Creating a Sale Flyer or Catalog? Set the Expiration Date to Capture Purchase Order Funds

Have you heard someone say they are waiting to purchase a particular item until it is on sale? When most of us receive a sale flyer or catalog, we look to see what products are on sale. is popular because their merchandisers have convinced us that they offer everything at the lowest price. People go shopping at 5 am on Black Friday because they believe the discounts are the very best they will be all year. There is no question that sales generate revenues.

If you are going to go through the expense of creating and distributing a flyer or catalog you should consider having a sale — even if you only do it once each year, and even if you can only afford to have few products on sale. Today, no one needs a flyer or catalog to find a product or service. Google has everything. However, Google is not always effective at conveying a sale in the same way as a flyer or catalog. Email is just too easy to trash.

You Cannot “Delete” Flyers or Catalogs

Flyers and catalogs are physical. You cannot dispose of them by pushing the delete button. You have to take them from your mailbox and put them in the trash. Any merchandiser worth his or her salt can take advantage of that moment to get a message across via the front and back covers.

The education market is seasonal. There are times when educators purchase products and services and times when they do not. The most popular months to launch sales promotions are January, March and August. These months lend themselves to sales themes — January for a Winter Sale, March for a Spring Sale, and August for a Back to School Sale.

Sales Need to Have Expiration Dates

An often-overlooked aspect of having a sale is the expiration date — the date when the sale ends.  Sales need to have expiration dates. That is what makes them a sale.  When there is no expiration date then the sale price becomes the regular price.  After a few promotions, no one is motivated to see what is on sale because there is no sale, just the claim of a sale.

In consumer markets, most sales end in 24 hours, a weekend, or a week. If your goal is to seek teacher out-of-pocket monies, follow the consumer marketers. However, in the education market, institutionally funded purchases do not develop that quickly. The purchasing process can trickle up the decision-making hierarchy or down. Purchases can require several layers of approval and take weeks, even months.

Discretionary Funds Peak in the Summertime

Virtually all school budgets roll over on June 30. Prior to that, if there is money left in the current budget, it is a case of use it or lose it. On July 1, the budget for the new school year is in place. Consequently, late June through early July is when there is likely to be newfound discretionary funds.  If you want to capture some of those funds with your sale flyer or catalog, you need to set your sale expiration date appropriately.

Summertime is also when many educators are taking holidays; my preference is to set expiration dates at the very end of August. While consumer marketers would criticize this excessively long period for an expiration date, it is a date that accommodates the purchasing process for virtually all schools and districts. Accommodating the education purchasing process can be the difference between a sale that is successful and one that is not.

SMRI has created hundreds of direct mail catalogs for the school market. EDMarket members can receive a free catalog critique. To schedule yours, email Bob at

Bob Stimolo, School Market Research Institute

Bob is EDmarket’s Official School Market Consultant and president of School Market Research Institute. As a member of EDmarket, Bob will advise you on your promotion materials and list selection free of charge.