Why You Should Have a Trade/Vocational School Marketing Plan

by | Oct 19, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter
With the shortage of skilled workers today, the trade/vocational schools are making a comeback and there’s a great opportunity for you to do some grass-roots marketing to future tradesmen.
Many leading brands come to mind (Ridgid and Klein Tools) that have been built by using these schools as a starting point to get their tools in the hands of future users.

Manufacturers need to have a formal program that helps educate these new tradesmen. Sample tools, training on how to correctly use the tools and guest lectures are just a few ways to get into the game. Trust me, the schools and instructors would welcome the help.

Discount programs for newly graduated students are a great way to insure that they are using your stuff and to get your local distribution partner involved.
If you don’t know where to start, we did the legwork to identify more than 20,000 vocational programs at schools all across the United States, so that you don’t have to. All you have to do is download it.

Here are seven different ways you can use our database:

  1. Build your network. Locate the programs in your area, and connect with the folks that run them. You never know when having a connection in those training programs could be beneficial.
  2. Become a resource for them. Offer to send someone from your organization to speak to a class or volunteer to host a facility tour—the next generation of tradespeople won’t be able to be trained properly without support from the industry.
  3. Hire their students. Use the programs in your area as places to recruit skilled employees, co-ops, interns or apprentices.
  4. Supply them. If you offer a product or service that’s of use in a training program, supply these programs. Either through donations of your products or heavily discounted equipment, students will be more likely to use the equipment they’re familiar with from school once they get into the workforce. This grassroots strategy has long-term benefits; an ongoing relationship with a vo-ed program will provide exposure for you for each new class.
  5. Learn them. Get to know the next generation better. Millennials as a generation seem to frighten marketers and managers, but there’s no reason to be scared. Millennials are bright, technologically inclined and learn quickly; the sooner you engage with this young talent, the better.
  6. Get your distributors involved. Your distribution network can amplify your efforts to combat the skills gap. They can reach into areas far from your headquarters and help train the next generation.
  7. Share. Please share our list with anyone that it may help, whether it’s a colleague in the industry or someone who is looking for a rewarding career path.
I’d suggest you work closely with some of your better distributor partners in the areas where the schools are. Get your sales force involved whether they are direct or independent reps. Most programs that I see work have part of the salesman’s compensation be tied to school activity.
Invest in your company’s future as well as our counties.

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