C. Dow Tate
Developing story ideas
Basic feature interviewing
C. Dow Tate
Hillcrest High School
The Ultimate Goal
To train students in developing a sales strategy for selling advertising.
What you want to teach.
- That advertising is an important community service. Both businesses and customers benefit.
- That designing and selling ads requires professional knowledge and personal preparation.
The questions you'll need to teach them the answers to.
- What is teen spending power? Too often students treat advertising as a donation. Helping students to understand the buying power teens have will aid in creating a sense of confidence in the product they are selling.
- What does an effective ad do? Students need to be taught how to design an ad that creatively sells a specific benefit of the business or product. Simple business cards don't compete in a market where a person encounters 16,000 advertising images in a day.
- Who advertises in school publications? Have students study prospective advertisers. The salesperson must understand the business he or she is trying to sell an ad to. He or she needs to know that a sporting goods store has new school team T-shirts to sell. He or she should be aware enough to know that students are into buying crushed fruit drinks. Information such as what products or services students buy from the area clothing stores, movie theaters and video stores will make the student a valuable ally for the business owner. Knowing who to talk to and what to talk to them about will also put the advertising salesperson at ease.
- What skills and tools does a student need to sell ads?
- What is a sales folder? The sales materials will give the salesperson something to assist in the sales pitch or to leave with the prospective advertiser. Creating the folder will help educate the salesperson.
- How do salespeople conduct themselves? Students should consider dress, posture, eye-contact, diction, mannerisms, and manners.
Ways to teach them:
- Teen spending power. Mini-poll either within the class or on a larger scale (for example, two junior level English classes) to discover how much students spend a month on food, clothes, music. Add the class totals in each of the three categories. Divide the number of people in the class into the total school population; multiply the product times the total amount for each category polled. So if I have 20 people in the class and 1,000 people in the school, 50 would be the product. If the classroom poll found that students spend a combined average of $560 a month then you can multiply that times 50 and estimate that the school has buying power of around $28,000 a month and $336,000 a year. The exercise can give students an idea of the spending power of teens.
- Advertising's power. A five-minute group exercise in which students list as many commercial slogans as possible can help begin or illustrate a lesson on how powerful advertising can be.
- Group and individual projects:
- Profiles. The class identifies information needed for a business profile and agrees on a form. Using the form, pairs of students or small groups develop profiles on three prospective advertisers by researching addresses, type of products or services offered that would interest teens, and current advertising methods.
- Ad design. Students bring from home a product that they use. The product should be available at one of the businesses the class has profiled. Students describe to the class the reasons they use the product and then develop an ad based on one benefit of the product. Responses from the class will help students identify the one benefit.
- Writing and design assignment. Students create a folder of essential information needed for selling ads. Possible materials to include are:
- Sample ads from a prospective advertiser's competitors
- Business card
- Sample of the publication with ad prices labeled
- Sales helpers such as readership survey comparisons between school newspaper and daily newspapers, charts showing student spending power, etc.
- Role playing. The more students practice and role play a sales pitch, the more comfortable they will feel in real life situations. Getting the salesperson to think on his or her feet or to problem solve in the face of a potential advertiser's complaints or rejections are key results of this lesson.
Some sources for learning more.
- Sullivan, Luke, "Hey Mr. Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads," New York, N.Y., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998
- Teenage Research Unlimited website: http://www.teenresearch.com