How to Sell Blazer Programs to Uniform-Free Schools
The British love their blazers. School uniforms, boat clubs, royalty and rock stars! All of England loves a stylish blazer with an elaborately embroidered crest. Donning a crested blazer is a strong tradition, whether worn by a wealthy businessman as a serious status symbol, a student as a school uniform or by a rock star as a sardonic symbol to ridicule royalty—or just to look fierce.
Here in the U.S., some of our educational institutions have taken England’s lead by embracing the crested blazer as part of their uniform, while others have not. A hungry promo products distributor can find a lucrative sales opportunity in their non-uniformed school accounts. But how do you up-sell a blazer program to a principal who is only in the market for branded pens or notebooks?
How to sell an awards blazer program to administrators
If your client usually buys small-ticket items from you, it may be difficult to get them to wrap their brain around uniform sales. You must inspire them with a bigger picture. In fact, you will have to scratch the word "uniform" from your vocabulary when you introduce this idea. Use words like "achievement," "scholar," "excellence" and "tradition" to sell a concept that has emotional impact.
To sell your first professional apparel program, start small and offer huge potential at a reasonable cost. Sounds easy, right? The program you are introducing is not for all students. Only a select group of students who have achieved something special will earn a blazer in this program model. Remember, these are not uniforms!
Closing a brand new blazer program for a previously uniform-free school only happens when there is total buy-in from the administration for the concept. As always, your job as a distributor is to expertly present the big picture and its obvious value without a shadow of a doubt. Build in scalability and the possibility of earning some money for the school, and you will have a captive audience.
Help your buyer visualize this exciting scenario
- A school-wide awards ceremony is organized to present new blazers to honorees with tons of fanfare!
- School bands, audio-video teams, journalism students and even cheer squads may be involved. Tip for a cross-sell: Distribute branded noisemakers to the students in the audience that can be used again for sporting events.
- Invite families, relatives, friends and revered community members to create an even bigger event! Perhaps even a special guest speaker.
- The principal invites each recipient to come to the stage. The crowd cheers as they make their way. They receive their new blazer, witnessed by classmates, teachers and all who share in the proud moment!
- As the program grows into second and third generations, include past recipients to bestow the honor onto new inductees. Build on the excitement and create even more the buzz for the event. The emotional value of the award increases with more “blazered” students on the stage.
- When the event is over, students can share audio, video, writing, interviews with the winners and all kinds of digital content on social channels. Kids are naturals at this! The school communications department (or club) can create a truly authentic marketing campaign and push it out through the website, newsletters, email, radio, podcasts and even the local TV news. As a bonus, these interactive projects will make great college portfolio pieces for the creators of the media!
- Create a tradition that generates excitement and publicity year after year. Photos, videos and press releases of the event can bring great publicity to the school each year, attracting new students and teachers!
Another tip: Suggest having a donor campaign ready to send to parents and friends in attendance while the memories are fresh in their minds.
Your new program model is easy to duplicate
Once the school’s first awards blazer program has proven to be a success, the model can be used for other types of awards. In my research I found articles about schools that have awarded special blazers for different achievements to their students. A fourth grader in Duduza, South Africa—a genius according to his teachers—was awarded for being the top learner at his school in the first term for math and science. The Marist Brothers Lindmeyer School awards different color blazers for different levels of achievement. They then add embellishments for increasing levels of competence, like color braids, epaulets, embroidery and pins.
In many schools, academic and athletic awards are quite prevalent, but awards for humanitarian efforts like volunteering and fundraising are quickly gaining popularity. Colleges often look at activities like these when reviewing entry applications. A well designed awards event provides multiple benefits to the students, as well as the school as a whole. Student morale gets a huge boost when a student is rewarded, beaming with pride and happiness, before their cheering classmates. Likewise, students in the audience can relate to the winners and imagine themselves receiving the blazer. Some will be truly energized and motivated to earn their very own blazer next time. Earning a recognition blazer is a source of great pride. A sharp looking crested blazer is a keepsake of a memory that lasts a lifetime. For some students it can change the course of their life.
The ultimate goal of every school is to encourage students to be more engaged academically, to be happy and confident socially, and to send them off to a successful future as a result of their efforts. When the administration works as a team to incentivize participation on all levels, the return on investment is priceless. Use these tips when developing your next presentation and you’ll look at your school promotions buyers in a whole new light.