Custom Printed Promotional Items for the Education Industry

Whether your organization is a sponsor for a back-to-school initiative or you are an educational institution with a full event calendar, custom printed promotional items can prove to be an excellent way to encourage a sense of spirit among faculty and student bodies. Schools and other complementary institutions in the education sector can effectively exploit the benefits of attractive branded items that appeal to students and younger target audiences.

Any marketing expert will agree that the young demographic is vital to every promotional plan considering the surge in their capacity to spend. Just the age group between 8 and 21 years is believed to hold the spending power of approximately 2 billion dollars a year.

The education sector is among the high ranking industry verticals that invest regularly in promotional merchandising. Items such as water bottles, sweatshirts, promotional bags and promotional lanyards are a perfect tool to promote loyalty for one’s own institution.

Consider the following figures; every year, there are about 50 million students that are being registered into public elementary and secondary schools all over the United States. In addition to this, private schools enroll over 5 million students. Now take into consideration the reach your promotional merchandising initiative can achieve when your items imprinted with your logo and customized branding are utilized in public by these students and teachers and, on several occasions, even by their family members.

This wide range in target reach makes custom printed promotional items an effective tool for advertising and spreading the intended message for your educational institution. Items such as promotional lanyards not only pose high utility value for students but also provide an effective platform to subtly promote your institution. They can be easily worn around the users’ necks and are useful in school events such as athletic tournaments or for identification purposes while on campus. Promotional merchandising is also extremely effective when your school is initiating fundraisers such as bake sales and car washes to raise money for field trips or sports teams.

Distributing custom printed promotional items such as promotional bags is an excellent way to foster loyalty towards the education institution among existing students as well as alumni. This in turn is believed to have a positive impact on the students’ academic performance as well as on their motivation to represent the school or institute in extracurricular activities.

If planned correctly, the right range of custom printed promotional items is likely to be maintained and displayed by your students with great pride for years to come.

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Timing The Market In The Early Education Industry

In every economic cycle and in every industry, there are always people who believe that they can predict the future. Usually it is because they have experience with a business model that’s been right at least once. This authority will point to their example of being right without discussing how many times they have been wrong, and they will explain that you’re safe if you trust them. From investment banking to preschools, it has been my experience that very few people have this gift. Most business models built to predict the future are flawed somewhere, usually in the assumptions made about the very foundation of the model.

You know what isn’t flawed… the present. In the present, the following is occurring in the early education vertical:

1. Currently, buyers are paying the highest prices for childcare companies, preschools, Montessori schools and private elementary schools since 2006-2007.

2. In negotiations, buyers are giving up substantial extras that have not been given since before 1995.

3. Sellers are retiring with bigger paydays than they thought possible.

4. Banks and other lenders are lending money at break-neck speed again.

Here’s why it’s occurring.

1. Fewer centers and schools are available. During the “great” recession banks were taking centers and schools just like houses. Our industry was “thinned”.

2. Material cash flow is difficult for buyers to find. Many early education companies that survived have returned to smaller profits. While many of us fondly remember the time before the latest crash, it is simply unlikely to impossible for some centers and schools to return to pre-recession profits. For these schools, the area economic conditions left in the wake of the recession simply cannot be fixed in the near term… maybe not for a generation or two.

3. Investors from private individuals to equity funds invest in early education companies, and they want to see a growing return on their investment. The fastest way to grow early education companies (whether they own five schools or 500) is by the acquisition of other centers and schools… and generally speaking, investors are not patient when waiting for a return on their investment.

4. Many owners of early education companies have been holding back and choosing not to sell because… A. We fear that we won’t have enough money to retire comfortably, and/or B. We’re paralyzed by the thought of another painful recession.

The seller with profits has the new golden ticket in today’s environment. No one can tell you when the time is right for you to sell (or not sell) your early education company. But as time and experience has taught many of us, opportunities aren’t as plentiful as they once were.

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How To Avoid Lawsuits In The Early Education Industry

Lawsuits in the United States are sometimes referred to as an epidemic. I’ve seen many lawsuits in our industry, and I’ve been asked to serve as expert witness in many of those cases. While it’s true that anybody can sue anybody, many lawsuits can be avoided. Here’s the how and why of some of our industry’s most popular litigation issues.

1. See Your Students-Whenever possible, look at the children as they enter your school. Say good morning to your parents. There was once an exceptional school built to provide early education for kids who otherwise had no chance at high quality early education. The people who founded the school had to chase the drug addicts out of the empty building so they could create the school. They created, opened and filled the school. The kids had uniforms so everyone was equal, and teachers were teaching. One morning, a parent drops off her son and exits the building quickly. Her son had been burned by what appeared to be an iron. She sued the school and claimed that one of the school’s radiators burned her son. It hit the news cycle. The school was gone before they could get to a courtroom verdict. We were called in to sell the remnants. You can be right and still lose. You have to protect yourself.

2. Don’t Provide Opportunities for the Opportunists-Sometimes parents fall on hard times. Most of us find a way to work it off, but sometimes people look for a shortcut. We’ve seen lawsuits filed against schools for…

Woman in high-heeled shoes turns ankle walking back to car on level parking lot.
Comments about an employee’s clothing.
Boy puts gravel in nose.
Child falls on playground.
Child bites child.
Child hits child… and child hits child back.
Slip on juice.
Playground fence unsafe.
These lawsuits are usually settled for the lower end of the $500 to $2,000 range, but they’re still a drain on your time and energy.
3. Sexual Harassment-While sexual harassment cases aren’t limited to men harassing women, if you’re a man working in this industry make sure you stay away from anything in this area. Unfortunately, a simple and genuine compliment can be used against you and your company if the wrong person is on the receiving end. In a meeting with an attorney, I was told of a case where four or five women sued the owner of the company for sexual harassment after working together for years. Apparently, it was all good-natured joking. They were well into the lawsuit when the owner found and submitted several cards (birthday… etc.) containing sexual comments from these same women. The company won the lawsuit, but it costs tens of thousands of dollars and several long-term employees. Be polite and professional. Skip this whole experience.

Some lawsuits are legitimate and necessary. Many are not. These lawsuits typically happen because parents or employees see an easy payday, and their attorneys see the same thing. For some attorneys, even if they know they can’t win, they’ll try to force some minor settlement if there is anything that looks like discrimination, harassment or neglect. For most people in our industry, these issues will never be a material problem. Be disciplined and professional on a daily basis. Everything should be fine.

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The iPad Revolution in Education Industry

Apple products are innovative as well as technologically advanced, take for instance the iPad it is now not only a source or entertainment but a lot more. iPad has changed the perception of users and has emerged as an essential mobile gadget that is useful as well as informative. Interestingly this gadget is successfully known to establish its presence in the most eminent industry, the education industry.

The iPad is now used by students to enhance their learning ability, make improvements in their test scores and providing the best medium for interactive learning. This means that not only a lot of available content can be utilized to the benefit of students but it also gives a chance to reduce the burden of backpacks from young shoulders. Let us look at how iPad has changed the way students seek education.

iPad Vs Textbooks

The best thing to happen to students is the introduction of iPad as an education tool. This facilitates a student in many ways, for example in unburdening them from textbooks. The biggest challenge that comes with textbooks is that it becomes outdated soon. The content has a limited shelf life, this is what makes a huge difference in learning experience. Year after year students have to go through the same old course content whether it is useful or outdated. Another thing is that it is relatively expensive to produce textbooks, this is what makes them costly. There are textbooks that are as costly as or more than $100. Now taking in account the cost if a student has to purchase six different course books then the amount can easily reach up to $600. The only solution seems to be accessing e-books via iPad.

iPad is easily available at $329, additionally education discounts are already available for Macs. One might be able to utilize $999 iMac for educational purpose. Not only there is financial freedom but also freedom to access updated content. iBooks provided by Apple play a major role in providing updated course curriculum and one can easily access e-books at all levels.

iPad for Students and Teachers

Lugging around the heavy textbooks to school or college is something that has long been the trend. One has to carry the load either for class assignment or for homework. With iPad, the load of textbooks is eliminated. The best thing about this device is that it is light in weight, ultraportable and easy to use. A student can easily complete homework assignment and learn through interactive medium. For teachers, it is easy to carry notes instead of textbooks or binders. A good example is a classroom sans paper usage, just the idea that Jackson Christian School has adopted. Students carry iPad and teachers rate their students’ tests on iPads.

Education Outside Classrooms

The learning curve of each student varies and the manner in which one learns is different from another. The rigidity of the education system is that it is not made to suit individual student needs. What is good for one may not be for another. The tool of choice is what makes all the difference and with iPad, all is possible. Now a student has the choice to how, when and where when it comes to learning. Creating an app that enables in customized learning based on individual needs is something that is added advantage. Until then students can get in touch for more guidance on specific topic, even outside classrooms and form a collaborative medium to understand better. Teachers can provide guidance using iPad via video chat or other media useful to get the message across easier.

Conclusion

Utilizing modern means of spreading education that is better, faster and more interactive with added advantage of updated curriculum is what iPad is all about. Adopting this mobile device for the purpose of acquiring education and turning on to this medium of education is beneficial to all. iPad app is as useful in enabling activities like annotate PDFs, taking notes and in recording lectures.

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Live Chat Software for Education Industry

Everyone seeks help when they land on something new and unknown to them. Learning and help go hand in hand everywhere. You cannot imagine a day when you haven’t learnt a new thing without seeking help from someone. Education is one such business, where you study and learn with the help of your teachers and facilitators. Nowadays everything is going digital and modern, even education had the impact from this internet savvy era. Students now study online with a variety of educational related material in the form of e-books and online tutoring websites. Off course sometimes, like a real-time class, they need to talk to a resource person who can help them with their run-time questions and queries. In other words students who seek online help and guidance for studies also need a dedicated person or online tutor who can help them.

The solution is simple and trusted the use of effective and reliable live chat software for education-related websites and portals. Good live chat software normally provides all the necessary facilities and advantages that you need to serve your customers. It provides you full support in terms of automatic chat routing, chat conversations save feature, multilingual support, complete content management system and database. You can also get tailor made live chat software according to your educational portal needs. One of the key benefits can be that students will tend to get their education related queries being answered in no time.

The mechanism will be that students will get the answer to their questions from an expert teacher who is using good live chat software to chat with the visitors. Through the chat conversation saving facility you can also reproduce the chat at later times to recall the questions and answer them better because sometimes it needs time to understand and suggest a solution to the problem. A more interactive conversation means better understanding for the students and ease of use for the teacher as well.

Due to the multilingual support feature for most of the live chat software applications, you can also provide answers to students asking questions in any language. So the language barrier is also gone now as far as learning is concerned. In case you have a huge educational portal where lots of students come in and ask questions, where a strong live chat software is required to withstand the chat load of visitors, you can depute as many chat operators as you want. A good database to store chats also allows you to save as well as make use of all the chat conversations for references.

In short, like many others benefits, live chat software can also help teachers as well as students eliminate the physical barriers to impart and learn education. You can now get your hands on any of the good live chat software, like WebGreeter to make your website go an extra mile in serving the students as well as others. After all it is a digital world and we live in a global e-village.

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Project Risk Management and Assurance

Why do so many organisations embark on high-risk projects without demanding robust project assurance?

Projects fail for many reasons. Recent global studies indicate that inadequate risk management is a common cause.

Successful project managers aim to resolve high levels of exposure before they occur, via systematic risk management processes.

Many projects are inherently exposed to myriad risks and are often significant in scale, complexity and ambition. Delivering large-scale projects can often be adversely impacted by a bias towards being over-optimistic.

Imperfect, insufficient or inadequate data increases exposure that often results in over-estimating benefits and under-estimating costs.

Managing macro and micro-level events related to achieving project deliverables, whilst balancing the needs of many stakeholders, has become increasingly important.

Assessing risks at both portfolio and work-stream levels helps increase confidence that risks are understood.

Projects are often prioritised relevant to their levels of perceived exposure and one has its own risk profile.

Project Risk Management

Project risk management focuses on identifying, analysing and responding to project events.

It should be designed to systematically identify and manage levels of uncertainty and potential threats to delivering project objectives successfully.

Risk management processes should be iterative throughout a project’s life-cycle and embedded in project management planning and activities. Smaller projects often require minor work and periodic monitoring.

Complex projects need formalised processes to analyse, manage and report risks.

Good reporting relies on clear descriptions of all exposure, their impact on the projects, and potential costs for mitigation and inaction.

This helps ensure project personnel understand the potential impact risks may have on projects’ success and have prepared strategies to minimise negative consequences.

Problems occur when there is limited visibility of risks at project and portfolio levels or approaches to risk-management are ad-hoc and inconsistent.

Further problems can arise when risks are identified but recorded at a very high level accompanied by highly subjective risk ratings, rather than being the result of more substantive risk assessment.

When these problems arise, an organisation would benefit from clearer, more formal and wide-spread processes for capturing and monitoring risks.

Project and Portfolio Risk Assessments

Project and portfolio risk assessments should be undertaken to understand their risk profiles and associated threats in achieving business objectives.

Assessments should identify the action plans to address the risks identified and allocate executive responsibility to manage them. Additional risk assessments should be carried out on selected projects (perhaps by prioritising them by value or complexity).

Risk management processes should be on-going and monitored throughout a project’s life-cycle.

Regular risk reports would provide Project Sponsors, Senior Responsible Officers and Steering Groups with better visibility of projects’ risk profiles.

Whether you’re responsible for overseeing or managing a project, robust project assurance will help you address the risks that threaten its success.

Mark Gwilliam FCCA CA is the founder and Director of Business Advisory Services.

From humble beginnings, the firm has grown from strength to strength.

It has matured from a small accounting and tax services practice to one that helps small business owners, entrepreneurs and executives navigate complex challenges; including strategy, risk management and internal audit, managing shared-service centres and operations.

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