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How to Sell Educational Resources?

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Linguine, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. A friend of mine, who is a veteran teacher now in semi-retirement, has spent a great deal of her own time and money producing a pack of coursework for teaching all the popular modern languages at primary level. There is every indication that the product itself is excellent; it's kind of a comprehensive box-of-tricks, with lots of worksheets, computer activities, colourful art and games and whatnot. Trouble is, she has zero business-savvy and doesn't know how to sell it.

    When she tried to promote the pack to education officials, they tried - by hook or by crook - to get it from her for free. When she tried to partner up with someone with business-savvy, this person also attempted to cheat her. Thoroughly frustrated, she has turned to me, hoping that I will be able to find a way to market it online. She got someone to build her a website already, but getting people to visit it is another matter.

    I appreciate that she is just desperate, so I could hardly refuse to help, but all I can think of off the top of my head is to seek guidance from teachers who have personal experience either of marketing, or of procuring, classroom resources. Do any of you have insight into how this works?

    With gratitude,

    Gordon
     
  2. A friend of mine, who is a veteran teacher now in semi-retirement, has spent a great deal of her own time and money producing a pack of coursework for teaching all the popular modern languages at primary level. There is every indication that the product itself is excellent; it's kind of a comprehensive box-of-tricks, with lots of worksheets, computer activities, colourful art and games and whatnot. Trouble is, she has zero business-savvy and doesn't know how to sell it.

    When she tried to promote the pack to education officials, they tried - by hook or by crook - to get it from her for free. When she tried to partner up with someone with business-savvy, this person also attempted to cheat her. Thoroughly frustrated, she has turned to me, hoping that I will be able to find a way to market it online. She got someone to build her a website already, but getting people to visit it is another matter.

    I appreciate that she is just desperate, so I could hardly refuse to help, but all I can think of off the top of my head is to seek guidance from teachers who have personal experience either of marketing, or of procuring, classroom resources. Do any of you have insight into how this works?

    With gratitude,

    Gordon
     
  3. funambule

    funambule New commenter

    Suggest you put up the website so we can get a proper idea of what it is about.
     
  4. Okay!

    http://www.rescueresources.co.uk/
     
  5. I started selling computer programs for MFL that I had written way back in 1981. In 1982 I set up a business partnership with my wife, and my two daughters joined the partnership when they finished their university studies in 1991 and 1993. The business was a nice little earner, providing me with a generous supplement to my HE lecturer's salary and providing the other three partners with a respectable income right up until 2000.
    Then the turnover dropped dramatically. Teachers had discovered the Web, and the Web to most teachers meant lots of free resources, so they just stopped buying computer software. The partnership is still going, unlike several other businesses operating in the same area - most have now gone bust. Our turnover, however, is now just one tenth of what it was in 2001. My daughters have gone their separate routes, one doing very nicely as a self-employed graphic designer and website designer and the other working for the John Lewis partnership. My wife and I keep the business ticking over - it's still in profit and now that we are both retired we don't need the extra income as we had the good sense to invest wisely in the boom years. A good deal of our income now derives from promoting other businesses' websites.
    We found that the most effective form of advertising - contrary to what we were advised - was direct mailshots to heads of MFL in secondary education and to headteachers in primary education. A simple, colourful, three-fold A4 sheet is enough, conveying the message of what you have to offer. You can find the names and addresses of schools on government websites, e.g. the performances tables:
    http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/performancetables/
    There are also specialist firms that provide a mailing service:
    http://www.schoolsregister.com
    We have our own mailing list of around 9000 schools. It's tagged so that we can target schools that have been good customers in the past. But since MFL became optional beyond KS3 there have been fewer and fewer returning customers. Most of our orders now come from grammar schools, specialist schools and the private education sector. The private education sector buys proportionately many more materials from us than the public sector. Prep schools in the private sector are well worth targeting.
    It's a tough market these days. There are many established businesses to compete with, e.g. Edpax, Linguascope, BSmall, IC language and La Jolie Ronde - and many major publishers. Above all, get to know the competition and then promote what you have that is different.
    This is our partnership site:
    http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk
    It gets hundreds of visits per day, but most people are visiting the areas where I store articles that I have written or where I list links to websites that I find useful. Most people are looking for free stuff - and there is an awful lot of free stuff around.
    It takes time to build up regular visitors to your site. It helps to keep it updated regularly - even just changing the date and nothing else, as this conveys the impression that something new is there and it seems to help your ranking by search engines such as Google.
    Your materials look good!
    Graham Davies
     
  6. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Oh wow Graham, I didn't realise you were behind FrKeys and Fun with Texts! Our school uses both quite a lot!
    I would agree with Graham regarding privately advertising to the Heads of Department. It might seem like a long shot but as a HOD I get all the bits of paper through and if something looks good and is not stupidly expensive I'll keep it in mind for the next budget. I've recently received advertising for French posters that looked excellent and only cost about £3.50 each so I'll be putting an order - I don't think they are a big published but I wouldn't really know anyway. The material looks good and innovative - I like the page where the girl goes to the hairdresser's to get a new haircut, it's really original and refreshing, and I like the drawings as well! It might also be an idea to make the most of the Language Show, although I have no idea of the cost involved in advertising there. Good luck!
     
  7. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    *publisher
     
  8. funambule

    funambule New commenter

    Sometimes I think we are far too precious about publishers; we need to know what is out there!
    Most publishers for MFL are very small; marketing themselves in what is effectively a niche market. Exhibiting at the Education Show/Languages Show/Primary Languages Show is prohibitively expensive for even well-established companies. There will always be a dearth of decent/innovative resources if it is too risky to market them.
    I've been published myself and know it is never about making money; you have to be an enthusiast to even dip your toe in the water!
    Got some good ideas to publish? Tell us about it here!
     
  9. Geekie

    Geekie New commenter

    Please ask your friend to contact me at mflsunderland@gmail.com I'd like to find out more about the resources, especially the KS1 ones, and may be able to spread the word around my LA. [​IMG]
     
  10. Two important points that have come up:
    1. The London Language Show is expensive - and exhausting for the people staffing the stand. Add up the costs of the exhibition fees, travel, hotel accommodation and meals and you have to bring in a lot of orders to cover your costs. It may help get your name around, however. But we stopped doing this kind of thing years ago.
    2. If another publisher takes over your work you can expect a miserable royalty - maybe 10%. The publisher won't necessarily push your materials either. Publishers tend to go with the wind, pushing what already sells. This is why I decided to self-publish many years ago. I reclaimed the rights of a package sold by a major publisher when my contract with them expired, and it became a roaring success - yes, it's was Fun with Texts. The only authors I know who have made a lot of money from sales of their works by major publishers are in the EFL world. I know four who became millionaires and had to seek tax havens outside the UK. One drank himself to death in Monte Carlo.
    I'll give you a free mention on my Favourite Websites page at
    http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/websites.htm
    Contact me outside the forum via my website's contact form, sending me the descriptive text you would like to appear there. My website gets around 9000 unique visits per month.
    We used to sell a lot of materials through agents such as AVP and REM, but AVP have nw gone bust and REM does not appear to be very active these days. You have to offer an agent around 30% to 50% discount on your recommended retail prices.
    One thing you need to make prominent at your website is the price of the materials and how to order them - see my site. Schools usually have to place orders via their own order forms, which they can post, fax or email to you, and they normally pay you by BACS within 30 days. You also need a facility for accepting direct payment. We use PayPal: it's cheap, reliable and fast. We have stopped using fax as hardly anyone uses it these days and most schools now submit orders as PDF files via email.
    Graham Davies
     
  11. I say! Thank you all for your help. I will answer individuals separately where I have questions or comments - seems the best way to do it.
     
  12. Brilliant, thanks - she should be in touch with you soon.

    Yeah, and I don't think it would be any imposition on colleagues to recommend the pack to them - she probably has a good idea of what schools want and can afford so it's unlikely to be a waste of anyone's time. Cheers.
     
  13. Oops!



    @Geekie:



    Brilliant, thanks - she should be in touch with you soon.

    Yeah, and I don't think it would be any imposition on colleagues to recommend the pack to them - she probably has a good idea of what schools want and can afford so it's unlikely to be a waste of anyone's time. Cheers.
     
  14. @Noemie



    I'm not sure whether my friend has been mailing HODs or headmasters; I suspect if it's the latter they're too inundated to give it any time. Also, the head's always look for excuses to save, not spend. :) The product should ultimately save money, but you'd need to read through to realise this.



    I'm glad you like it, and thanks for your help.
     
  15. Graham, it is good to hear from one with such first-hand experience. Thank you for your extensive and considered input, and for your offer of a link on your partnership site.



    As you suggest, I am going to take some time to look at the site and come up with some descriptive text. I will get back to you very soon with that.



    I agree with you that it is easy to source all manner of materials for free online these days, however this particular product is unusually comprehensive and does not require teachers to use up their own printing budgets; there are pre-laminated items, full-size posters, etc. There should be enough there to put it ahead of what one may be able to cobble together for free and self-assemble from free sources. At any rate, it's more convenient and time - and energy - are a valuable resource for teachers. This is the idea, anyway! :)



    We intend to self-publish; my friend has already assembled a little home-publishing suite and will directly contract a printer if many orders come through. I am amazed that the big publishers pay as little as 10%! Derisory! P.S. Neither of us are big drinkers so I guess success would not kill us, heh.



    Okaydokey, well, I'll be in touch!



    Thanks again,



    Gordon
     
  16. Your friend could try approaching some of the education resources catalogues - I would suggest that some of the smaller companies would be better if she has no business experience.
    I know some forum users object to educational resources suppliers who use the forum to publicise their products, but if your friend would like to send me details of the pack, via the contact form at www.wildgoose.ac, I'd be happy to consider it for selection.
     
  17. If you have secondary resources then contact us at ZigZag Education. We are very proactive with marketing resources and will clearly advise you what soft of return you are likely to get based on sales of similar resources. You can see the range of resources we publish already at ZigZagEducation.co.uk.
    You can register on our author support website; short link to it is www.zigzag.at/authors
    Whichever way you go, good luck with your venture.
    Best Regards
    JL Hagger, Commissioning Editor, ZigZag Education
     
  18. Hi, Im not sure how you went getting your resources pubshed and sold but I have been selling resources for sometime now. I have put a few of mine on to myagogy, a website that allows you to uplaod and sell your education resources.
    It is free to set up and proceeds from your downloads are paid directly into your paypal account. Its a good place to test the waters and allows you to advertise your resources.

    the website is called myagogy resources
     

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