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Friday, August 14, 2009

Elihu and Marketing

I get to be involved in many of the "behind the scenes" aspects of Sonlight, like taking part in what "the powers that be" discuss. So, when I give you an "insider's view" it could be from deep behind management lines.

But sometimes, when replying to one of my dad's emails, I feel a bit like Elihu: Just some kid piping up with my ideas.

I don't know if you've ever seen one of my dad's emails, but they can be epic. I got a few my senior year of college right around finals, and I'll merely say that more pages of reading was not what I was looking for at that moment.

But I've discovered I can dish out in similar fashion.

Like this morning.

My dad wrote the second part of an email series--yes, he writes email series. Doesn't everyone?--that discusses a book he's been reading about companies that fail. And I replied, pointing out some of the areas that I think are weak in how we communicate with Sonlighters and those who should be Sonlighters.

And I want to share my thoughts with you. Why? Umm... because I think it's interesting and gives you a glimpse into some of the things we talk about. So, here's what I think we should focus on when telling people about Sonlight:

What Sonlight gives you is everything you need to stay "on the field" one more year (be it overseas on a mission field or homeschooling in your living room). The Sonlight experience is the joy of a box full of everything you need and then having your kids beg you to start learning together now. ...a joy that continues for the rest of the year and into the next.

The rest is how we get you there: Great books, fantastic IG, customer support, and a guarantee so you can find what's perfect for you and your family. And, to make the deal even sweeter, and help you even more, we've thrown in a few bonuses: 10% discounts, free shipping, and the Forums.

I believe we need to flip our marketing on its head: We've been starting from the wrong end (the icing) and working down toward the cake. We need to tell people about the cake first, and then move up toward the icing.

Well, what's your experience? What was the most helpful/encouraging/informative thing someone ever told you about Sonlight? What are the things that you've read in Sonlight's marketing materials that have made you wonder, 'What's that doing in there?'

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father


Robin E. said...

But what do you perceive as the cake and what do you perceive as the icing? Do I correctly deduct that you consider the "everything you need" part the icing and the books and IG the cake? Then yes, I agree that Sonlight marketing of the "everything you need" wouldn't have been effective to bring me to Sonlight. A lot of companies offer homeschoolers "everything you need". The difference with Sonlight is the books. I don't know of a single other company that offers "everything you need" that isn't textbook/workbook based.

Karen Joy said...

AAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!! I posted a huge, huge comment, and it got lost. Dumb Blogger and its error codes; like that's really helpful. Grr.

Things that sold me on SL: The IGs (that everything was scheduled out), and the "27 Reasons NOT to Buy Sonlight" which showed me that SL fit with my educational and religious mindsets. Educational: very parent-involved, but not heavy on projects or crafts. Religious: Christian but not dogmatic nor denomination-specific.

Also, SL was introduced to me by a PERSON who said, "I think this might be a good fit for you," and she was right.

I think SL needs to market in non-homeschooling markets. IOW, to reach those who might be considering homeschooling, but who don't know that homeschooling mags or curric fairs even EXIST. And, on the individual sites of states/counties/districts who have a packet or website of hs'ing info. Like this:

Also, why does SL not sell through CBD? I know MANY homeschoolers who use their catalog and website as their ONLY resource for curric and supplies. You'd greatly expand your customer base if you sold through CBD, even if your offerings through them were limited.

All that said, I don't think SL *is* a perfect fit for everyone, and I don't think you should waste your time marketing to people who don't fit SL's goals -- like those who ONLY want a Classical education, or those who ONLY want a computer-based curric.

Luke Holzmann said...

Robin, ...hmm... looking back, yeah, that post wasn't very clear. Sorry! I said more in my email than just that. Interesting thought, and thanks for the feedback. I'll keep that in mind as we continue to try to figure out how to tell people about what we offer in a way that helps them decide if we're right for them. Thank you for your insight!

Karen, I'm so sorry you lost your comment. That's frustrating! But thanks for taking the time to write it up again.

And, yes, people telling their friend about Sonlight is huge! That's why we started the Rewards Program <smile>.

Thanks for the link to the .pdf! That is a great idea and I've passed it on and see if we can get moving on that soon.

As for CBD... I'm not totally sure why. I'm starting some conversations about that as well <smile>.

And I agree: Sonlight is not for everyone. Hence the 27 Reasons Not to Buy.

Thanks again for taking the time--twice--to share your thoughts. Very helpful!


Heather the Mama Duk said...

The most helpful thing anyone ever told me about Sonlight was how to figure out the catalog to decide what I needed to buy!

Luke Holzmann said...

Heather, we're always working to make our catalog better and more helpful <smile>. Any insights you have are most welcome!



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Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
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