I admit that my possibly offensive title probably sounds like I think volunteers are a nuisance. Actually, the point of this article is to help you find practical ways to involve school volunteers who are always asking, “how can I help?”
First of all, while volunteers are a blessing, they come with conditions. It cannot be denied that volunteers on your marketing team operate differently than paid staff or outsourced consultants. Administrative officials and hired contractors work for results which are often tied to how much money they make or how long they keep their job. It’s one reason to consider NOT assigning critical, timely marketing tasks to volunteers. While they may indicate a willingness and eagerness to help, they MAY not operate with the same sense of urgency you have. Nor may they offer the same level of excellence you would demand of an employee or contractor. You want to have the freedom to dislike their work without feeling like you are going to offend them and run them off from volunteering ever again (or worse, writing a bad review about your school . . . uh, see #7 below). You want to be able to “fire” them if they do not perform. But how do you fire a non-paid volunteer?
So what jobs can you create for your eager beavers? Here are 7 ideas your school volunteers can do from any computer or mobile device: (more…)
Who determines your school’s online reputation? Do you control this? What about those things said about your school online?
Managing your school’s online reputation requires diligence, not just a casual glance from time to time. You spend thousands of hours and dollars to project your school’s perfectly crafted brand messaging, attempting to communicate your school’s value with the needs of prospective families. But do you have control over all that is said? In one fell swoop
Here are 3 common areas where negative comments can affect your online reputation:
- Online Review Sites – whether it is GreatSchools.org, your Google listing, or perhaps some other site like Yelp, people have a forum to say pretty much whatever they want (more…)
In a previous post about winning over prospective families for your school, we looked at 4 popular marketing tools that private schools use in showcasing themselves, including your school’s website, the printed marketing collateral, your high-priced overview video and recruiting events.
But let’s be honest: while these are likely necessary elements in your overall marketing mix, there are many prospective families who are not yet ready to commit. One of their most obvious questions is: “does everyone really look that nice?” While some families are easily convinced, others shout out for proof: “Sure, you’re a great school, but show me the evidence!”
Here are 3 ways to showcase this evidence: (more…)
If you are like most schools, you spend alot of time (and money, too) seeking to impress families, showcase your very best, and eventually convert students into full-pay families for not just one year, but until they graduate!
Typically, I see 4 main areas where schools spend alot of resources: (more…)
Sorry to burst your bubble . . . but . . .
You are not the best private school in your city.
You do not have the best teachers.
You do not have the most amazing students.
You do not have the world’s most challenging curriculum, the best teachers, nor do you have the prettiest campus in town.
These are subjective claims most likely also made by your competitors. I once did an exercise with a Christian school client where I extracted all of the copy off their website and their competitors’ home and about pages. Then I removed all the graphics and even replaced each school name with a made-up school name. I then asked them to read through both and pick which one was actually their school. It was shocking to them how long it took for them to decide (and one Head of School even got it wrong!)
Now, if you do get voted “Best Private School” by a local newspaper, you are allowed make this claim with a badge and banner on your website. However, do not put your entire strategy behind this gimmick because you and I both know that the voting next year could go to another school.
Boast about the things that make you unique, different and the things that stand out to a prospective family:
- the dollar amount number of merit-based scholarships received by your graduating seniors
- the number of years your school has been in existence
- the longevity of certain faculty members or your administration
- the specific and recent athletic successes
- the extracurricular offerings you have (which might set you apart if you are the only school in town with MS volleyball)
- the distinct values or worldview by which your school operates and how this is realized on a day-to-day basis
- the fact that your school has all grades on one campus (if it can boast of that)
The above items are just a few examples of what you can state about your school that will be unique, different, or exclusively part of your value proposition.
However, you know what is even more important than bullet points and stats?
Your stories are your #1 guarantee against subjective copycat marketing.
- STUDENTS: Your student success stories tell of accomplishment, achievement and academic or attitudinal transformation that no other school can promote. Their personal journeys are unique to what your school provided them. The power is in their testimonial.
- ALUMNI: Your alumni success stories lay out a consistent future path for prospective parents worried about which college preparatory option can truly produce results.
- PARENTS: The positive experiences of parents who have invested heavily in your school speak volumes to other parents contemplating what educational option offers the best ROI. Positive 5-star online reviews on Google, Facebook and GreatSchools.org are essential in your marketing strategy.
- INSTITUTIONAL: Whether academic, artistic and athletic, your school’s success stories are more than trophies in a glassed-in case in your hallway. They give prospective families an optimistic outlook about their son or daughter experiencing success on stage, on the court, or on the field.
When you listen to the radio, do you ever hear car dealerships claiming things like “we offer the best customer service in town” or “the friendliest staff”? Now ask yourself: do you really believe them?
No, me neither.
When schools make subjective and generic claims that could easily be mirrored by the competing school down the street or across town, they are not offering prospective parents the best story they can give. Rather, give these future moms and dads very specific and unique stories that make your school stand out. Let your school become the new standard in their search for the best school for their child.
Let us help you install a customized marketing system for your school that will help you clarify your unique story.
Randy Vaughn, Christian School Marketing Consutant