Billboards, brochures and jumbo baboons on the top of buildings rarely do more catch a fleeting glance. They offer NO value, however, in convincing someone that your school is the right choice for them.
When I talk at conferences or with 1-on-1 clients, I first address a definition of “school marketing”. Since I am a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, I am borrowing a definition that goes like this:
“Getting ideal families to know, like and trust you to build loyal ambassadors for your school.”
The “know-like-trust” part of that definition is where the real challenge in marketing is. Families need evidence.
Too many schools still assume that with the perfect ad, radio spot or even Facebook campaign, that they will increase enrollment. While that may give you some results, the tried-and-true results come from a relationship building marketing effort that offers prospective parents the opportunity to get to KNOW, get to LIKE and get to TRUST you. When they reach the latter stage, they are committed to you and to you alone. That means they are ready for enrollment.
But to get to enrollment, the “KNOW” stage typically has to run through the “LIKE” stage first. Rarely does a magazine ad result in a phone call that says, “I saw your ad and we want to enroll our 5 children.” While exceptions exist, the norm is for those parents of those 5 kids to see your advertising efforts and then pursue a relationship with you. Here’s what that path might look like:
- After the phone call, the family starts to receive regular communication via email. This is not just adding them to the “newsletter” list. This is a series of emails that are best if they are autogenerated in a series where you have a chance to build your case for your school.
- The parents receive other forms of communication like a formal letter from the Head of School, hand-written cards from PTO, principals and parents. They may also receive a card in the mail with a Polaroid photo (yes they have made a comeback) of the student standing alongside his student tour guide during the recent tour or Open House.
- The family gets connected via Instagram and Facebook where they see regular evidence such as “Why I Love My School” videos from students. As well, they will watch parent testimonials and regularly hear in their newsfeed from the key administrators as they speak about the core values of the school and share student and institutional successes.
These are just 3 easy ways to develop the path for a parent to move from KNOWING YOU (awareness) to LIKING YOU (affinity). This is a very commonly overlooked path. Schools assume the parent is ready to take the large leap across the pond from awareness to commitment. That rarely happens.
If you want to shore up your marketing system to ensure more parents KNOW, LIKE and ultimately TRUST you, we can help. Click the image below and read about our “9 Steps to Marketing Your School” where you will also learn how to start the conversation with us about assisting your school.