To increase Paperight study-material sales (and better understand our copy-shop partners), we decided as a team to individually adopt a registered Paperight copy shop and try to partner them with a local school. The aim was to test various methods of promotion (specifically to parents of high school students) and to simultaneously build close relationships with a small batch of copy shops that would ultimately become Paperight Premium Outlets in future. For more on that, read Yazeed’s entries.
Despite our best intentions, this project did not come together according to plan.
One of our major in-house hurdles has been finding the time to get out of the office, to spend time in our adopted copy shops, as well as visiting local schools on their behalf. We managed to find time to do so, but not easily and certainly not as often as we should have done.
Once we had identified schools to visit, we submitted briefs to Nick for personalised promotional materials. Specifically, we took posters and flyers to the schools highlighting educational materials (past exam papers, study guides and textbooks) available through their local Paperight registered copy shops, emphasising the copy shops’ competitively low pricing. The materials themselves were succinct enough to avoid confusion about how the Paperight/copy shop partnership works and the flyers doubled as ordering forms to cut down on the necessary steps to make a sale.
Once the posters and flyers were printed, we liaised with school secretaries for permission to bring them onto school campus. The posters were placed in obvious places, such as in the secretaries’ offices, in entrance lobbies, near school shops and near matric classrooms. Similarly, the flyers were given to matric class teachers to hand out to students in registration class.
more often than not the copy shop managers were either unwilling to do so or too busy to do so
Each team member managed to make the beginning steps to build the relationships, but we all found that we needed our chosen copy shops to really step up to sustain the partnership. However, more often than not the copy shop managers were either unwilling to do so or too busy to do so.
Apart from this, we found that our promotional materials led to only small spikes of sales. I believe this is directly related to the materials being present on the schools’ campuses and not visible enough to the students’ parents. I’m also quite sure that students made paper airplanes out of the flyers rather than giving them to their parents. The kinds of students who ultimately ended up in store buying past papers and study guides were typically the kind that did not need a flyer or poster to discover Paperight because they’re particularly proactive with regards to their studies. This failing on our part informed our marketing efforts that became the Matric Exam Campaign.
This project did not intend to change the schools’ official book purchasing protocols, but instead aimed to turn parents over to using Paperight . Ultimately, parents are the ones who have the most invested in their child’s success and it was on this personal interest that we hoped to ignite support for the Paperight project.
If I could pick out one overarching lesson learned from all this, I would say that the principal of any school sets the benchmark and with their support of a new initiative or supplier, the rest of school will fall into line. This has been proven by Yazeed’s wonderful work with Pelikan Park High School. Despite the difficulty of building a strong relationship like this, the rewards are manifold and certainly worth the work put it. More relationships like this could carry Paperight well into self-sustainability.