Last week, the RWS team visited EdCorp Founders in the Pittsburgh area, both inside and outside of the classroom. Over the past year, the Pittsburgh community has grown to 33 EdCorps who offer a variety of products: art classes screen-printing t-shirts, makerspaces sewing stuffed animals, woodshops making handspun pens, and much, much more. The Pittsburgh Community is an inspiring group of educators whose students learn by doing, bringing their ideas to life along the way. While these student-run businesses are in various stages of development, real-world learning is happening every day in Pittsburgh.
A Central Theme Emerged
Each classroom visit elicited the same questions: How do we get beyond just selling to our parents and teachers? How can we market our EdCorp business better? We heard various stories and tips, and are pleased to share them here:
- Carry business cards: Always have cards with you. You never know when an opportunity to promote your business will present itself!
- Regular social media posts: Feature products, comments from customers, and even short videos…there are so many opportunities to share and connect. Be real and consistent!
- Targeted Facebook marketing: Wanting to connect to an authentic audience outside of school walls? Use targeted Facebook ads to focus on specific geographical areas and customer demographics. It’s inexpensive and an opportunity for students to test different strategies, and learn more about storytelling and analytics.
- Craft Fairs and Farmers Markets: A community street fair is a great place to connect with the community. Have fun designing your booth space and creating marketing materials for customers to check out!
- Stuck? Use the Shipping Cards: These cards have ideas that can invigorate various stages of the business-building process. Have a brainstorm session, letting students choose a few cards and putting them in action.
- Make a Video: Let students use their smartphones to create short commercials. Any spare video equipment laying around your school? Create a commercial to post on your website and social media pages! A video is a great way to draw attention to your business and attract new customers.
- Collaborate: With so many EdCorps making different products, there are lots of great opportunities for collaboration and mutual support. Use the EdCorps Slack channel to make connections both locally and beyond.
- Use Your Website: The best way to get your students beyond the school community is by promoting the products on the website (some classes have shipped to all 50 states!) A functional website is a must-have to reach an audience beyond school walls.
“Entrepreneurship isn’t just for its own sake. It’s a vehicle for deeper learning experiences for your students.”
Elyse Burden, RWS Co-founder
Use these new ideas to help your students grow their business through marketing. Remember, it’s not necessarily about how much your students can sell, but about the learning experiences they gain through the effort of creating, marketing, and selling their products in various ways.