Win/Win Marketing: Give a Teacher an Apple – Apple iPad, That Is.

Picture from Apple's Teach for America Donation Page

On March 11th, Apple released the iPad2 to the world. Chocked up with tons of new features, a sleeker design, and optimism for the future of tablets, the iPad2 would inevitably provide for Apple a surge of attention and sales, essentially marketing itself. But the iPad2 wasn’t the only thing Apple released to the public around this time. In partnership with this new product, Apple decided to set up shop for a donation stream of iPads to Teach for America. Follow along as I take a look at how Apple’s donation program benefits Teach for America (beyond the obvious reasons) and then I’ll tell you why Teach for America is going to increase Apple’s sales right now and for years to come.

First off, let’s start by addressing the evident benefit for TFA. They will be receiving a huge influx of iPads! But can iPads alone really serve as an educational revolution? Apple thinks so. According to their iPads in Education page, the iPad is poised to change the learning landscape. We think it can do more.

On March 7th, President Barack Obama signed a bill that cut spending on more than a dozen educational programs, including an $18 million slash on Teach for America. Teach for America is known for its sound financial portfolio and diversification of funding streams. If you look at their most recent 2010-2011 Press Kit, you will find a breakdown of their funding from the year 2009. With the government having contributed 15% of their total operating revenue, Teach for America will need to find a way to redistribute these demands to other pillars of funding sources.

Incidentally enough, the announcement of its loss in funding had one positive effect on Teach for America – it’s website traffic boomed. Traffic and attention would spike 6 days later with the announcement that Apple (in the hype of its iPad2 release) would be accepting donations of iPads on behalf of Teach for America.

It is clear that in order to make up for the government’s cuts, Teach for America will need to garner more support from corporations, foundations, and potentially the hardest but most important market of them all, individuals. Who are these individuals and could the iPad program actually deliver just these people to TFA? I took a look at teachforamerica.org’s demographics to try and indentify TFA’s stakeholders and potential donor prospects.

Our Compete.com data shows that the largest income demographic for the teachforamerica.org audience in January and February of 2011 was “Under 30K” at 28-29% of overall traffic. In March, this figure drastically switched so that the greatest proportion of teachforamerica.org viewers were actually in the highest income bracket, “100K Plus” at 29%. In April, the 60-100K group jumped from 20% of the viewers to 36% of the viewers and has remained the largest group on the site since (current tied with TFA’s original Under 30K market at 30% of the audience each).

Why the sudden increase in higher-income viewership? According to a study released by the Wall Street Journal, 49.4% of iPad owners have a personal income of $100,000+. Though apple.com doesn’t cater specifically to this demographic, it is clear that the specific iPad product does. I’m willing to bet that an even higher percentage of those who donate their iPads have an income of $100,000+. Could it be that Apple is driving a high-income, socially-concerned and educationally-invested consumer to teachforamerica.org? If this is the case, then yes, Teach for America will be getting more than iPads out of this deal. They will be reaching an excruciatingly valuable market and cultivating a prized donor.

But what about Apple, you say? What kind of strategy have they employed in selecting Teach for America? Take a look at Apple’s mission statement:

“Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings”

Everyone who partakes in the educational system is part of Apple’s target market. Through educator’s discounts, back-to-school promotions, and an education sub-domain that relates all of Apple’s offerings to the field of education, it is clear that Apple has invested quite a lot of its energy into reaching this market. What better way is there to foster even deeper connections than to support such a program as Teach for America? Apple is making a long-term investment in the teachers, students, parents, and future educational game-changers who are going to see educational technology as an increasingly integral player both inside and outside of the classroom.

Plus, Apple has given iPad consumers a reason not to feel guilty about buying yet another iPad. An iPad user who has enjoyed his or her time with the device and wants to stay up to date with the latest technology but is hesitant to do so, can now feel like their purchase isn’t wasteful, but rather extremely impactful. This is a slight adaptation of the one-for-one model, except Apple is getting consumers to buy both and give away one.  Brilliant.

About Jen Duguay:
Jen Duguay joins Compete to take on all things social media. She comes from a social issue background, most recently having worked for the Social Innovation Forum, the venture philanthropy arm of Root Cause, a nonprofit research and consulting firm. Jen's interests include singing, marketing, running, art, making guacemole, and using social entrepreneurship to tackle world issues. She has spent time in Belize and the Dominican Republic working on microfinance initiatives and recently traveled to Kenya where she studied the public healthcare system. Follow Jen @jenduguay on Twitter.