Yearbook ads are an important revenue generator for your school. And waiting until the last minute to sell them isn’t going to get the kind of results you’re counting on. To start your season off with a bang, a fall business mixer can generate some buzz and bring some new advertisers into the mix, while building a stronger relationship between your school and the local community. This doesn’t have to be a super time-consuming or expensive initiative, either. Below, I’ll walk you through exactly how to build this kind of business mixer in a way that supports your yearbook ads section, while expanding your connections in the community at the same time!
Find a Location
Your first step in creating a successful fall business mixer is to find a great location. It’s only natural to host this type of event as a happy hour at a local family-friendly restaurant. Talk with the restaurant manager to secure an afternoon date at their establishment. Typically, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to host this kind of networking event. As long as you’re not requesting a private dining space, there shouldn’t be any kind of deposit or consumption minimum, which protects your budget. Plus, it’s often expected that attendees will buy their own food and beverages at happy hour mixers, so you don’t even have to take money out of your budget for this type of event!
Invite Your Ad Prospects
Next, make a list of all of the businesses you want to invite. Look through a city directory or search for businesses online. You can also partner with a local business organization, like the Chamber of Commerce–ask if they have a list of noteworthy business owners who are already involved in the community, so you can find those more likely to buy what you’re selling. To save on cost, use email to send out an invite to your list. Your initial email blast should go out approximately four weeks in advance of your event. Then send weekly reminders to keep your mixer in front of your invitees, and convince them to attend. Your invite should primarily focus on the opportunity to network with other business owners, and secondarily include a note about your advertising opportunity. Mention that the event is being hosted by the yearbook committee, so that people aren’t surprised by the sales portion of your event when they show up.
Sell Yearbook Ads
Set up a table where you can get businesses signed up for ad space as they walk into your event. Include a fish bowl raffle, where individuals can leave their business card. Draw one card at the end of your event and give away a free ad to the winner. To sell more yearbook ads, make an announcement about thirty minutes into your happy hour. First, welcome everyone and thank them for attending. Then give them a little more information on how the yearbook impacts the school, both on a community and financial level. Finally, encourage them to sign up for ad space at your table to support the many youth initiatives that the yearbook helps to support and promote throughout the school year.
As you talk to the attendees at the event, make sure to tell them about the benefits that yearbook ads offer to their business. Because the yearbook is seen by students and parents alike, they can reach a wide audience with a relatively small investment. If you include a list of your sponsors on your email communications, and encourage your campus to frequent sponsors of the yearbook, let the people attending your event know. The more benefits business owners see from their investment in your yearbook ads, the more likely they are to buy. And that can make putting a little effort into building this networking event really pay off for your yearbook (and your school!) in the months ahead.