Anyone can sell to schools! See what and how they buy…

We’ve got an exciting and busy few weeks coming up at School Mailings – we’ll be exhibiting our company for the first time at some North West business exhibitions throughout April and May.

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks preparing our marketing materials for the events. If you’ve ever been to any exhibitions, you’ll know that the main stay of most exhibition stands are the banners. The key purpose of which is to attract visitors, tell them who you are, and ultimately interest them enough for them to visit your stand to find out more.

Now, here was my dilemma – as you know, we help clients to run marketing campaigns to UK schools.

Simple then, we could use our tagline ‘Experts in Marketing to Schools’ and that would tell visitors what we’re all about, right?

Well no, it wasn’t so simple. Now I know that you know that you can sell to schools. But when we talk to new businesses about what we do is, we sometimes hear, “…But we don’t sell to schools…”

The common misconception is that schools are only interested in purchasing education related products or services. So, our answer to this? “Ah yes, but you CAN sell to schools.”

Now we can’t blame businesses who are new to marketing to schools for thinking that schools are only interested in education related products. After all, that’s what pupils go to school for.

But this is simply not the case. Yes, education related products do make up a large proportion of the things that schools purchase, but it doesn’t end there. Schools need a whole array of products and services simply to allow them to run smoothly and look after hundreds of children and staff every day.

Think catering services. Think IT and internet support. Think transport. Think equipment and clothing. Think HR services. Think cleaning and hygiene supplies. Think staff training and development. Think pens, paper and books. Think learning resources. Think security. Think educational visits and school trips.

In fact, if you can think of it it’s more than likely that a school will need it!

We’ve had the pleasure of running marketing campaigns for a huge range of clients over the last 20 years. From creative and interactive learning resources, to unique and innovative classroom equipment, to charity awareness campaigns and television shows, to design and print companies, to authors, to outdoor facilities and landscaping companies, and more!

Anyone can sell to schools

In just the last week, we’ve provided marketing campaign options to a mental health awareness charity, a web design agency, an employee financial advisor, an outdoor equipment provider, a print and design company, an online course provider, a sports equipment supplier, a learning technology developer, a university, a communications app developer, a locker supplier, a painting and decorating business, and more!

So, if you ever hear anyone say they don’t sell to schools, just show them this list!

You can also see our case studies to hear from some of the clients we work regularly with.

Our clients

How do schools buy?

Now we’ve established that pretty much anyone can sell to schools, it’s important to understand how school budgets work, who makes spending decisions and how schools buy.

Much like any business, overall school budgets are usually managed by the senior leaders and filtered down to the different departments based on development plans and spending priorities.

68% of schools start planning for the new budgets at least six months in advance of the start of the new financial year. This means they are busy researching new suppliers all year round and when the time comes, they will know what they’re looking for.

Some of the budget is ringfenced, such as Pupil Premium and Sports Premium, which means the schools must spend this on related items. The remaining budget decisions are made by the individual schools themselves. Most schools plan their main spending based on key priorities for the year and key development areas.

Head Teachers and Heads of Department are usually the main decision makers when it comes to budgets, although some purchases do need approval from the Business Manager.

We know that there are both purchases and influencers in schools, which means that teachers and support staff can act as key influencers and advisors to the Heads of Departments and Head Teachers.

Whilst schools may actively research certain suppliers, they also rely heavily on proactive marketing by suppliers. This means that direct marketing campaigns to teachers and decision makers are a key tool for anyone wanting to raise their profile in UK schools.

Want to know more?

Understanding school spending will help you to plan your marketing activities and target the right decision makers for your product or service. Read our guides to learn more about the budget, see how schools manage their finances and make spending decisions, and for an overview of the buying process.

Just a quick final reminder – if you ever hear anyone say they don’t sell to schools, remember our answer!

And if you want to see the final slogan and design we went with for our exhibition banners, pop down to one of the North West exhibitions in April or May to meet our team:

Tuesday 24th April Big Bolton Expo
Wednesday 25th April Love Local Expo
Wednesday 2nd May Greater Manchester Business Fair
Tuesday 15th May Expo North West
Thursday 31st May The Biz Expos



Lyndsay Rushton

Marketing Manager

I keep our clients up to date with the key information and education knowledge needed to plan a successful marketing to schools campaign – whether it’s our website, our blogs or our social media. Contact me at

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