When Lisa J. Mails Elementary School hosted their orientation this year, Clara Wallace, set up a table to promote the school’s yearbook. And for the first several months, she kept her message the same – the features (like two, free custom pages), deadlines and how to order.
Now, as the school returns from winter break, Clara, the chief editor of the school’s yearbook, will begin switching gears.
Instead of focusing solely on the basic messaging, Clara will begin recruiting artwork and other contributions from students. In doing so, she’ll start to incorporate various pieces of this year’s yearbook theme, “Believe, Dream, Inspire.”
We like how Clara has tied together the yearbook theme with her marketing. Doing so helps establish the school community’s expectations for the yearbook (what the theme is going to be, what it is going to look like, etc.) while increasing excitement for seeing a finished product. It’s one of the best yearbook marketing ideas we’ve heard about this year.
Clara answered some questions for us about how she goes about doing this, and we’ll share the Q&A below. Before we do, though, we wanted to share with you the multiple vehicles Clara uses to promote the yearbook:
1. Table at school orientation.
2. Ads and reminders on a-frame chalk sign at front of the school.
4. Email blasts.
5. Mentions in morning announcements and monthly newsletters.
6. PTA coordination.
7. School Facebook group.
Q. How have you incorporated the design/style principles from the yearbook theme into the marketing material?
I do try to style our marketing materials, like the flyers that that go home to parents and email blast graphics, in a fun way using illustrative elements and graphics that I plan on using in our yearbook.
For example, this year and last, I have incorporated a call for art from our students and staff. Last year, it was doodles and this year it will be hand-drawn selfies. The first flyer that goes out near the start of the year advertises the early bird sale. Then, I wait until after the New Year, when we get back from break, to send out our call for art. Our flyers, especially the call for art one, will have theme elements in it.
Q. Why have you done it?
If you have a theme picked out and the art direction for the book, it’s nice to tie the marketing materials in with what’s going in the book. Sometimes, designing one helps in developing the other creative assets, too!
Q. Are there advantages to incorporating the yearbook theme into the marketing material? If so, what are they?
Because the general school community won’t see the yearbook until the end of the school year, I don’t necessarily think that they would know or make the connection that the marketing materials are a sneak peek of the yearbook. But, on the back end, with the staff, having the theme coordinated, it gets the staff motivated and excited.
The more excited the staff is about what they are doing for the school, the more photos we get. And when our staff is on campus taking photos, the kids know it’s for the yearbook, and they end up telling Mom and Dad they need to buy a yearbook.
Q. If other schools and/or yearbook advisors are interested in doing this, where should they start?
If you wanted to integrate the theme with the marketing materials, I think you do need to have your theme in place, at least a general idea of it.
The theme is both the idea concept, as well as the theme style. (Of course, it is not necessary to have both; you could just have a visual theme.) Our theme this year is “Believe, Dream, Inspire” and our style theme is artistic in nature, incorporating student and staff drawn selfies with word and thought bubbles that will have answers to questions we will ask students, such as “Who has inspired you?” and “What are some dreams you have for yourself?”
So, when we return from break, I’ll send out our call for art flyer and use elements like the theme title, word balloons, thought bubbles, stylized quotes and hand-drawn faces.
Q. Is it important to have a style guide in place before you start marketing your yearbook?
You don’t really have to have a concrete style guide in place before you start marketing. If you have the general concept idea decided upon, that’s enough to start. For instance, if your style was clean and modern, you would use modern fonts in your marketing flyers. If you were going for a blast-from-the-past, retro theme, then you’d use retro fonts and elements.
Q. Should marketing material show off the yearbook cover? Why or why not?
I think the cover should be a surprise. For one, you don’t know if something will change, and it’s always exciting to see the yearbook for the first time.
Q. Ah! That makes sense. If you choose not to show the cover, is there anything else you can do to generate excitement with some completed pages?
You could always do a “sneak peek” of one of the yearbook spreads. When you do that, you could remind the community to buy their yearbook and get started on their custom pages.
Q. Do you even need to have a yearbook cover designed to incorporate your yearbook theme into your marketing materials?
No. There are so many other parts of the yearbook that I think are a bit more important to decide on early than the cover. If you have the basic elements in mind, you could use those in your marketing.
With Treering, there are no set deadlines for different parts of the book, so you could literally do your cover last and it wouldn’t matter. I like the flexibility in that. Things change and develop, stylistically and even content-wise.
Last year, I didn’t even think about the cover until January or February. I didn’t know what it was going to be. We had our theme “doodle sketchbook” in place at the beginning of the year, but I let the cover concept develop slowly while we worked on the book.
It wasn’t until after we did our call for student art and I started digitizing the doodles that the cover concept just materialized, like magic. I think, if you think too hard about things that are creative in nature, you can keep the ideas from flowing. Sometimes, it is better to let the creative process take its natural course and good things happen.
We love you, Clara!