Bottom Line Up Front: Parent-Teacher Organizations have huge operating power when it comes to making decisions about the school community. Use them to your advantage. We break down how you do that — full marketing kit included.
Selling opportunities might be trickier to find this back to school season — on the surface, at least — but knowing exactly where to look for them has the power to transform everything. And part of knowing where to look is knowing who to ask.
When it comes to school communities, decision-makers can be found in two different circles. There are the administrative decision-makers, the people employed by the school, and then there are the volunteer decision-makers. The parents who want what’s best for their kids, and do everything in their power to make it happen.
The Parent Teacher Organization is the intersection of these two groups: where paid employees and volunteer parents meet in order to generate the best plans, capabilities, and offerings for students. This organization is where decisions are broached, fought for, and made. It’s where practicality meets passion meets means of protection, and it’s where you need to be focusing your sights.
Because once you have the teachers on board, and once you have the parents on board? Well, it’ll be smooth sailing — directly to your closed sales.
But let’s back up. First, we’ll go over what the pitch you should be making even is — and how to get PTO’s just as excited about it as we are.
The Revolutionary Pitch
Schools are used to selling their spirit wear a certain way — because they’ve never been pressed to change. Classes have always run in-person, hallways have always been crowded by swaths of students, and the question of hand sanitizer has never before made its way into district board meetings.
But now, things are different. Everything has changed, with little warning and almost zero preparations done. The notion of selling spirit wear — how it will be done, whether kids will buy it — is a notion that’s not exactly squeezing itself into the district board’s agenda. Obviously, they’re dealing with far more pressing practicalities.
But that means that the notion belongs to this industry. That means that it belongs to you.
It’s yours to answer, yours to frame, and yours to revolutionize — so it’s time you get to work, using your extensive capabilities to make spirit wear a sought after possibility this year.
(And not just a possibility, but a reality.)
If we remove physical space and in-person buying from the equation, we’re left with what many of us have already become accustomed to this year — relying on e-commerce. But that’s absolutely not a bad thing, or a hindrance, or a barrier to entry.
If anything, it’s the opposite. It’s a great thing, because it offers students (and teachers, and families) the chance to buy into community-minded spirit wear through a buying experience that they have complete control over. It’s a time-saver, because it streamlines the administrative, transactional, and other backend processes that otherwise would’ve needed to be tended to by a paid employee. And it’s a barrier-to-entry remover, because it opens the doors for accessibility up wide — there are no limits on when someone can shop, no limits on where they have to be physically located, and no limits on who can be made aware that the shop is open.
But we’ll get into marketability later — for now, let’s dive into the e-commerce platform itself: the Online School Store. Here’s what it offers:
The Online School Store is housed in a custom, InkSoft-powered site that can be personalized with copy, graphics, and media — and updated at any time. This furthers each store’s sense of community and works to create a more ‘shareable’ site.
Revolving Door of Offerings
New spirit wear products can be added to evergreen Online School Stores at any time, replacing old ones — or simply adding to them. Whether there’s a new seasonal theme, a special event, or a fundraising initiative, this platform makes it easy to make changes throughout the year.
Safe, Secure, & Easy Shopping
The online store couldn’t be simpler to navigate, and all transactions made through it are guaranteed secure. This means the buying process is quicker, easier to complete, and safer than an in-person store would be.
Anybody can enter the online store, look around, and buy — at any time, from any place.
No more administrative demands, and no more distribution mishaps — by switching to Online School Stores, all organizational, transactional, and inventory-related processes are streamlined and taken care of.
So it’s pretty clear that, when we combine those capabilities with the importance of giving kids spirit wear in today’s world, Online School Stores are a definite win. We see it, you see it, and parents and teachers everywhere will see it too.
Because like we said: PTO’s and the people inside them are working — often tirelessly — to get what’s best for their kids and their students to them. Spirit wear is what’s best for them, because it increases a feeling of support, of belonging, and of community, at a time when those things are needed most. And this is a clear, surefire way to get that spirit wear into their hands.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the features of Online School Stores that make the pitch truly wow-worthy. First, let’s examine relevance: no matter what part of the continent schools are in, kids and educators are well-aware of the public health crisis unfolding.
So how about we produce some knockout, high-spirit product offerings that speak right to it? We’re talking custom face masks and personal protective equipment, branded hand sanitizer, no contact keychains, and even a UV Phone Sterilizer (complete with a wireless charging pad). Not only will these offerings slide into a clear pocket of demand, but they’ll also frame necessary, health-conscious products in a more fun, more exciting light.
And kids deserve excitement this school year. So let’s do everything we can to give it to them.
Beyond updating your offerings, you can also take a look at how you’re actually selling them. We’re talking about fundraisers here, and boy are we huge fans of them.
Custom online store sites have the power to be fundraising sites that — you guessed it — take care of all the fundraising logistics for you (and for your school customers). And, not only can schools clearly display and sell their offerings in the online store to raise money, but they can also use the online stores as their main source of marketing.
Wait — what?
That’s right. Online stores of any kind, when they’re powered by InkSoft, have limitless marketing potential already embedded inside them — which means they’re a marketing material in themselves.
Here’s how it works: the stores can be shared, whether on social media, over email, or over text message, with one click. Students can send favorite products to friends, fundraiser organizers can share the link with their whole Facebook network, and the store can be included in an email sent to school alumni. And none of those marketing strategies require any sort of time or budget — and come with massive reach potential. (And all the brand exposure that comes with it.)
With online stores that can be up and running for any length of time, site messaging that can be changed and changed again, and offerings that can be swapped out or updated as often as your customers would like, there’s endless customization potential — which means there’s endless use potential.
The Final Boost
After you’ve explained all of those perks, and all of those one-of-a-kind opportunities, to your PTO of choice, here’s how you seal the deal.
You remind them that the safety, security, and happiness of their students come first. That they’d do anything to make sure their kids are as mentally sound as they are physically sound, and that a big chunk of that mental wellbeing comes down to their network of support.
To their community.
And regardless of whether their students are going back to in-person classrooms this Fall or not, they should be connected to their peers. They should have links to the co-curricular clubs and organizations that get them excited, and they should have a sense of belonging that doesn’t go away just because of this new social distance thing.
Spirit wear is something that does all of that. Sure, it might seem trivial on the surface — just another t-shirt or hoodie that gets thrown into the closet (or, if they’re teenagers, onto the floor). But it’s not just a t-shirt, and it’s not just a hoodie. It’s a marker — of their network, of their community, and of their belonging.
Spirit wear generates enthusiasm. It generates togetherness. And it generates hope.
Hope that one day, things will be back to normal. And when they are, we’ll all be able to look back at the strangeness of 2020 — and the markers we accumulated during it — with gratitude. Gratitude that we made it out and got back to normal — and still had moments of excitement, of enthusiasm, and of community along the way.
When you’re pitching to PTO’s, make sure you’re grounding your technical capabilities into the emotional backbone of what makes spirit wear so special. Yes, Online School Stores make selling products possible, and yes, they take a load off school administrators while generating higher earnings, but they also put the needs of the students first.
And that’s something PTO’s in every city, in every state, will respond to.
Resources Just For You
We’re so confident that this pitching strategy will work — and land you major sales as a result — that we’ve invested our own time into creating the all-inclusive toolkit you need to make it all happen.
First, there’s the marketing kit for you: it includes the emails you send to your PTO leads. It includes the social media posts you promote the opportunity with. And it includes the messaging you can integrate into your own website, so everyone who visits can see what’s on offer.
Then, there’s the marketing kit for your customers: it includes the emails they share with their entire email list. The social media posts they use to promote the live store. And the messaging they can integrate into their primary website, so everyone who visits can click through with ease.
And finally, there’s the graphics kit: it includes vector apparel designs, clip art, and an impressive array of fonts to get your designs going in the right direction — fast.
So there it is: the complete toolkit. Everything you need to make implementing this innovative sales strategy possible. So what are you waiting for? Prioritize selling through PTO’s this school year — because it’ll land you some incredible results. And because, now that you have everything you need to do it successfully, it couldn’t be easier.
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