3 Ways to Improve Your School's Brand Recall

For most schools, the biggest opportunity for growth comes from taking families from enrolling zero times to enrolling once.

Let me explain why this mental model is crucial to your school’s growth.

Starting with zero means, you’ll start from the right place – a place which assumes most of your parents don’t know your school, don’t have the time to think much about it and certainly don’t care about your advertising.

Our research throughout 2018 suggests that only 16% of school advertising is both recalled and correctly attributed to the proper school.

This serves as a sobering warning that you better make your advertising distinctive enough to make an impact and well-branded enough so parents remember who it’s from.

Here are a few hands-on tips to improve recollection:

1. Focus on one theme per campaign
An analysis by Millward Brown provides evidence that the more messages you try to communicate, the less likely any of them will be recalled.
Think of it this way, when you throw people one tennis ball they may catch it; if you throw them lots they’ll drop them all.

Parent's can only digest so much information at a time. Here is a list of themes to focus on: safety, academic excellence, extracurriculars & outdoor activities, personalized learning & PBL, love of learning, parent engagement & PTO, technology & makerspace, study skills coaching, re-enrollment, music & band, career prep, character & leadership building, christian foundations, bilingual education, arts & crafts, high grade facilities, convenience, health & nutrition, community engagement...

2. Use emotional copy
According to Binet & Field’s work, emotional campaigns are 2x as likely to be effective as rational ones in achieving parent recollection.

For example, instead of simply boasting about your small class sizes why don't you address the parent directly?

"Are you happiest in a crowd or with close friends?
Will your child learn best en masse or in a small group with individual care?  
We think your learner will love the low student-teacher ratio at {school name}.
Compassion, collaboration, and critical thinking don’t come in a big class.
Our small groups allow hands-on learning opportunities and freedom of thought."

3. Balance brand-building and enrollment activation
Getting the balance right between your school’s long-term brand-building and short-term enrollment activation is important for maximum enrollment effectiveness.
To do this you’ll have to experiment with creatives and copywriting between creating memories and activating them to trigger parents towards inquiring.

Following a number of trust building campaigns don't be afraid to be direct.
You should go ahead and ask parents who have engaged with your ads to inquire. You'll be surprised how many need this final nudge to take the leap.

*adapted from Tom Roach's "Most Marketing is Bad Because it Ignores the Most Basic Data" (BBH labs) written December 4, 2017