Follow these tips to promote your ‘baby’

Many of you have produced Michigan State University Extension curriculum or bulletins on subjects near and dear to you. The product has become your “baby” so to speak. You’ve put much time and energy into producing a product you believe in. You want others to benefit from your efforts. However, you’re disappointed to find that sales of the product in the MSU Extension Bookstore are not what you expected. This does happen in some cases. But there are other cases where MSU Extension-produced products are selling well in our bookstore. Often, the product’s promotion may make the difference. I’d like to tell you about three cases in which our MSU Extension colleagues’ efforts in promoting their products have resulted in at least modest increases in sales. All three worked with Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications to develop their products.

RELAX: Alternatives to Anger is an educational series for people who want to manage their anger and stress both at home and at work. It was updated in December 2012 by MSU Extension educators Holly Tiret and Suzanne Pish. Sales of RELAX from the third quarter of 2013 accounted for more than double the total sales of the first and second quarters.

Holly attributed the uptick in sales during that period to the RELAX team’s promotion of the product at the Galaxy IV Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., in September. At the conference, the team distributed postcards advertising the RELAX curriculum that included a brief description, cost, contact information, and the MSU Extension Bookstore and MSU Extension websites. The team further increased product visibility by wearing shirts with the MSU Extension logo and the RELAX  logo at the conference. In addition, the Michigan Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (MEAFCS) provided funds to purchase a booth to promote many MSU Extension programs.

Holly said, “We didn’t just sit at our booth. We walked the exhibitor booths, and people kept asking us what RELAX on our shirts stood for. We ended up having to carry postcards with us to give to people as we walked around visiting other vendors.”

Sales of RELAX outside of Michigan accounted for a third of all sales. Holly attributes that to national exposure through the Galaxy conference and participating in the exhibitor hall. The curriculum also received National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) national, regional and state awards further increasing awareness.

“The fact that we were a part of the professional organization helped us reach a much broader audience of potential customers,” said Holly.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll tell you about two other curricula that our colleagues have successfully marketed.

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