Think about your ideal customers. They're educated, affluent, stable, and influential, right? Those attributes apply to one group more than any other: America's 7 million educators.
Who Are America's Teachers?
Think about it. Every teacher is college-educated. Teachers' average annual household income is $114,800 — almost 50 percent greater than the general population's $81,100. This may sound high, but remember this is total household income, including spousal income. With those household funds, they spend a collective $1.75 billion per year on classroom supplies.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but our "Teachers as Consumers" report shows that teachers are a marketer's dream audience across consumer categories. They're passionate about the arts and twice as likely as peers to visit museums. They're also avid readers: More than four in five have bought books within the past year. Almost nine in 10 teachers have credit cards, and nearly two-thirds own investments. More than 90 percent have traveled domestically in the past year; over a third have traveled internationally.
But teachers don't consume in a vacuum. Every elementary teacher influences purchasing for around 30 households per year, and every post-secondary teacher reaches up to 150 households. Across hundreds of thousands of schools, it's safe to say that teachers have a huge hand in consumer spending.
Teachers won't, however, purchase or promote just any product that's put in front of them. Teachers are informed, with more than three-fourths reporting that they go straight to the internet for information. But, once they're convinced of a product's worth, they're eager to show their support. Sixty-one percent of educators have supported a product, service, or company by following it on social media.
What Can Teachers Do for You?
Teachers get high marks for just about every consumer characteristic. Companies that engage with them reap the following benefits:
1. Groom tomorrow's team members
It's no secret that America is in the midst of a tech talent shortage, but things are looking up. Many teachers are incorporating online applications and computer science concepts into their classrooms.
Wonder Workshop, for example, helps children learn the fundamentals of coding. It even hosts an annual robotics competition that gives students a chance to test their skills. Similarly, FIRST offers LEGO leagues, tech challenges, and robotics competitions to a community of more than 1 million students, parents, and teachers.
By introducing students to STEM concepts, companies can do more than produce pint-sized brand advocates; they can take a long-term approach to talent development. As tomorrow's consumers and workers, today's students will remember what generous companies did for them.
2. Build awareness of corporate causes
With an endless number of ways to contribute to worthy causes, consumers often forget about corporate foundations. But when companies support education-related causes, teachers are typically happy to spread the word.
Many schools still lack funding to cover technology in their classrooms. In 2012, Verizon partnered with Digital Promise to equip middle school teachers and students with a tablet and a two-year data plan. Verizon even included a free learning curriculum to engage students beyond its technology.
Opportunities aren't limited to tech foundations. The Wrigley Company Foundation benefits the well-being of people around the world. It recently partnered with the Oral Health Forum to educate children and adults on the importance of oral health and support local civic and environmental initiatives. Since 2013, it has also worked with Pratham to provide literacy education to children in a mint-farming area of Uttar Pradesh.
3. Boost brand loyalty
Teachers are loyal consumers. Compared to 67 percent of the general population, 77 percent of teachers shop at their favorite stores because they're looking for tried-and-true brands.
Teachers are also community influencers. Intentionally or not, the nation's 55.6 million students and their 118 million family members look to teachers for everything from online lessons to college options to clothing preferences. By building loyalty with educators, brands build loyalty with nearly half the nation by extension.
For example, Ford Motor Company established Ford Driving Skills for Life to teach safe driving skills to newly licensed teens. Its goal was to decrease teenage vehicle crashes and provide information beyond standard drivers' education courses. The program included hands-on and web-based curricula at no cost to teachers, students, or parents. Guess what brand those teens and parents will look to for Jane and John's first cars?
4. Supercharge sales
Teachers are always on the hunt for free classroom materials. Whether it's through printable content or product giveaways, brands can ingratiate themselves with teachers by supplementing classroom supplies.
An assessment company recently used this tactic to build awareness for a new product line focused on social-emotional learning. It created an engaging poster to teach students about positive self-talk, encouraging teachers to print it for the classroom or make copies for students to take home.
But it didn't stop there. Included with each poster was a 60-day free trial for the brand's new screening product. By partnering with teachers, the company generated more than 1 million impressions and nearly 15,000 downloads.
Get Started Talking to Teachers
Ready to get teachers on your team? Building a resonant campaign begins with appropriate and relevant messaging. Focus on helping educators bring fresh, innovative, and low-cost lessons to their classrooms.
Unsure of what teachers want? Turn to experts who understand what teachers need, when they need it, and how best to reach them. The WeAreTeachers and School Leaders Now digital communities are wellsprings of helpful advice.
Also, keep in mind that many teachers are Millennials, and their students are either Millennials or part of Generation Z. In other words, they're digital natives who want fun, innovative technologies in the classroom.
Teachers are much more than great customers. By getting on their good side, brands can expand their talent pools, further corporate causes, create customer loyalty, and raise revenue. No wonder so many of today's marketers are talking to teachers.