In the world of marketing, too many admission folks tend to dream up this idea that if we just spend the right amount of money on the slickest ad in the fanciest magazine, then enrollment will increase.
Rarely does that happen. And even if we offer a few exceptions, it is certainly not the rule and most likely you know it.
But in schools, admission folks tend to think like this:
ADVERTISE . . . APPLY
Again, going back to the very unusual title to this article, would you marry your school after the first date?
When I talk with schools about this KNOW-LIKE-TRUST, I liken it to the typical “dating” relationship. When I dated my wife, we got to KNOW each other. We subsequently spent a considerable amount of time together the next 18 months really LIKING each other (but not yet talking long-term commitment). But as we learned to TRUST one another, it became obvious. We then sealed that trust in a covenant of marriage (we celebrate 22 years this December).
On Monday, August 21, much of the United States will have a view of the next solar eclipse, varying on where you live (here in Texas, we are going to see 75%-85% I think).
I do have past clients along the TOTALITY pathway. St. Joseph Christian School north of Kansas City is selling T-shirts that blend the eclipse and their school logo together (here’s a link to their Facebook page about the shirts). Another school is having an eclipse-related outdoor party for the kids celebrating this unique event of this school year.
In terms of marketing, I look at special events like this with an angle of doing something different than everyone else. Most schools will be in fall session and if they are, they will likely take a few minutes out of their day and go outside to view the eclipse through the special required safety goggles or through the pinhole projectors best used for young kids who may not yet be trusted to keep their goggles on when looking at the eclipse!
But if you are a private school in a competitive marketplace, you have to think out of the box! Your question should be, when approaching an event everyone around you is also celebrating or recognizing, is this: “how we do it differently?” In addition, on any special day, the local news media is looking for ways that different people in their community recognize the day. In some ways, this is one of your target audiences: the media. And the point, of course, is to use their mass reach to reach masses of people, some of whom are your ideal audience.
To get your creative juices going this week, here is a random list of ideas you can do to celebrate the 2017 Solar Eclipse:
View the “Planning Your Eclipse Party” on NASA’s website – get lots of practical hands-on learning activities to use with your students, watch animations and videos describing the celestial phenomenon, etc.
Get up there – whether or not you actually get on your school’s roof or not, the idea is to create the feeling of getting closer to the sky. Host a brief dance party so you can legitimately share with all your students your amazing ability to lip sync Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 classic, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (just don’t show them the creepy video 🙂
Make a video – speaking of Bonnie Tyler’s song, perhaps you can grab some creative students or staff and do a parody of that video with words about the 2017 eclipse. As crazy as it sounds, that’s the stuff that goes viral on social media! Here’s a humorous video parodying the Bonnie Tyler video itself (it’s been viewed over 3 million times!)
Monday “Night” Lights – for a short while, some of you will be experiencing varying degrees of darkness, so turn on the football field lights and have some fun! Most field days are reserved for the spring, but there’s no rule in an exceptional year that you can have some fun outdoors for a few minutes “under the lights”.
Monday “Night” Lights (Part 2) – while it may not fit your normal weekly schedule, have an early outdoor pep rally for your upcoming football or fall sports. Have a coaches 3-on-3 football game and let the kids pick the side they are cheering for.
Band formation – this is beyond my ability, but perhaps you have a band director or creative thinker who can organize a moving “human eclipse” with your students. Capturing this with a drone camera would certainly offer some viral video that your parents and news media would love to get their hands on!
Viewing party – put the word out on social media that you would like to invite the entire community to your sports stadium to watch the eclipse. In some towns, your stadium may be one of the largest outdoor venues, so use it strategically and treat guests like honor guests!
Eclipse Eats – you can go crazy with food ideas with an eclipse theme: Moon pie, Eclipse brand gum and Sun chips are easy to pick up at your local store and pass out to students in goodie bags or to take around to various churches, fire and police stations and other community offices. Or you can have a bake off with a fun contest with creative eclipse pancakes, eclipse cookies (sugar cookies and Oreo cookies), etc. The sky’s the limit (pun intended!)
You can do any one of these things and have some fun and possibly create some intentional publicity and buzz about your school . . . or you can just do whatever one else is doing.