You’ve been telling us over and over that your school is unique.
And we believe you... Most schools we work with have truly unique stories, a truly unique team or a truly unique set of values.
You’re frustrated because you’re finding it hard to get your school's magic and your delightful charm across.
You’ve said repeatedly:
“If only I could get them to know we are here. We're a hidden gem. If only we could blast our message and get them on campus, I would get nine out of ten parents to enroll their kids”.
So, you’re wondering whether you should continue with billboards, mailers, and flyers.
Or if you should take the advice of all these cocky young know-it-alls, springing up right and left, and move to digital advertising.
Before deciding you have to consider this one proven fact.
Parents are mostly hesitant, insecure and unaware of what their options are. They love their kids more than anything and at the same time are terrified about letting them down.
Imagine a mother having to come to terms with the fact that her son might have a less prosperous, less joyful, more sterile life than herself.
This is what keeps her up at night, eyes droopy, lips tight and stiff.
Your job above all else is to talk to those fears.
But as school leaders, you are often cursed with the burden of experience and expertise.
The curse of expertise means that you often take for granted what the average parent needs to hear about your school.
You end up focusing your pitch on what you consider convincing rather than what persuades the prospective parent.
Forget all the confusing marketing techniques for a moment. Drop all your opinions and assumptions about your school.
Try answering these questions with an open mind and fresh eyes -just like a beginner:
- How can I convince Jill, who is considering us, that my school, my staff, and my programs are the best shot she’s got for her 11-year-old son?
- How does my school take him one step closer to a joyful, prosperous and balanced life?
- How do I pacify her fears? Show her that we’ll unburden her by partnering with her to give her son the best chances for a good life?”
This is not going to be easy.
Because building a convincing argument for your school is only the beginning.
Parents are creatures of habit. You only have to look at their day-to-day rituals to see how patterns permeate their lives. The things they do on rinse and repeat. The brands they always buy. The supermarket aisles they choose to walk down. The neighbors they avoid...
They are mostly on autopilot.
Tapping into parents' emotions is perhaps the only way to convey your school's brand, your mission and get them thinking about alternatives.
Consider what you are asking parents to do:
- Stop what they are doing, break away from their daily routine and look at your ad.
- Read a thoughtful message and engage with it deeply.
- Start considering whether they are happy with their current choice of school.
- Compare their current selection with your school's promise.
- Visualize themselves and their family making such a big change.
- Assess the downside risks and potential opportunity.
- Decide it is worth a shot and reach out to schedule a tour.
- Plan ahead and fit a 2hr slot into their busy schedule.
And the list goes on...
That's asking for a lot.
Just repeating a generic tagline (i.e., small class sizes) won’t cut it.
They’ll simply continue scrolling, and you’ll have thrown your marketing dollars down the drain.
So deeply educating your parent audience about your school is everything.
Persuading parents is hardly ever the result of them making u-turns en masse as soon as they see a catchy school motto.
School growth happens when one parent at a time takes a small step towards an alternative. Educating parents, just like educating students, takes time and repetition.
This is the main reason that digital works better than traditional media.
Education requires repetition and repetition is proven to be 10X easier, cheaper and more effective on digital compared to print media.