A Word about Advertising to Homeschoolers

Because homeschooling is a movement comprised of people operating outside an institutional environment and under a wide variety of beliefs and philosophies, it can be difficult to figure out the best ways to reach them. When libraries first start to offer programs and services to homeschoolers, they sometimes find that they have a difficult time drawing an audience and wind up feeling frustrated, sometimes giving up on the idea of offering programming to homeschoolers entirely.

I have a few thoughts about this.

Homeschoolers have their own communication networks in any area/region, and sometimes it can take a while to figure it all out. The best way is to start talking to homeschoolers. Try to figure out what organizations are operating in your area, and try to connect with someone in a leadership position who will help spread the word to members. Even if you manage to do this, you might find you’re still getting low response when you first start to offer programs. Part of this is because while homeschoolers are a growing population, they’re still a relatively small segment of the population. Also, like any other family, homeschoolers are busy and need to pick and choose among activities. What you’re offering isn’t going to be interesting to all families, and, if a library is new on the homeschooling scene, many may opt to hold off trying your programs until they hear about how wonderful they are from other homeschoolers. Word-of-mouth advertising is invaluable to any library’s programs and services, but it’s particularly strong in homeschooling circles. People talk to each other and readily share things they’re excited about and that they think work. A great example of this happened just a couple weeks ago when I was doing a library orientation for homeschooled kids. After the class, I was hanging around in the Children’s Room when I overheard two moms standing in front of the homeschooling section. One mom was enthusiastically and knowledgeably educating the other mom about all the programs and services we’ve developed. I could have told this mom all about the same things, but it has so much more authority coming from another homeschooler. It was a great thing to see.

So, when you’re just starting out, remember that if you only manage to get a small number of homeschoolers to come to your programs, if those you reach are impressed with the content and format, they’ll share that information and word will spread. They’ll even teach each other. If you continue to offer programs and services of high-quality and interest, you’re going to reach your audience – just perhaps not always in the ways you’re used to.

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