Youth Canada

How to Get Advertisements for the School Yearbook

21-10-2008 by Wendy Ming

How to Get Advertisements for the School Yearbook

Panic! Your job is to get advertisements to go in the school yearbook and you have no idea what to do.

Relax. Advertising in the back of the school yearbook is the way that most school fundraise for the yearbook, and it could be a difficult task if you have no idea where to start. As someone who went through this process, here are some tips to help you:

1)Start early

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you get the advertisements before any other school can, then your chances of success are undoubtedly better.


A plan is absolutely essential. Where are you going to go get advertisements? How much are you charging per page? Are you offering discounts? If they want their ad right in the middle of the yearbook, would that be possible? Remember that business owners and store managers expect you to have the answers to all of these questions and more. Stuttering out an “I don’t know” does not help your cause.

If you really don’t know, don’t panic. Ask them for their contact information and get back to them as soon as possible once you have the answers. This will show them you are serious about your “job”.

3)Know your “target market”

What kind of businesses and stores are you going after? The high end boutique in downtown Toronto? Uncle John’s barber shop? Know who you are targeting and tailor your approach and sales pitch accordingly.

Compile a “hit list” of stores and businesses you will target and decide on which ones are the most likely to give you ads. Save those for when you are extremely comfortable with your sales pitch (see point 4).
Determine which stores are very unlikely to give you ads and try those places first. These businesses could be your “dress rehearsals” and you don’t have to freak out if you botch it up completely because they probably wouldn’t have given you an ad anyways.

Constantly revise your “hit list”. Add new stores to it, take away businesses that reject you. Your “hit list” is by no means set in stone, but do not ignore this step and target businesses without planning. Otherwise, you won’t remember whether you’ve visited a particular place already. Being disorganized is NOT an option and getting sloppy with your record keeping will bite you in the derriere.

4)Have a good sales pitch

Write, rewrite, edit, and practice until you can recite this sales pitch in your sleep. This does not mean you should sound robotic when delivering your pitch, just that you are fully comfortable with it. Some good things to include:
- Why should they advertise with you? What can you offer as a high school yearbook advertisement that other people can’t?
- How many students will have access to the yearbook? How many would be likely to visit the store/business?
- How much disposable income do students/parents/teachers/relatives of students have?

5)Prepare all the information they will need

This means have pricing charts, order forms, contact phone numbers, e-mails, phone number of your sponsor teacher and anything else that you could provide. Have this information ready so if they ever want to contact you, they will have everything and won’t have time to change their mind!.

6)Stay organized

This is probably the hardest and most crucial part of your entire operation. You’ll want to make order forms and tracking sheets to record down ANY and ALL information you can get. Do you have the manager’s name? The store/businesses business card? Their phone number? If the person you wanted to talk to isn’t there, do you know when they will be in next?

Gather as much information as you possibly could through your visits and phone calls. If you can get the manager’s dog’s name, by all means write it down. Maybe he or she will be so impressed that you know that their dog’s name is Fido that they will agree to advertise (Alright, at least you could dream).

Make sure you keep clear and detailed records. It is especially important that you do not confuse one store with another!

7)Check back and follow up

After you have contacted a store and given them a chance to mull it over, then it’s time to call back. Depending on the situation, you could call back within three days or three weeks. I would advise that you wait no longer than two weeks unless the business you are targeting specifically mentioned their manager/owner won’t be available for a few weeks. Two weeks is generally enough time for them to make a decision. If you don’t check back, you could lose a great opportunity (maybe they never got around to calling you). If you get rejected, as is bound to happen, then at least you will be able to cross the store off your list and move on.

8)Use your connections

If your second cousin’s best friend’s aunt is the manager of a local fast food joint or if your best friend works for the movie theatre down the road, make sure you use all of the personal networks and connections you can. Personal connections can get you ads that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

9)Look professional

High school students are not always well regarded by the local business community. We are often so much more problematic than we are helpful. Therefore, always look professional if you are going to visit businesses and stores. While that does not mean you need to drag out your dad’s 10 year old tux, it does mean that jeans with a million rips are out of the question (ditto to holey sneakers). This also applies to your mannerism. Look people in the eye, offer a solid handshake, talk in a friendly but authoritative tone, and please, please do not over use words like “like” and “dude” and “ghetto” or “epic fail” (actually, you should not use the latter three AT ALL).

10)Don’t tell them you are a student

I do not mean lie… well, not exactly. If people directly ask you if you are a student, then you should say yes, because lying doesn’t speak well of you. However, if they do not ask and assume that you are a teacher or something like that, go with the flow. Don’t tell them you are a student. Act professional and mature, and you’re far more likely to get ads than if you act like a stereotypical teenager.

11)Ask lots of questions

Ask lots of relevant questions to the person you’re doing business with and they won’t think you’re a total lazy bum. This means intelligent (or at least coherent) questions that pertain to what you’re doing. Ask about how big they want their ad, not who the Dallas Cowboys played last weekend. STAY ON TOPIC and avoid anything that has nothing to do with fundraising.

If you must make some small talk and the person you’re talking to is not busy, here are something you could ask (and what not to ask):

It is ok to ask:
- How long have they had their business
- What made them open/operate the business/store they do
- The age of their children (but only if they have a picture of their family or if they bring it up first)
- What’s their favourite drink/food at their store (food stores only)
- Their favourite sports team (but don’t try to convince them that your favourite team is better than theirs)

Do not ask:
- What they’re wife’s name is
- How many kids they have (unless they have a picture of their family on their desk)
- Whether they like bowling (or any other sort of hobby)
- What they’re favourite sports team is (and then proceed to try to convince them that the Canucks are better than the Maple Leaves)
- Anything personal, like their doctor/dentist’s name (unless they happen to be a doctor or dentist, otherwise, you could be mistaken for a stalker)

12)Be prepared to fail

You will get rejected from some stores. It’s a fact if you’re out to find advertisers (If you do not get rejected, then you aren’t trying hard enough). Therefore, don’t let rejections get to you. Cross the store off your “hit list” and move on. Keep trying and you will succeed.

Getting yearbook ads is a delicate art. Ok, no it’s not. Anyone can do it with a little bit of practice. Remember to keep trying and don’t let rejections get you down. Start early, plan well, have a solid sales pitch, and you’ll be rolling in money in no time (though don’t embezzle the money unless you want to be expelled or sued).

WENDY MING is a grade 12 student at University Hill Secondary School in Vancouver. She is a 2008 Shad Valley Waterloo alumna, and was a part of the 4-I's (Intrepid Impact In-Office Interns) with Mathew, Imran, William, and Pretty. She was the Fundraising Leader of her school's yearbook in grade 11, so feel free to contact her at if you have any questions.