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How to Build Participation in Your School Program

Posted: Sep 13, 2017

So, you’ve developed a new educational program. Great! Your hard work is paying off and now you’re almost at the finish line. Your last barrier to success? How will you get people interested enough to participate? This includes parents, faculty members, and students. While this is a tricky road to navigate, we’ve put together a list of ways to build engagement in your school program

Determine the “why”
Think about why you want to get people involved in your program. Are you starting from scratch? Are you building on an existing base? Do you need to attract new participants with a different profile than those already participating? Each of these “whys” is different and may require different, nuanced strategies for recruitment.

Target a niche audience
Start with a smaller target audience—people who would have an interest in your program. Consider job titles to determine if a group will match what you’re looking for. Will they help you accomplish your objectives? Targeting your message to an influential person in the school community, such as a principal or superintendent, can help deliver your message to a broader audience, too.

Create a basic one sheet or marketing flyer
A great way to promote your program is to create an easy-to-read handout. Flyers should explain all the details and benefits of a product or service in a clear, concise manner. You want to get a reaction, so print bold and straightforward messaging that will pique people’s interests. The flyer should be easy for school staff to download and printed in black and white (not all schools have color printers).

Send letters home to parents
If you’re hoping to speak to parents, letters sent home from school provide a more personal touch. Your letter should detail your new program and is a nice way of opening up a line of communication without putting pressure on anyone to respond.

Create an FAQ
A great way to save time and energy is to set up an FAQ page on your website that addresses common questions in clear and straightforward language. Having an FAQ available tends to lessen the number of emails and phone calls your company might receive and is also a quick and proactive way to deliver information to your program users.

Market your program
You’d be amazed at how many great products go unnoticed due to a lack of marketing. Make available easy-to-print flyers that teachers can post around the school and community to build awareness and get people involved, registered, or participating—whatever your goal is. Suggest ways in which schools can spread the word about the product or program, such as writing articles in local and school newspapers and sharing their successes with your product or program on social media.

Hold a brief in-person information session
This 30 minute in-person session held at the school or community center gives you a chance to share the highlights of your product or program face-to-face, while being accessible to address questions and comments.

Bring in the experts
A lot of the time, bringing in an expert, a person from another school who has successfully used the product or program is a major selling point when trying to convince others to participate. Just having one available to the audience shows how credible and reputable you are.

What’s in it for them?
You need to be very clear on what participants will get out of your program. Whether that’s something tangible, practical, or personal, your audience needs to know what they’re getting into and how it will benefit them.

Reassess your plan
How’s it going? Are you seeing the uptick you expected? It can be a slow build. After a period of time, step back to reassess. Identify any issues your program may be having with regard to participation. Are you incentivizing enough? Are there barriers to registration? Pick up the phone to call some of the early adapters to see how you can help make things easier for others. Make adjustments as needed.

Building interest and participation in a school program is hard work. It might even be harder than crafting the program itself. However, with the right tools and methods at your disposal, you’ll be gaining the right attention in no time.

Over the past 40+ years, MMS Education has helped organizations like yours successfully launch programs and products in schools. Let us help you! Call us today at 866–382–6116 or fill out this form.

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