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7 Tips for Marketing Your Student-Run Business

By: Johan Sotelo

Hi! My name is Johan Sotelo and I am an 8th Grader at Sierra Expeditionary Learning School in Truckee, California. I am the Marketing Manager for Jungle Jars Company. Over the summer we were assigned a summer read and this year we had to read A Long Walk to Water, which is a true story about Salva Dut, a lost boy and Nya a young village girl and how they have to walk miles to get water.

In our school we do a Who Am I expedition, each year in middle school. This year our guiding question is Who am I as a Global Participant!? The book and our expedition inspired us to give back to the global community. Our teacher, Tiffany Connolly, decided to start an EdCorps for her first time. Our class was really excited when she told us and so was I. As a class we decided to sell succulents and call our product, Jungle Jars. Jungle Jars Company was born and have sold more than 60 Jungle Jars in two weeks. All of our profits will be given to a non-profit organization called Water for South Sudan to help them buy a new Iron Giraffe (drilling rig) and give us a chance to meet Salva Dut.

1. Create Social Networking Profiles
Social media is the best way to get customers from all around the US. Start by creating all your business pages and profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other networks you would like to use. Use your business email so others can access the account. Once your profiles are all set up, make sure you update your accounts and respond to customers’ comments or questions as soon as possible. The best way to attract customers is to post pictures of students working on the products and posting high quality pictures. Before you ever post anything on social media have 1-2 friends check for spelling and grammar errors and get your teacher’s approval to post.

2. Consider Advertising on Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads are a great way to promote your company. Facebook ads are a low cost way to reach lots of people that may have an interest in your product. Facebook gives you three options when promoting; Promote your website, promote your page, or boost a post. If you just started your business I recommend creating a “We’re Open” post and boosting it for at least $10-20. It is simple to promote and boost. Just scroll down to the blue promote button on the left side of your screen and choose your promoting option. I find it best to promote your website at least once a month for $7 which should get you 238 clicks in 7 days. Once you select your option, complete the 5 sections, and click on “promote”. You’re done! Your website, page, or post are being promoted.

3. Send a Newsletter Blast to the School Community
Sending a “[Your Business name] is now open!!” newsletter to your school community gets parents to buy your product and share with friends and family. Before creating your newsletter ask your school administrator if they would send it out. If they say yes, create! I recommend using MailChimp or Constant Contact. Include a picture of your products, cost, where the money is going to, your website URL, and your mission statement/slogan. Once you finish, get it approved by your teacher and send it to your school administrator so they can send it out.

4. Create a Hashtag
Create a company hashtag. It can be your business’ full name or a simple abbreviation. Put hashtags on your social media posts and make sure to also tag your school, donor recipient, EdCorps and Real World Scholars. Some hashtags you could use could be: # [your hashtag] #studentsrun #EdCorps @RealWorldScholars # [your product] # [Your Town/City] #RWS. Also tag your local news or radio and see if they will repost or promote your product. Tell your customers to post a picture of the product when they receive it, and tell them to use your hashtag! After customers post, like the picture and share it on your social media page for people to see how others use your product.

5. Get Marketing Materials

Get flyers, rack cards, collector cards, stickers, business cards, thank you cards, as many things as you can get. Make rack cards and put them up in local businesses; the more businesses the better. Collector cards are small 2.5″ x 3.5″ cards that includes a picture of your product, mission, company name, background, and your website URL. These are great to send home with students! Another good idea is to make a small “Thank you for supporting our student-run business!” collector card to put inside their package.

6. Host an Assembly for the School
Hosting an all school assembly to teachers and students about your business gets the school community excited. Students ask their parents buy your product and teachers spread the word to their friends. In your assembly, talk about your business, how it started and where the money is going. A recommended format for an assembly is to have a greeting, then talk about your donor recipient and what they do, talk about your company, have an activity related to your donor or company, and finally have a discussion. This way the school feels involved.

7. Finally…Make sure everything looks professional!