5 lessons the Chewbacca Lady can teach your school about marketing

5 lessons the Chewbacca Lady can teach your school about marketing

Candace Payne’s hysterical viral video, “It’s the simple joys in life…”, recently put Candace on the social media map as the “Happy Chewbacca Lady“. If you haven’t seen the video, you have to stop what you are doing and take 4 minutes and get ready to laugh!

Watch the video on Candace Payne’s Facebook Page or catch it on Reddit.

Naturally, I think many schools may look at a video like this and immediately long for their own “viral video”. The concept of “creating a viral video” is almost impossible, because the true viral test is determined by the reaction of your audience. So stop trying the produce the next trending video and learn some important lessons from the Chewbacca lady. Here are 5 lessons that I think that every school should take away and implement in your marketing every day:

  • SIMPLE JOYS – Everyone needs to laugh! As Candace says in the video and every subsequent interview she has had on GMA or The Today Show, it is important for us to laugh and not take ourselves too seriously. Schools are notoriously stale on social media. Have some fun and showcase the lighter side of life at your school. Many of you will remember the fun that the Durham Academy administrator’s had with a snow day announcement back in 2014!
  • REAL-TIME – It appears that Candace’s video was truly unplanned and a great example of real-time, spontaneous authenticity. There are moments at your school where something happens during morning announcements, during your weekly chapel time or on the court that you want everyone to see. The lesson is to always have your smartphone on and ready to capture the moment so you can share it with the world (including your prospective parent audience!)
  • EVIDENCE – For years, I have told my Christian school clients that they cannot just “talk” about what makes them great, but they have to be able to “showcase evidence” of the marketing claims they make. Candace’s demonstration of the Chewbacca mask is the genius of this video and it is mixed with the contagious emotion of Candace. Emotional videos (tears or laughter) provide the platform to showcase the fruit that your school produces. Thus, video testimonials from parents are great examples of capturing evidence and emotion together in one piece of content. Here are 5 important things your school’s content should do well!
  • REPURPOSE – The initial “Chewbacca Lady” video has been viewed millions of times and shared all over every social media channel imaginable. But the marketing lesson is what happens after the video. Think of all the interviews Candace has already done or will do in the coming days and weeks. Learn to repurpose your own great content, recycle it, and extend the life span of your content by giving your audience multiple ways to watch it over and over. If you have a good online review come in from GreatSchools.org, then repurpose it and make a new blog post out of it, post it as an image on Instagram or paste the testimonial alongside your tuition to put your school’s price tag in context of the value parents receive. Learn more about reducing parental “sticker shock”.
  • RESPONSE – Candace mentions in the beginning of the video that she found the Chewbacca mask at Kohl’s department store. Then later in the video she reveals that she is not buying the mask for her kids, but keeping it for herself! Well, within hours of the original video going viral, Kohl’s responds and shows up at Candace’s house with masks (and more) for her kids, too! This is a great example of how an organization must stay aware of what is being said about them online. You can create a social media listening station through Hootsuite, systematically check for new online reviews every couple of days, or be aware from your parent ambassador group about what other parents or students are saying about you on various social media channels. When it is appropriate, you can comment on the Instagram post about your school, you can respond professionally to the online review, or you might just show up at someone’s house with a basket full of your school’s spirit wear!

While every organization wishes for a viral video to put them on the map, consistently strong enrollment marketing is more than just one moment in the social media limelight. Smart enrollment marketing is a customized system that is paired with an effective marketing strategy and the right marketing tactics for your school.

We provide customized marketing systems for Christian schools through 2 different ways:

  1. Our year-long “9-Steps to Marketing Your Christian School” or
  2. Our accelerated “Enrollment Marketing Roadmap

Whichever way works best, we would love to help you develop a customized marketing system that is right for your school!

Click here for a free 30-minute phone consultation with Randy!

Randy Vaughn, Christian School Marketing Consutant

Randy Vaughn, Christian School Marketing Consultant


Top Ten May Content Ideas for Your School

Top Ten May Content Ideas for Your School

If we sing at Christmastime, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” then the month of May may cause you to belt out a chorus, “It’s the Craziest and Busiest Time of the Year!” While this may be true, you must be active online with content that your prospective parents can see, listen to or watch. One of the easiest ways to connect to these audiences is to produce content that other people are already talking about.

As I have done in the past with content ideas for the months of January, February, March and April, here are my Top 10 content ideas for the month of May to help you plan and prepare:

  1. Teacher Appreciation (first week of May) – you may already organize special gifts and recognition for your teachers, but do not let this be an internal celebration only. Showcase your teachers in your marketing to prospective parents. These front-line warriors are the faces and stories of the individuals who will be caring daily for the children of future moms and dads. And these parents are not wanting to wait until an Open House to meet them. Feature their expertise, education and experience on the website and then share those pages all over social media. Bonus: Happy Teachers Make Great Referrals
  2. Star Wars Day – on May the 4th, the hallways and social media sites will be abuzz with the familiar greeting, “May the Fourth Be With You”, a clever play on words from “May the FORCE be with you” that sounds similar to this 4th day of May each year. Star Wars remains a cultural phenomenon across all generations at your school, so have some fun with this one!
  3. Cinco de Mayo (May 5))- not actually celebrating Mexican independence as many think (that’s in September), Cinco de Mayo is a day to recognize the rich culture of Mexican and Hispanic heritage.
  4. Kentucky Derby (second Saturday in May) – commonly known as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”, this is one a few major national sporting events in May, so you may want to be creative with this one.
  5. Bucket & Puck Playoffs – with college sports behind us, it’s time for the pros to make a run for the championship of the National Basketball Association and for the Stanley Cup! While the championship events may not occur until early June, these playoff basketball and hockey games will certainly occupy your TV sets and tablets during May.
  6. Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May) – when it comes to easy content, simply pull out your smartphone and ask your students to say why they love their Mom. Video content like this easy gold! Since it falls on a Sunday, plan ahead so you can share your videos the week leading up to the holiday or at least on the Monday following.
  7. Chicken Dance Day (May 14)- this silly song gets every moving at weddings, proms, and daddy-daughter dances is the popular song on National Dance Like a Chicken Day! This may seem silly to you, but if you participate, you can show off your fun side and join in on what will definitely be a trending topic on social media. Get up a dance (like a chicken) – if you don’t know how, these elementary kids will show you how! 
  8. Armed Forces Day (middle of May, usually on a Saturday) – Many events across the United States take place on Armed Forces Day to honor Americans in uniform who served their country in times of war and peace. This is a great chance to feature moms, dads, grandparents and other loved ones who have served in uniform. Because it falls on a weekend, post some pictures on Friday or the following Monday.
  9. Memorial Day (last Monday in May) – Memorial Day is dedicated to service men and women who gave their lives for freedom and country. Engage your families, alumni and especially grandparents about this holiday. Have someone on staff (or a volunteer parent) write about why this holiday is important – then post that article to your website/blog and share it in emails and all over social media. I suspect your web traffic will increase significantly!
  10. Graduation – whether it’s the culmination of over a decade of school work, or if you are putting cap and gown on a cute little bunch of Kindergartners, graduation is a critical marketing event for your school. I recently wrote an article, “Did you miss these marketing opportunities at your recent graduation? that will prompt with you ideas on how to make the most of this mile marker at your school.


Content Guide and Content Calendar

Hysterical – gotta see this from over almost 150 years ago: 1872 Rules for Teachers


This is too funny – found this sign at my daughter’s school that reads, “1872 – Rules for Teachers”

1872 - Rules for Teachers

Screenshot 2016-05-05 13.15.13

As it reads above:

  1. Teachers will fill the lamps and clean the chimney each day.
  2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day’s sessions.
  3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual tastes of the pupils.
  4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
  5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
  6. Women teachers who marry or engage in improper conduct will be dismissed.
  7. Every teacher should lay aside from each day’s pay a goodly sum of his earnings. He should use his savings during his retirement years so that he will not become a burden on society.
  8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, visits pool halls or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop, will give good reasons for people to suspect his worth, intentions, and honesty.
  9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay.
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5 reasons Instagram is great for your school marketing

5 reasons Instagram is great for your school marketing

When I do one-on-one, personalized marketing coaching for private schools, one of the most common questions is:

“What social media platform is best for our school?”

It is a difficult question to answer. I believe that social media really should not be narrowed down to one single platform. Facebook, with all its enormity, is no doubt a formidable player in social media, and thus, should be a major platform in your school’s social strategy. Twitter is significant for reasons of connecting with your community and I completely believe in Pinterest for web traffic. So why Instagram? Here are 5 reasons Instagram is such a great tool in marketing your school:

  1. REACH – according to one research site, 50% of Instagram users are under the age of 30, 50% are females and a majority have mid-to-high incomes. That probably mirrors your target demographic, especially if you are looking to attracting moms of younger kids (which you should).
  2. VISUAL – whether it is just preference or due to the busyness of our culture, but we are a visually-oriented people. If you told a focus group that they had 5 minutes to go on the internet, my guess is that 99.999% of them would spend those precious seconds looking at pictures or watching videos rather than reading articles.
  3. ENGAGEMENT – while you wonder and worry about why people do not seem to comment on your Facebook posts, it is increasingly likely that your Instagram users are liking (and even commenting) on your photos/images/graphics and videos.
  4. UNIQUE LOOK – the Instagram culture rewards and expects fantastic photo presentation. While this may intimidate some, it affords you creative leeway to capture your school in unique ways and from unique angles. With all of the many tools, filters and special photo/video editing apps available, you should never have a reason to post a boring photo (and your fans will love you for your efforts!)
  5. CROSS-POSTING – with the right tools and correct setup, you can post to Instagram while also sharing those images on Facebook and Twitter. While I do not advocate this being your only strategy for content publishing on these two platforms, it does make it easy to augment your content on those channels without having to do much at all.

To learn more about strategic social media coaching, contact Donny or Randy.

11 Free April Content Ideas for Your School

11 Free April Content Ideas for Your School

“March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”

“April showers bring May flowers”

“April…hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” (Shakespeare)

Believe it or not, I proposed to my wife on April 1, 1995! No joke. It had to be a Saturday night and that was the weekend that particular spring when it was the perfect timing. Nevertheless, it still makes for some good laughs when I tell that to people.

As your school get swamped in year-end activities, do not forget that potential moms and dads are also busy looking at school options for their kids. In order to continue to be top-of-mind with all of them (when your to-do list is already full), you must continue to produce content that is relevant to their lives. And if it is part of the cultural conversation on social media already, why not create content that would keep you in the forefront of their minds?

As I have done in the past with content ideas for the months of January, February and March, here are 11 content ideas for the month of April:

  • April Fool’s Day (4/1) – while you may wish to discourage student pranks, you may want to publish a prank school lunch menu (with worms and bugs for lunch) or have some fun on your social media channels with various pranks for this oddball holiday (here’s a list of what many top brands pulled off in 2015 on April Fool’s Day; also, check out Katie Couric’s prank on a late-night talk show – so funny!)
  • PB & Jelly Day (4/2) – have some fun with the younger kids and older kids and even the staff all enjoying a PB&J feast! According to Guinness World Records, one man holds the record for eating 6 sandwiches within a minute – who will accept the challenge to beat that record? As I have said in other months, think “free news coverage”!
  • College Basketball Championship (first part of April) – as March Madness winds down, the Final Four is college basketball’s “super bowl”! Make student connections with former students who are attending any of the competing schools; especially noteworthy if any former students are playing in the big tournament (interview them via Skype about the behind-the-scenes or about how your school helped them to prepare for college).
  • MLB Opening Day (usually around the first part of the month) – in the same way, recognize any former students playing in the MLB or interview your staff about who their favorite MLB player is. Hot dogs, nachos, peanuts and Cracker Jacks may be a fun lunch menu that on Opening Day!
  • National Library Week (4/10-16) – if your school has a school librarian, this is the week you want to do a special feature on this staff person (note: featuring all of your staff throughout the year is important!)
  • The Masters (ends on the 2nd Sunday of April) – golf’s most heralded tournament with the prized green jacket.
  • Tax Day (April 15) – publish FAQs on your website (that will remain year-round) that answer common questions like “can I deduct my daughter’s private school tuition?” or “can you use a 529 to pay for son’s private high school?”. People are likely asking you these questions already (or wondering in their head), so provide the answers.
  • Earth Day (4/22) – your local news stations may be looking for young people who take pride in the environment, so this may be an opportunity to do something unique that gets media attention.
  • Administrative Professionals Week (last week of the month) – another opportunity to introduce potential families to the personal (and personnel) side of your school.
  • Arbor Day (last Friday of the month) – plant some trees around campus and feature ones you have planted in previous years.
  • NFL Draft (toward the end of April) – while we watch our TVs and devices to see what round our favorite college players get picked by our favorite NFL teams, you may want to explore any connection you have to former students in this year’s draft (or you can list out other famous former student who have played in the NFL). You may also wish to have a video or essay contest if you can have students talk about the best character qualities of some of their favorite NFL players.

BONUS: the third Thursday of April is always “National High Five Day” – how cool is that! Here’s a Twitter feed about this bizarre holiday that also might give you ideas for some fun short videos around campus.

If you need help with a marketing strategy where this kind of content is critical, check out one of the FREE presentations of our Spring Webinar Series called, “Eliminating Chaos from Your School’s Marketing Strategy”.

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Content Guide and Content Calendar