Most school heads I talk to are frustrated about one thing. They're doing amazing things at their school day-in and day-out, but few parents notice.
"If only we could show parents what we do?
When I get them here, I enroll 99% of them..."
School heads feel that to get the word out; they have to reach everyone in their community. I'd call this 'megaphone' thinking. Blast your message, and parents will come. You are seeking out attention at all costs.
This leads to a race to the bottom.
You are making your message easy to swallow, too short, sort of fun, good enough.
Megaphones are for flea markets.
Often, long conversations with schools can be summed up as "take out the nuance; what matters is getting in front of parents."
Attention is necessary but not sufficient. Of course, we should put out a jarring, intriguing, visual message that stops parents in their tracks. Of course, we should bring them out of their daily stupor, but that's the easy part.
Schools shouldn’t focus only on attention. A huge red billboard is noticeable, but so is a man on stilts juggling fireballs.
The value for your school's brand comes AFTER we grab parents' attention. That's when we've got about 15 seconds to start gaining trust.
For this, we need to convey a profound, yet digestible message.
Marketing your school should be like drinking a glass of tannic, full-bodied white wine. A lot of effort, experience, and complexity (location, climate, soil, aspect, drainage, air movement, fog, row direction, training methods) baked into a very short but wonderful sensual experience.
It should be brief but gripping. It shuts off all other senses and brings you to the present moment.
Trust and attention, the endless dance.
The pressure to produce results for your school and to stand out in a sea of competition is immense.
Often school marketers feel like there’s no option but to interrupt parents wherever they are or to treat them as simple numbers on a spreadsheet.
Our schools' frustration originates from this tangle:
Grab attention vs. go deep and persuade; candy vs. wine, where is our focus?
Well, it is possible to have the best of both worlds. Technology has made it very affordable to get in front of parents at a hyperlocal level. Forget billboards and mailers; there are much cheaper ways.
So we can now focus all our effort and energy on delivering enticing, crisp, yet thoughtful messaging. There is a better way to stand out; a way that will always work, regardless of the competitive landscape or the marketing flavor-of-the-month.
Remarkable marketing helps you stand out, be noticed, and trusted by treating families the way YOU would like to be treated.
School leaders often forget that the word 'inquiry' is not about merely attracting prospective families. It is, in fact, an instance of curiosity and discovery.
We are responsible for making the whole experience thoughtful and intriguing.