Deborah Carton left a successful career in teaching behind her, with a simple vision to revolutionise open evenings and recruitment events at schools and colleges.
Less than a year later and Deborah is leading the launch of www.biggreensheep.com, a first for FE colleges, and one of the most innovative marketing techniques developed specifically for the education market for years.
Deborah explained: "I was often tasked with managing open evenings at school, and had to put in massive efforts to develop materials and activities for the invited students and parents. It could be soul destroying if after all that effort, a poor turnout meant you were in a big hall with dozens of colleagues, and there was no-one to talk to about your school or academic choices."
Accepting that sometimes attracting large audiences and engaging with parents and potential students is a difficult task, Deborah set out to identify ways of bringing larger audiences to an event. The rest is history. Deborah identified that offering students quality product samples was an excellent way of attracting them to attend an event. Combining this knowledge and with some assistance in developing a data managed website, the Big Green Sheep was born.
Deborah explains the concept: "I wanted to build an events company which could come to a school or college, on an open day or during an enrolment event, set up and offer a really high quality product, which could increase the number of people attending an event. I realised the importance of getting good information and the potential of gathering research data for the event host, and so an online registration and fulfillment process seemed obvious."
"At Big Green Sheep we want to take a very honest and ethical approach. We will only accept real product samples, and not vouchers or products with strings attached. We wanted to find quality samples, and ones which were appropriate to the target audience. We wanted to gift box a range of samples to offer something really valuable. Finally, we wanted to offer a really professional event, with helpful and engaging staff who would make the audience feel really comfortable. Achieving all of this is a tall order, but we believe that an ethical product sampling company can achieve better results for the colleges, schools and those supplying the products."
Big Green Sheep launched to a selected audience of education specialists in November 2008 at the FE Marketing Conference.