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According to US and Canadian government data, over 75 million North Americans between the ages of 5 and 25 are students. They attend over 80,000 schools, all of which have extra-curricular activities, academic awards and faculty and staff deserving of recognition and appreciation.
This means that you, as a digital decorator, have a very large market with needs for personalized and branded products right in your own backyard, and if you have not yet tapped it, you should be. There is a lot of room to be creative here and high demand, as you’ll be primarily providing impulse buys, spirit products, awards and other items that people love. Here is some information and advice to help you get started selling to this customer-rich sector.
Within schools markets are the actual schools and their related organizations (PTAs, athletic teams, extracurricular and service clubs, etc.), and they can be anywhere within the area in which you do business. All of them are potential targets for your business. However, the greatest opportunities exist within high schools (see below), which have a large number of extracurricular activities, students with their own money, parents with money to spend, and a network of parent booster clubs that are involved with the school.
To be successful in this market, you need to understand the landscape, who the players are, what they want and how to reach them. Most schools have little or no money to spend on digitally decorated products.
A realistic opportunity may be to target the support (booster) groups, which typically operate under their own budgets (not controlled by the school system) and typically engage in fundraising activities to support their cause. This is a good place to start in order to gain their attention and create a profitable business relationship.
Specific information about the schools you are targeting can often be found on the web. Most schools now have websites and spending some time there will provide you with contact names within the school, including the support organizations and background information that will allow you to better market your products to a school.
Colleges, middle schools, and elementary schools all provide opportunities, as well. And to some degree, there are also opportunities with preschool and daycare centers. Though they may not be officially part of the local school system, they still offer similar opportunities for selling.
There is a seemingly endless list of products you can make to sell within schools markets, but it's crucial that you understand the differences among the different levels and types of schools you're targeting. For example, elementary schools don't usually offer much opportunity to offer products that focus on athletics. However, there is a lot of opportunity to sell these kinds of items within high school and college communities.
Here is a quick look at some products that are in demand within the elementary, middle and high school sub-markets, as well as for colleges and universities. For a more in-depth look at each of these sectors, download our Making Money Guide - Schools Markets.
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