500,000+ Parent Inquiries Have Taught Us These Four Things


You want to be the school that gets to financial stability with calm; serenely and quietly.

You don't want to be the school that succeeds but needs to hustle; with high strung leadership, a high-pressure environment, tense board meetings.

Five years in enrollment marketing and 500,000+ parent inquiries have given us only four major insights.


To get parents' attention, you don't need to be annoying, and you don't need to be provocative.

When you go to the circus and see a bear dancing, it is kind of fun.
If you see a guy on a unicycle, it may be kind of entertaining.


How about seeing a bear dancing on a unicycle?
Now that is worth your attention.

Parents, like all people, pay attention to combinations that are not supposed to fit together.

Another example...
I was watching the Hong Kong protests last week on the news.
Two protesters were explaining how they have adopted Bruce Lee's "... be formless, shapeless, like water . . ." to avoid a government crackdown.

So I sat down to watch his signature movie "The Dragon" over the weekend and it got me thinking...
It's no wonder he's become a cultural icon.

His persona is an unusual combination of profound life aphorisms and mixed martial arts. Acting, directing, martial arts, philosophy - all aspects of a life that do not sit well together.

What are two or three things about your school that would sit awkwardly together?  Which value propositions could you combine to grab attention and drive a compelling display of your identity?
- Maths through Bible enactments?
- STEM & cooking?
- Business history and summer internships?




In substance, there is only one thing parents want most.
There is only one way they will spare some time for you.
There is only one reason they will give you the benefit of the doubt.

They know you are the experts in teaching, educating, inspiring their children.
But they need to know that you know who is in charge.
They need to know that you will listen to them, you will respect them, you will tend to their priorities.

Shedding your pride and being humble in all of your interactions is often the shortest route to winning them over.



You can never actually persuade parents about the merits of your school.

Focusing your efforts on trying to change the mind of a parent using rational arguments is a waste of your time and money.

You can't drop information on them like confetti and expect them to soak it up.

If something is ever going to get across, it's going to be through osmotic communication, not instruction.
Osmotic communication is when an idea flows into the background hearing of parents so that they pick up relevant information through gradual or unconscious absorption.
Much like a song playing regularly in the background, you get to know the melody and lyrics without even knowing its name.

Your school's message has to blend into the parents' daily routines and become subconscious background information.




If you want to persuade, appeal to interest not to reason.
- Benjamin Franklin

Our self-serving bias makes it that we'll be persuaded about nearly anything as long as it's in our interest.
Your campaigns should be more about how the parent will benefit from choosing your school and less about why your school is the best option in the community.