If your company gathers marketing data from children in classrooms, the Education Reform Bill means you need to be more careful. The bill, which passed in January, restricts marketers from collecting data without the express permission of parents.
That means marketers and business owners alike will have to be more careful what they do in the classroom. "Work with major educational organizations beforehand," advises Peter Grunwald of Grunwald Associates, a Burlingame, California, market research firm specializing in children and education markets. Once you ally yourself with schools and educators, you can work out mutually beneficial agreements. Point out how your product or service will add value to the school or classroom.
Still, gathering marketresearch in classrooms is a touchy subject-especially with children's advocates. Says Keith Krueger, executive director of the Consortium for School Networking in Washington, DC, "Businesses wanting to operate in the classroom need to uphold the gold standard in terms of protection of data." That means meeting and exceeding government regulations, and making sure schools and parents are comfortable having your business in the classroom.
And the Winner Is . . .
Can a cool contest promote your business? It just might, as Dick and Penny Scheller, owners of the Tannenbaum Holiday Shop in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, found when they challenged their customers to take the Tannenbaum trademark green shopping bag with them to exotic locales and send in photographs of it. The most interesting photo won a $500 shopping spree in the store, and the Schellers counted a 5 percent increase in store traffic and sales (which were in the high six figures to begin with).
"Consumer contests need to cut through a lot of clutter to work," says branding and contest expert Robin Fisher Roffer, founder of Big Fish Marketing in Los Angeles. "The prize has to be a real grabber, and the means to entry should be easy."
When holding a contest for business clients, keep the contest window short (as in a week or two) and make sure the prize builds your brand and is exclusive. Before beginning any contest, however, be sure to enlist a lawyer to look over your rules.
At a loss for creative ideas? Spur interest in your business by having customers name your latest product, or try a brand-building exercise à la the Hallmark Channel's "Find Your Roots" contest, designed by Fisher Roffer for the 25th anniversary showing of Roots. Viewers were invited to write a 250-word essay describing their own roots; the prize was a 50-person family reunion themed to the winning family's heritage.
Whatever you choose, says Fisher Roffer, "Make a big deal about who won, and publicize it!"