If you own a business, and you’d like to encourage homeschoolers to buy your services or products, here are some tips to help you understand your target demographic:
1) Get to know the community. Do not assume you know what homeschoolers “need”. The needs of homeschoolers are actually much different than parents whose kids are in school. Their perspective on education and life are different. Get involved, hire homeschoolers to work for you (homeschoolers who understand the true diversity in the community), go to information nights, get to know the people in the community. But don’t use them. They see through being used really quickly (and can’t be bought out with praise or product.)
2) Don’t join 400 email lists just to advertise your wares. Even if what you are advertising is something that the community really wants (say, field trips or free stuff). If you join an elist just to advertise, it’ll come around eventually and you’ll lose your credibility. Read the group guidelines carefully, and ask permission before posting information about your product or service. There are many ways to get the information out without trolling the elists.
3) Be honest and up front. Don’t hide who your parent company is, don’t hide your true tax status, don’t try to look like a big company when you are simply two moms doing a business. I cannot emphasize enough how much homeschoolers don’t like being manipulated or tricked. We check up on these things, and when we find that we have been lied to or manipulated, we tell everyone. Word spreads fast in our community. (This is true for good products and companies as well.)
4) If you do make a mistake, or the community finds something they don’t like about your product, don’t go sneaking around and emailing people behind the scenes to “stop spreading lies” about your company. It makes you look bad, needy and unprofessional. Professional businesses don’t try to convince people they are a good company. Instead, they apologize and then take action to rectify whatever the problem was.
5) Homeschoolers are much more responsive to guerilla selling than traditional selling techniques. Things like word of mouth, integrity, good business, a strong platform and down to earth product descriptions draws us in. Flashy and hyperbolic claims of how your product or service will fit perfectly what every homeschooler needs turns us off.
Do you have any other tips for businesses to appeal to the homeschooling demographic?