Advertising. Naming rights. Corporate sponsorships.
Hatboro-Horsham School District hopes to make all of these more commonplace on district facilities and grounds. But, since adopting a school district policy last year, the district has not made as much headway as it had hoped and is considering—as one of a four-pronged process—the possibility of hiring a firm to help market the district to would-be advertisers.
"We wanted to take a look at the idea of contracting with a professional," Bob Reichert, Hatboro-Horsham's director of business affairs told the school board during Monday night's work session. "We don’t have a lot of resources, time, energy and expertise to put together a real comprehensive program."
So, on Monday, Bryan McGair of 2-year-old New Jersey-based community marketing firm Advantage 3, gave an overview of how his company has reaped profits through advertising revenue, sponsorships and naming rights for 42 New Jersey and Pennsylvania school districts currently under contract.
If hired, McGair said the district would pay a "one-time" fee of $7,500 to cover the cost of producing a marketing portfolio. Then, for each ad, sponsorship, or naming rights deal made, the district would receive a 75 percent cut, while Advantage 3 would net the remaining 25 percent.
The percentage splits would take effect only after "you get your fee 100 percent back," McGair told the board, noting that the first $7,500 in revenue would be paid to the district to cover his firm's up-front costs.
In return for the initial out-of-pocket expense, McGair said he and his team would help the district raise "long-term sustainable revenues." To do so, McGair said he would look at "monetizing the hard assets" in the form of buildings, stadiums, gymnasiums, science and computer labs, scoreboards and more.
"You name it," McGair said of the possibilities. "Those assets can go to work for you."
McGair stressed though that it would take 12 to 15 months for the process to really plant seeds and bear fruit. The goal, he said, is to generate volume in the form of 20, 30 or even 40 sponsors or advertisers.
The board took no action Monday and Superintendent Curtis Griffin said the issue would be considered often over the next several months.
"As we engage in this we want to do it in a very thoughtful manner," Griffin said, adding that the district does not want to "over-saturate" and wants to be "cautious" about where advertising is placed.
"We’re in the sponsorship game and we’re in the advertising game," Griffin said. "The question is how far do we want to go?"
Besides Advantage 3, Reichert said the district is considering School Media, a Minnesota-based marketing firm that works with districts to "apply visually appealing, creative educational and whole body health advertisements to common areas of the school grounds," according to a company flier in the board packet.
School Media would offer its services at no cost to the district.
Another revenue-generating idea involves conducting research to determine the best ways to market Hatboro-Horsham's organizations in terms of merchandising, Reichert said. He also mentioned a grassroots effort to match local businesses with like district programs so that a health care provider, for instance, could sponsor a wellness program. The fourth component of the district's approach so far to generate more sponsorship and advertising revenue is to offer ads on the district's Web site, the school district TV channel and use signs to promote school events and sports, Reichert said.