Market “to” your clients, not “at” them

October 26, 2010

When I answered the phone the other day, the person on the other end was calling from a company I buy from. The conversation went something like this:

Telemarketer: “Dr. Eaton we have a very special offer for you!”

Me: “Oh?”

Telemarketer: (Insert scripted sales pitch here.)

Me: “That sounds pretty interesting. Can you send me some information in the mail?”

Telemarketer: “No, I’m sorry, we don’t send information in the mail. It will only take a few minutes to sign you up over the phone.”

In that precise moment, the sale was lost.

Me: “I prefer to take the time to read over the material first. I don’t sign up for things over the phone. Can you send me information that I can thoughtfully look over and consider in more detail, rather than having to make a snap decision right now?”

(I knew the answer, but I just wanted to clarify.)

Telemarketer: “Really, it will only take a moment to sign you up over the phone, and I can tell you everything about the offer.”

The point? Missed.

The call? Ended.

The sale? Lost.

The upshot? I was a sale, ready and waiting to happen, and they lost it.  I am already a customer. I was interested in the offer. I was very close to saying yes, but didn’t appreciate the “hard sales” pressure tactic, so I declined.

Realize what works with your target audience and what doesn’t. What a sales or marketing company may tell you will work, may not. Find out for yourself. Avoid tactics that are likely to lose you sales because you’ve ticked off your prospective buyer, client or student.

The moral of the story? Market to your clients, not at them.

“Spotlight on Learning” conference

October 24, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of presenting a session on marketing of literacy programs at the Ontario Literacy Coalition’s Spotlight on Learning conference in Toronto. What an amazing event! Not only did the conference bring together practitioners and administrators from a variety of provinces, it was a high-tech, 21st century event. Speakers and participants alike were invited to participate in the conference’s Facebook page. They had their own Twitter hash tag (#spotlight2010).

Best of all, this was one of the few conferences I’ve ever been to where marketing was identified as a key topic or “stream” in the presentations. These folks are cutting edge.

They videotaped all the presentations, so with any luck you’ll be able to watch a replay of the presentation. I’ll post the info on the recording when it’s available.


If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) Please visit my speaking page, too.

Who You Gonna Call? Marketing Isn’t a Solo Sport

October 12, 2010

So many educators seem to think that they have to market and promote their programs all by themselves. Not only is this ineffective and exhausting, it is impossible. Marketing isn’t a solo sport.

Get yourself out of the mindset that you have to do it all yourself. Ask people for help. Ask them to attend your events or give a guest lecture in your class. And if that makes you uncomfortable, ask for their advice, as for suggestions, or even get their opinion.

There’s no shame in asking other teachers, administrators, parents, colleagues, or members of the community for help. Call up a teacher at another school and ask if you can have an inter-school event like a talent competition or speech contest. Partner with the dance teacher in your school to do a lunch time program on Latin dance to promote Spanish language and Hispanic culture.

Even asking, “Could you give me some ideas…?” is a powerful question to start with.

Ask with a smile. Be genuine. People will help.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) Please visit my speaking page, too.


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