Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about planners, and how with some PLANNING and STRATEGY, a well-designed student planner can go VIRAL with your target audience.
First and foremost, it allows you to start bringing in some cold hard cash sooner, rather than later. But you can also use it to test an idea before you invest.
Sounds good, right?
Well, I want to tell you about one of my star clients, Ginny.
Ginny Horan is a college professor in the US with 20 years of experience teaching college students. She wanted to create a student planner that focused on their happiness and mental well being as WELL as effective time planning and organisation.
Her plan was rooted in the most up-to-date research coming out of Harvard on HOW students absorb and retain information. She wanted to put that research into action with a carefully designed, but also trendy and appealing, student planner.
She had tested her idea out the previous year with a simple, homemade “beta” product. So she knew her idea worked and knew what she wanted her layouts achieve, but didn’t know how to get her planner professionally designed, manufactured, or – crucially! – into the hands of college students. But how DO you make a college student planner? How do you SELL a college student planner?
That’s when we started working together.
Student Planner Design
The first thing I did was introduce her to a great graphic designer. And over the next six weeks they hammered out the details of the visuals. They came up with a modern, cool layout, stylish and user friendly. It even has a unique online interface that students could access by easy-to-use QR codes on every page.
Student Planner Supply Chain
With her print-ready file and a detailed spec in hand, Ginny got a range of prices from printers in China and was able to make an informed decision about which printer to work with. She chose her materials from the colours and options available. Two nail-biting weeks later, she received her samples!
Technical Term Alert! A “spec” is a document that tells a manufacturer exactly what you want them to make. It concisely details the sizes, materials, weights, colours, quantities and every other physical detail that the manufacturer needs to know in order to produce exactly what you are looking for – and give you an accurate price. It saves you and your manufacturer time to have a great spec ready up front!
Getting samples like this meant that she could make some changes and was able to adjust the colours and get her planner exactly right. She also decided to include some cool sticker sheets at this point, to allow users to personalise their planners.
Six weeks later, her first shipment arrived!
How to Start Selling Your Student Planners Yourself
But REWIND A BIT. Ginny didn’t spend that time sitting around doing nothing! First, she got to grips with Shopify, and working together we built her a gorgeous, easy-to-use website using a stylish Shopify Premium Theme. Check it out here!
Then she got to work getting in touch with Facebook groups where she knew she could find her target audience – not the students themselves, but Moms and family members of college-bound kids, who wanted to give them a great gift that would help them in their first year of college.
She didn’t just join and post either, she contacted group admins and ASKED. This boosted the sense of goodwill around Ginny’s posts. And she nearly sold out of her first shipment of college planners before it arrived in the US!
Pitch Your Student Planner To Retailers
At the same time, she started telling retailers about her planner, both small indies and big chains. It was too late this year for any big wholesale orders, but a few placed small orders. She also contacted some people she knew in academia to tell them about the planner—not because she expected them to run out and tell hundreds of students to order them NOW, but to get on their radar for next year. These things take time, especially with big organisations.
Thanks to all this groundwork, she sold out of her SECOND shipment! As the school year had now started, she had to resist the temptation to order the third shipment, so now she is gearing up for the next round in 2021.
Case Study: Student Planner Proposed Solution/Changes
For 2021, she plans to make some growth-oriented changes:
We talked about this a lot, and she decided to be cautious this year and kept her order quantities down. She didn’t want to end up with boxes of unsold planners if it didn’t succeed, even if it meant paying less per unit! However, this caution meant less profit per unit. And that’s okay!
Next year will be very different because now she has that all-important thing – proof of concept.
Case Study: Student Planner Recommendations
2. Wholesale will be a top priority for 2021/2022. This January (2021) Ginny will be pitching HEAVILY to her target list of independent and national retailers. She hopes that more than half of her units will sell at wholesale and that the buying cycle starts in January.
3. Next year she is also introducing a companion journal for effective note-taking, branded pens, and other products, and encourage purchasers of the planner to add these at checkout, increasing the value of each sale.
4. Now that she knows how popular her product is with MOMS of older teens, she is also going to explore a complementary product range suited to THEIR needs too.
Ginny’s hard work and determination have been an inspiration to me along the way and I am incredibly proud of her success!
Case Study: Conclusion
So what does this success story mean for you?
I’ll tell you. It means that you can do it too.
You don’t have to be an industry insider. Nor you have to be a graphic designer. You don’t have to be a digital marketing pro. Ginny was none of these things this time last year.
She learned it with me.
And EVERY STEP of her journey is right there in The Profitable Product Launch. Inside this course I lay out the process of researching, designing, making, and SELLING your product, EVEN if you don’t have a defined idea yet.
Doors open twice a year, but you can get special access at the end of this FREE manufacturing masterclass: