; by subject taught, by grade, by student and community demographics, etc. So, you can get your message in front of people who are interested in getting the right products and services into schools.
Bottom line: Teachers are trusted influencers who can be powerful messengers for brands and nonprofits.