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Packaging the Travel Choices : SCHOOLS

Marketing TravelSmart to Schools

To effectively market and engage the school community in any of the TravelSmart School Programs you need to:

Packaging requires highlighting the most appropriate program and tailoring the relevant benefits in your presentation to schools. What's important is the detail you focus on when explaining the key TravelSmart messages, the types of programs and the involvement required by the school community. Here are a few key issues to consider: include:

Creating an Environment for Engagement

You should already be aware of the importance of timing and the necessity to plan. We can't overstress the point that you will be competing for time when you approach staff in schools. The ability to recognize the windows of opportunity is important with school environments. That is why information gathering is continually stressed throughout this resource. Knowing the right time to approach, introduce ideas and address resistance is critical to how much attention you are given. For marketing or promoting ideas it is necessary to aim for their total attention.

Your strategies need to be feasible and realistic to the audience and target group. What, When and How you implement your marketing strategies will determine the level of success in engaging the key decision makers.

Tailoring the TravelSmart School Programs

Tailoring of a message ensures a comfortable fit with the audience. Just like deciding to purchase a garment. If it looks like it will fit and feels good, then there is a good chance it will be tried on. If the garment suits the shape of the person, it is more likely to bought and worn continually. If the garment is well designed and of good quality, continual wear is ensured. To ensure engagement and sustainability with a school, these are the objectives you need to adopt when planning your approach and the best package to promote.

...invent environmentally friendly forms of transport

Initial Preparation - Essential questions to ask yourself:

What am I trying to achieve at each visit?

What am I going to do?

What do I want my audience and target group to do?

Council (School and Local)

It is important to clearly define these points to keep focus on the direction you are taking.

The TravelSmart Message

Which key messages are most likely to fit the size and shape of the school?

Why are these messages the best fit?

How can I present these messages so that the teacher or parent wants to try them on?

School Background

What do I already know?

What do I need to find out?

How am I going to approach this task?

How will I know when I have been successful?

Appropriate Communication

Think of times when someone offering information has impressed you.

More than likely this person used a communication style built on maximizing rapport with the audience and individuals. Attention to the following communication techniques will help you to create and maintain the rapport you need.

Active Listening: Clarifying and confirming details

Empathy: Acknowledging the important considerations for another

Questioning: Establishing the needs of the audience by asking for what is important to them

Presenting Options: Explain examples of how the program may be introduced

Obtaining agreement: Make sure all parties agree to the same plans

Voice: Pitch, Tone, Speed, Volume

Non verbals: Facial expressions and posture matched the verbal messages    

Each school will be individual and as such must be offered information that suits them. If you constantly anticipate and check your strategic approach, you are more likely to succeed. Developing effective techniques will result in increased confidence. This is a very valuable resource when approaching a school.

You may not be the first person to contact the school about TravelSmart Programs. Previous experience with other people in the TravelSmart network may need to be acknowledged. Individuals may have had experience from other schools, work places or within their own community. Their reaction to previous experiences may present issues that require careful handling. The school may also have had experiences with other programs that have influenced their attitude towards external programs being introduced into the school. Dealing with past experiences, resistance and objections requires skill. You may need to negotiate the terms of school involvement required and assertively put forward the requirements for participation.

Your own presentation is also critical. Professionalism is important but a school is not a corporate environment. At the end of a teaching day you may be given 15 30 minutes to present information to a group of teachers in the staff room. You may not be the only item on the agenda. Concise, relevant presentation of the facts delivered in a down to earth manner will possibly be better received than a glossy drawn out power point presentation given by someone in a designer suit. Image should be relevant to a school rather than the boardroom.

Dealing with Resistance and Objections

Separate the people from the issue raised

Acknowledge the concern and its validity to that person

Focus on their interests rather than the issue

Involve different people

Present Options that are realistic and achievable

Check there really is an issue - define the real issue

The TravelSmart Officer role often requires good negotiation skills.

Dropping kits off at school

Qualities of a Good Negotiator

Ability to think clearly and quickly in stressful situations

Ability to be practical

Capacity to concentrate

Ability to act assertively not emotionally

The idea is not to let issues stand in the way.

Hints for Successful Promotions

Hint 1:If you are in a group there will be different personalities involved. Use these different personalities and the power of peer group sharing to your advantage. By involving the group, you are asking them to make a commitment to come up with the ideas. This is essential to the ownership of any changes. To effectively deliver TravelSmart information, it is critical that you know what approach is most likely to be effective for each individual contact.

Hint 2:Identify people who strongly believe in the TravelSmart Messages and /or have had positive experience with a program.

Hint 3:You can get a lot of value from relevant stories and anecdotes. The use of stories can be a powerful tool and really add impact to your key points. Ask others about positive experiences that have come out of TravelSmart or innovative solutions that have been applied to other schools. This has the advantage of proving to your audience that you are aware of factors unique to the school environment.    

Marketing of programs is a skill that requires constant development for even the most experienced TravelSmart Officer. Remember to always evaluate each promotion and learn from the encounter. Again ask yourself:

Share these experiences with others in your network. Discuss what worked well and what will you try differently next time you approach this school or others.