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Marketing the FSS Program

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1 Marketing the FSS Program
Ellen Weinhold, FSS Coordinator Susan Kanoff, FSS Coordinator

Social workers, grant writers, life coaches and now marketing directors! Why do I need to market my program? Marketing to FSS participants (recruiting) Marketing to the community (networking, partnerships and donations) Developing materials Marketing is important! Unlike a business, the FSS Program doesn’t come with marketing dollars—we generally don’t have an advertising budget. However ,LIKE a business we need to promote the program and all the good things we do!! Most of us are running our programs on a shoe-string…the only funding that Ellen and I get is the HUD grant for our salaries. In this workshop we’re going to teach you some creative marketing techniques that will not only help increase your program size but also help you raise awareness of the program, get community involvement and increase your program size. Promoting FSS!

3 THINK BUSINESS! Part of running a successful program is getting the word out! You will need to develop various marketing materials and campaigns that appeal to your targeted population. Get creative and have fun with it. You will yield positive results with professional marketing materials (more recruits, donations and services). It’s important to run your program like a business…you will need to have a plan for success which will include networking, marketing, develop promotional materials for both recruiting and collaborating with businesses and the community. Getting the word out-----Reach out to everyone. The more people who know about the program, the easier time you will have recruiting. Make presentations at local agencies (for referrals), make sure that your PCC is familiar with the program guidelines, network with businesses, agencies, schools, and the local community. Know your CAP agencies (does everyone know what a CAP agency is? ) . Talk about the programs offered (fuel assistance, WIC, financial, Head Start) and how networking with these agencies can help your clients. Think about who you’re targeting…is it Section 8 participants for recruiting or are you trying to get donations from businesses? Your marketing materials (brochures, flyers etc) should appeal to the targeted audience so you may need a few different types of brochures. Use different templates in Publisher, use color, different fonts, photos/pictures..a lot of people won’t even look at a flyer unless it catches their attention. Once again…Publisher, Vistaprint, Word, etc. You can even partner with a local vocational school or high school to see if a graphics arts student could help design your materials. If your HA has a website, make sure that you have a link to the FSS Program.

How do you want to reach your potential clients? (mass mailing, informational coffee, session at voucher briefing…or all of the above) Develop an assortment of marketing materials such as business cards, brochures, flyers, postcards, etc. Get creative and use clear and easy to understand language Recruiting methods may depend on your program size, budget and geographical location. Maintain communication with your Section 8 Coordinator. He/she will be essential for recruiting. We’ve tried all of these methods and the most successful so far (for us) has been getting referrals from the Section 8 department. However, HUD wants to see that you’re reaching out to all Section 8 participants so mass mailings are important too (also document this—save and date copies of materials you’ve sent out). Also check your action plan to see what you stated regarding outreach. You’ll need to follow this… Show them…and there will be copies in their packets. Discuss. Know who you’re targeting…if you’re targeting Section 8 participants then you won’t want to use “business” language. Materials should be reader-friendly. You may also want to have your materials translated into other languages. Are you close to bus routes for those who don’t have transportation? I you are in rural areas with limited bus routes, informational coffees may not be your best bet. Good communication is essential! Give the Section 8 Coordinator a stack of your business cards and information on the program to pass along to voucher holders. She/he should be well versed in the FSS Program.

Eye catching colorful flyer Description of FSS Program Highlight “golden egg” escrow accounts Supportive services offered through FSS Program Key components of FSS Program Stress that FSS posses no risk to Section 8 The effectiveness of the FSS Program Vignettes from Actual FSS participants All contact information

6 FSS Informational Session Flyer
Eye catching colorful flyer Mass mailing to all Section 8 voucher holders Time, date, location that is convenient for your population RSVP- limited number of slots available Your Contact Information Offer childcare & refreshments Offer door prizes ( i.e. grocery store gift card, Wal-Mart gift card) )

Handouts Explain benefits of FSS Program Fully explain escrow accounts in clear simple terms Have FSS program graduates talk about their positive experiences. Q & A Set up individual appointments One of the things that I’ve found to be helpful is to book an individual informational session with “good FSS candidates” (get the info from your Section 8 Coordinator) and have the letter signed by the ED. I’ve had a better response this way. Simple letter----As a HCV participant you are required to meet with the FSS Coordinator on ____________________ to learn more about the FSS Program and its benefits. Don’t go into detail about the escrow account at first----keep it simple! Many people won’t even know what an escrow account it---you can use the term savings account instead. I always say…a bonus of the program is a savings account that builds as you earn more money. BE CONCRETE…you can save thousands of dollars by participating in the FSS Programs…some of our graduates have even purchased homes!

8 THE ESCROW ACCOUNT How FSS Escrow Works Initial Situation
Total Tenant Payment Contract Rent HAP $ $1, $800.00 Two Years Later (Employment Income Increases TTP to$500.00) Total Tenant Payment Contract Rent HAP $ $1, $800.00 $500 HAP $ Escrow TTP = Your portion of the rent HAP =The Housing Authority’s portion of rent Once you are sitting down on-on-one with a recruit—you can explain the escrow account in more details. Don’t be afraid to show them how it potentially could work on paper….go over different scenarios…if your rent goes from $100-$300 per month because you earn more money….a percentage of the increase will go into a savings account…approx $200. Stress that they don’t have to do a thing. They will pay the same rent increase if they are NOT in the FSS Program. Also explain how some clients wait to sign up for the program, they get a pay increase, their rent goes up and then they lose the escrow money. It’s better to join when rent is LOW.

To raise awareness of the program To help recruiting efforts (referrals from other agencies) Services for clients Donations Fundraise It is crucial that the community is aware of the FSS Program. People like to help others who are really trying---working and making a better life for themselves and their families. By tapping into the community you can get client referrals, obtain services for your clients (explain Smiling Kids Gift cards….didn’t even know it existed until I networked with another agency and learned about it., monetary donations, holiday gifts, etc. You should NOT be in your office all the time---you should be going to networking meetings, join boards and groups, and be out and about in the community.

10 RAISING AWARENESS Getting the word out to other Social Service agencies Target feeder programs Coordination of services Maximize services for clients Community Involvement Fundraising. *Join groups…we actually combined our PCC group with the Mass Society for Prevention to Cruelty to Children’s. This doubled the size of our group and gives us more social service providers to network with. Get on the board of your local childcare group,--we have The Community Partnerships for Children based out of a non-profit, literacy groups, *If you don’t have a state FSS Coordinators Group, start one! Ellen and I co facilitate the Mass Coordinators group. We meet monthly---have speakers , learn about programs, and network. This group has become one of our best resources. *Publicity: Contact your local newspaper, radio station, or TV station to promote the FSS Program. The more the community learns of your program, the more assistance you’ll get. Let the press and media know of success stories---send them vignettes---someone who purchased a home or started a business. *

Develop specific marketing materials for businesses and organizations Identify agencies, organizations and businesses Offer to speak about FSS Program Get to know your town officials and politicians List FSS services on city/town website Target local businesses for donations and employment opportunities. Your marketing materials for recruiting should be different than the materials for businesses. Know your community…join a Rotary Club or attend Chamber meetings. Find out what services and businesses are out there! Get on your city or town’s website. Our local library has a resource site in which we’re listed. Go to job and business fairs…introduce the program to businesses. Build a relationships with business owners---ask for job openings to be send to you. We have a great relationship with Bugaboo Creek restaurants (they’re a chain). Every Christmas Eve morning, they open up the restaurant just for our clients---feed them breakfast and have gifts for the kids. They’ve been doing this for about 4 years and it’s become a tradition. It’s gone so well that they want to replicate the program to other Mass and NH Bugaboo Creeks.

Join local boards and committees Write a newsletter to update the community on the FSS Program Create a FSS website Contact the local media (radio, newspaper, etc) to cover success stories *How many of you have a website? A website can be a great source of information both for the community and potential recruits. *Make friends with the media! Send them updates on your program---success stories

13 MARKETING MATERIALS Develop marketing materials such as brochures, flyers, and business cards Materials should include program mission, description of FSS, success stories, innovative programs, links, and contact information. Keep format professional Once again you should have a few different sets of marketing materials….one for recruiting and one for the community.

14 RESOURCES Get a listing of community agencies & organizations from the internet and the Yellow Pages (social service organizations listing) Helpful Links (FSS Partnership (HUD FSS website) Kathryn Greenspan (HUD) Anice Shervis (HUD public FSS) Yahoo group Contact us for help: Ellen Weinhold, Methuen Housing Authority, 24 Mystic St. Methuen, MA 01844 Phone (978) ext 24 Susan Kanoff, North Andover Housing Authority, One Morkeski, Methuen, MA Phone (978) ext. 15

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