How to Sell Caps to High Schools

By Emily Potter on Mar 10, 2017 @ 8:04AM CST

This is the second blog in our education series. A few weeks ago, we looked at the ins and outs of selling promotional caps to fraternities/sororities, college athletic departments, and trade schools.

Today, we’re discussing high schools: public and private schools, PTOs, student council, sports, etc.

Stay tuned, as we dive into elementary schools, preschools, and non-traditional education next week.

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High School

Unlike universities, high schools typically act as a single entity. Especially in smaller school systems, it’s not uncommon to have an individual who is responsible for approving (or even making) all purchase decisions.

Because of this, it can be difficult to start working with a new school or district if you haven’t yet established a rapport with its gatekeepers. Referrals from someone who has an “in” can do wonders to help you kick-start that working relationship.

Have you worked with a coach previously? Do you know someone on the school board? Break out your Rolodex and see if you can make any connections.

Smaller schools will usually have one buyer or decision maker. Larger schools may have one for each department. Try to schedule a meeting with the principal to discuss the school’s buying behavior.

To win that first sale, consider donating a percentage of the total amount of the order back into the school. Reciprocity will win you some faith and goodwill you can cash in on later to obtain more orders.

Once you’ve won their business, consider playing around with fun prints that complement or incorporate the school’s mascot and colors. Send them samples periodically to keep them updated on the latest trends.

Of course, color matching is of vital importance; don’t show up with maroon when the school’s color is crimson.

Private

Private high schools are independently funded through tuition, grants, alumni, or the community. They have their own set of regulations and curriculums with no interference from the government. They typically have smaller class sizes and rigorous admissions requirements.

Private schools are more likely to require student uniforms than public schools. Hats can serve as an add-on or an optional accessory. 

With the price of tuition and the time families are required to commit to fundraising, parents and administrators may or may not be inclined to consider promotional hats as an effective marketing medium. Because of this, it’s important to provide evidence of ROI when approaching this market. 

The average tuition for private high school hovers right around $13,000 per year. In order to provide this type of education, families either have a significant amount of disposable income, they live rather frugally to afford the luxury, or they were provided a scholarship.

Students whose families maintain a comfortable amount of wealth despite tuition fees will be more likely to involve themselves in extracurricular activities. And their families are more likely to make donations to cover activity expenses such as travel costs and promotional merchandise.

Public

Public high schools require no out of pocket costs to parents. They are funded by state and local taxes and subject to government restrictions and curriculums. Public schools are required to provide special education programs to children with learning or developmental disorders. 

Some public schools offer a school store where students can purchase things like pencils and notebooks as well as merchandise branded with the school’s logo or mascot. Find out how you can get your caps in these stores.

Logoed hats make great giveaways for events like orientation and pep rallies.

Many sports and clubs require little to no sign-up fees for public schools. This allows kids who may not have the financial prowess of others to be involved in activities beyond the classroom. 

This means you have more players who need baseball caps and parents who need fan hats.

Booster Clubs, PTAs & PTOs

Booster Clubs, Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), and Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) are groups made up of parents and faculty who come together to serve students. They do things like raise money so a team can attend an out of town tournament or provide snacks and pencils during standardized tests.

These groups can act as a gatekeeper; if you build a solid relationship with them, they’re likely to recommend you and your school-spirited products to other departments within the district.

In this business, relationships are the key to success.

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Clubs & Activities

29% of students are involved in a school club or organization. While there aren’t quite as many organizations in high school as there are in college, the passion and identity associated with belonging is undoubtedly there.

Whether it’s student council, debate club or saving the planet one recycling bin at a time; young people love a good cause. You can also capitalize on events like student government elections by providing caps, buttons, etc.

Use the relationships you make with booster clubs to reach out to school officials and see what needs haven’t been met throughout the district. Then work with them to figure out how branded hats can fill the gaps.

Athletics

Over 55% of the 15 million high school students in the U.S. are athletes.

It goes without saying that branded hats are the perfect addition to any sports team. The players will love them, the fans, the parents; the entire community can get behind a high-quality cap that supports their school and all of its athletic endeavors. There’s a reason they’re called baseball caps, you know.

Did you catch the first article on universities? Don’t forget to check back on Friday as we dive into promotional caps for elementary and preschool institutions. If you haven’t sold into educational institutions in the past, stay tuned to learn about all the opportunities that are out there.

For more information on selling caps into the education industry, order your own Business Development Kit.

Is there a specific industry you would like to see covered by a future kit or blog series? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for updates.

Emily Potter

Emily Potter

Emily is the Content Marketer for Outdoor Cap Co. She holds an M.A. in AD & PR from the University of Alabama and a B.B.A in Marketing. Emily is an avid Crimson Tide football fan. She has a golden retriever named Opie Winston, and a cat named Tide.

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