Awards & Engraving

January '17

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A&E JANUARY 2017 • a-e-mag.com 27 around May in preparation for the end of the school year. ACADEMIC CONNECTION You know academic institutions are buying. And now you even know what they're buying and why they're doing it. The next step is making sure to take full advantage of the selling opportunity by employing the right marketing strategies for this segment of the awards industry. "Visiting the schools and establishing relationships with the right people is essential," Gross emphasizes. Establishing a contact and providing that person with samples is key to selling and maintaining the relationship. "The best way to make the right connections is to simply call up the school and ask for the person in charge of ordering the awards, then set up a meeting," he adds, noting that face- to-face meetings will most likely lead to a better business relationship. Walsh points out that, other than samples, there is another tool that can vamp up your presentation: catalogs. "The retailer can have copies of these right in their show room for customers to see while they are in the shop," she suggests. She goes on to recommend coupling a physical catalog with a website that con- tains options for certificates, medals, rib- bons, chenille pins, etc., all geared toward the academic buyer. And while face-to-face is more valuable according to all of the sources, Gross also points out the use of the internet as a valu- able marketing tool. "Plan your visit by checking out the organization's website, Facebook page and other resources," he states. A little prep work can go a long way. LONG-STANDING TRADITION As times have changed and the needs of various academic entities have shifted, there is one constant that remains a guar- antee in this market segment: there will always be a buyer for academic awards. "As long as an education system is in place, there will always be a market for academic awards," Barboza points out. And since it doesn't look like education is going away at any point in the future, it remains important to reward achievement in the classroom. But keep in mind you won't get a fair share of the business if you stay stag- nant. Like any other market, academic customers are always on the lookout for something new and exciting. "If clients aren't offered uniqueness, then they are free to shop anywhere," Gross notes. "Be sure to update your designs by keeping up with what's hot with kids." As long as you keep up on your home- work, you're sure to score top grades with your academic customers. A&E

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