You are embedded in the running industry. And whether you are a store owner, manager or key staffer on the ups, four things likely ring true:
- You are passionate about health and fitness.
- You are well versed in a multitude of running/walking-related topics.
- You know a thing or two about operating a small business.
- You yearn to connect more deeply with your community.
You bring a unique blend of personal and professional attributes, each of which has value that goes far beyond a retail sales floor. All of your areas of expertise make you a relevant resource for markets beyond specialty run. One of these is most certainly the educational sector.
Back in the Classroom
Many years ago I was a teacher in a traditional classroom setting. I started in lower elementary, then eventually moved into middle school before wrapping up my career with high schoolers. At every level I reveled in the independence that comes with managing a class. I loved what I did.
As time-consuming and stressful as teaching was at times, writing lesson plans to account for every minute of the school day fed my entrepreneurial spirit. I loved having to always stay a step ahead. I was delighted by any chance to innovate.
Early in my tenure, a mentor told me to always accompany my most important lessons with a funny hat or anything that would make the moment more memorable. The challenge to increase retention was ongoing and real (sound familiar?).
I took my job seriously, but on the rare occasion when I was afforded a temporary reprieve from teaching responsibilities, I welcomed it. Bring on school assemblies! Bring on pep rallies! A big YES to P.E. classes and field trips! I happily passed the baton whenever someone else was willing to take over for a few minutes.
This is where you come in.
I guarantee that if, at any point in my teaching life, a local running shop representative had approached me with the idea to share their knowledge with my students, I’d have been all about it. All I’d need to get the ball rolling is a knock on the door. From someone like you.
Your class visit will not be a commercial for your store. You’ll be decked out in branded gear and students will naturally make the connection. Your delivery should instead revolve around topics the class is already exploring in their curriculum. Even better if the gathering includes some sort of physical movement, too. Teach them some cool stuff, then lead them on a run around campus. Teachers embrace any opportunity to get their kids outside. And side note, any time you can marry content with activity – like following a training session with a walk or run – you increase retention.
Getting – and Keeping – Their Interest
A few topics of interest for all levels of students:
- Basic anatomy (all students love a good talk about anatomy!)
- The importance of good nutrition, goal-setting, and the history of running.
- Older students may benefit from higher level discussions about leadership, community building and running a small business.
- Better still, teach what you know. Teach what you love. Give a piece of your authentic self to those kids.
Your social circle probably includes at least a few teachers. They are your bridge. Reach out and tell them you’d like to visit their class. You could also contact the school directly. I suggest you propose your idea to whoever answers the phone. They’ll likely be intrigued and will definitely know exactly to whom your call should be directed.
And if you are worried about ROI, check yourself. This sort of “marketing” is a long-game move and more of a community-builder than anything. No coupons will be distributed, there won’t be any immediate impacts on the week’s sales or sudden spikes in accessory turns. But the return is massive, nonetheless.
You will, however, have to be patient. Your crystallizing visit will plant the seeds for future loyalty. Those kids will never forget their time with you. Especially if you follow my mentor’s advice and show up wearing a funny hat.