Marketing for Schools By: Chuck Lehnhard

April 8, 2008 by Chuck Lehnhard

When it comes to marketing schools remember one thing, you have to do it over and over again. The bad thing is that every year the student groups change. At the high school level this can be a pain. At the middle school level it is not as bad because the teacher in charge, or the Activities Director usually stays on year after year. There are some schools that I have worked with the same A.D. for eight years! Other schools change a lot. You just have to take the good along with the bad, but most of the time once you are in, you are IN!
Just like in sales of any kind you need to qualify your schools to fit your needs. Some schools may like a great mix of music while others only like one style such as Hip-Hop or House. If you go into a school for which you are not prepared, it will be a terrible experience for both you and the students.If you have a large DJ company you might have to put the right DJ at the right school. All it takes are a few questions from you when booking the dance. Don’t be shy and ask things like the make up of the student body or do they play a radio station during lunch and if so which one. This will give you an idea what you are getting into.

When designing your flyers for schools think hip! Students don’t want to see wedding promos or boring pictures. Use bright colors, cool graphics and show some pizzazz. One of the best investments I ever made was a professional shot of my light show. You can tell people that you have Robo Scans, Beamers or whatever, but show them a picture with a big WOW factor and you will win half the battle. Have a bubble machine? Show them! Do not take this picture yourself. Unless you are a part time professional photographer with all the right gear, your shot will not be worth it. You don’t want somebody to rent a jukebox do you? Hire a pro! It will be worth it in the long run.

Now you have got your picture and some cool graphics, what do you say? Each area is different. If you are in an area that likes Country and Western music you are not going to use a lot of Hip-Hop wording or street talk. Make your promo geared toward your area. You always want to tell people in short easy to read lines. Let them know how professional you are, or that you take requests, or that you have the best light show or sound system in the Tri-State area. However, don’t ever stretch the truth. Schools see lots of DJs and if you think they won’t know any better, you are wrong. Let them know how much fun you are and also where you have played. List things that you do that set you apart from the competition. Use quotes from past Activities Directors.

Although you want to get enough facts in your promo material, it’s also important that you don’t pack too much information into the flyer. You want just enough to wet their appetite. Do be sure to put your phone number on every page! If people have to look for your number they might not call! People often buy on impulse. You want them to read it and call you NOW!

When it comes time to mail, who do you mail to? Call the schools at which you have decided you would be willing to play. We all have our own boundaries. Will you drive two hours to a school? Maybe you’d prefer to drive only an hour or less.

To start off, when you do your first mailing to a school, you want the blanket effect. For the first couple of years, mail everyone. As time goes on you can narrow your field. To start off, you should mail each class advisor, all the student class presidents, the prom committee, dance committee and other groups that may have something to do with dances. Some DJs also mail the PTA or other parent teacher groups. This may mean that each school is getting five or six packages and that’s okay. It gets your name out there. Like any other market, you have to start big.

I do my first mailing the first week of school. Then I do another mailing in January. Some DJs mail every other month to push for each type of dance i.e.: homecoming, after the game, winter formal, spring fling, prom and graduation. Here again it depends on your market and the size of your company. A single system person might not need the phone calls that ten system company might, so they can be more selective.

You can get the phone numbers and addresses that you need from your local library or you can call the State Department Of Education and request a listing of the schools. There is also the phone book. I’m sure that you may be even able to search the internet by areas to find the schools.

Once you get the numbers call the school and put a smile on your face. A smile carries over to the tone in your voice and people are more willing to help you out when you start asking for five or six names. Also take the time to confirm the address to which you will be mailing.

Always be honest and explain to them that you have a DJ service and would like to mail some information about your service. If you think you have the time, see if the Activities Director is available. Introduce yourself and give him or her your pitch. It is really amazing how many dances you can book just by asking! One word of warning, NEVER CALL THEM KIDS! It’s always students or student. When talking to anyone at a school never ask ” how many kids do you have come to your dances?” It’s always “how many students do you have come to your dances?”

It might even pay for you to do a free lunch time promo. When starting out be prepared to go all the way! Don’t be afraid to be persistent. You may call one day and the next is the day that they are planning a dance.

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Chuck Lehnhard Chuck Lehnhard (4 Posts)

Chuck Lehnhard has been a full time single system Mobile DJ for 30 years and he was at the very 1st Mobile Beat Expo. He loves sharing ideas with other DJs. Starting out in the school market, he moved to being more wedding oriented after moving to Maui for 8 years. Now back in California he enjoys the variety of events he is doing, networking with DJs and oh yeah, he likes to play golf!


Filed Under: School Dances