Turnaround Marketing Communications' goal is to make your school known for what it wants to be known for, help your school attract the qualified students you want, motivate the donors you need, and make connections with the alumnae/i you want to reach. Forward-Thinking is a sampling of the kind of advice we give our clients.
We asked ourselves, "What do school marketers need to make their job easier?"
Answer: A professional development association to call their own.
Question: Why don't we create one for them?
Answer: That would be cool...and make it free.
Senior parents at graduation are filled with emotion about their child and your school. Tap into that marketing resource by documenting their voices.
Here's a tale about how one organization tried to bring a long lost volunteer back into the fold and instead of pushed her away even further. It might have been a donor, volunteer or alum at your school. Don't let this bash to your brand happen to you. This post originally appeared on InspirED School Marketers Juice Blog
When the brand report is new, there's a laser-like focus on strategy. A year or so later, you may be been too busy putting out fires to think strategically. Do yourself a favor. Go back and re-read the brand report. It will be an eye-opener.
Fewer and fewer prospective parents have an independent school background themselves. This means it’s incumbent upon you—the school— to educate them on the benefits of independent schools in general and your school in particular. This is a tall order with the first “barrier to sale” being a huge one: tuition.
Why does a family seek out an independent school in general and yours in particular? They are motivated. What motivates them is that they have at least one “pain point” — a need, want, or problem — that your school addresses. Start your marketing with that pain point.
When I'm waxing nostalgic about my boarding school days, I'd love to be able to access my yearbooks online. Not only will they jog my fading memories, but they will also reconnect me with my alma mater in ways nothing else can. Every school should make this relatively inexpensive investment in alumnae/i relations.
Your school has just gone through a brand development process, possibly working with an outside firm or creating it in-house. Your committee celebrates when you finally approve the final language that describes your school, the incredible value it brings to your families, what makes it unique and how it changes lives. Now it’s time to start using that new brand language...
After 20 years of working with school marketers, I asked myself, "What do they really need to do their jobs well? How can I help them when they're not my current client?" I pondered that thought for many weeks—months even. Then InspirED School Marketers came to me as a lightbulb moment.
As the director of marketing communications at an independent school, do you feel overwhelmed? Do projects rarely run as smoothly as you’d like? Have trouble keeping track of their status? If the answer is "yes" to any of these, you are not alone. We're here to help. FREE FABULOUS EXCEL TEMPLATE. CLICK ON "CREATIVE BRIEF."
All too often, schools do the work of branding without providing the people and processes to ensure its success. Here’s what you need to lay a solid foundation.
When a school is ready to develop its brand, one of the first questions many ask themselves is: Can we do this ourselves?
In branding, even little things count. In fact, sometimes the little things have such a huge impact that your school’s image skyrockets or sinks as a result. In the case of answering the phone, it’s not only about how you present the school, but also about how you make the caller feel.
Rob and I were lucky to be chosen by Brendan Schneider, the school social media guru who is famous for his blog on SchneiderB, to be interviewed about branding for school on his (now famous) podcast. Get to know us by listening in.
With so much branding, marketing, and social media going on, we rarely look at what gives people their first impression of an independent school’s image: the name itself. While you can’t do anything to change your school’s name, you can and should look at it from your external audience’s point of view.
"We have small classes, dedicated faculty, we educate the whole child and create a lifelong love of learning, and we have a community that's like family." Is this how you describe your school? Don't.
A style guide is difficult to create because it requires foresight, decision-making, and commitment, but it’s worth its weight in gold once completed. It tells your internal and external communities that you have hard-and-fast rules about your graphic identity and editorial conventions, and that there are few exceptions.
Like it or not, independent schools, like all academic institutions, are businesses. As such, schools must pay attention to keeping parents happy, much as businesses must keep customers happy. Schools should make every effort to keep “normal” parents—those with appropriate expectations—happy, because parents are your best marketers.
The hot, viral marketing stories that come to the forefront of our minds are wildly successful, but rare. Brand development takes time…a long time. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul to garner spectacular success.
There are many vehicles you use to communicate with your audiences and market your school. How integrated are they? Are you sending the same brand messages for all of them? Do they look like they’re visually connected to one another? Are you representing your school with one voice, or are there tens of voices doing their own thing?
Independent schools spend a great deal of time and money on brand development, but some lose momentum after the first year. What happened? We think we know.
So you’ve determined you’re buying ad space. What makes a strategically-driven, well-executed open house ad? I’m going to offer recommendations and show a number of ads, but leave the assessments up to you. Do any of them hit the mark? What’s missing in some that are otherwise effective?
We have an idea. Create a “slogan” for the enrollment year and plaster it on everything you do for admissions. Make it exciting, interesting, and memorable. Have it lead the charge and carry your other brand messages along with it. “But we have a tagline. Isn’t that the same thing?” No.
Change is difficult. It creates feelings of being unsettled and anxious. As a result, people resist change and defer to the status quo, even when they know what is in place isn’t working. If you know you need a new logo, try this recipe to help your school embrace the change.
Is print dead? Have viewbooks past their prime? Do they have one foot in the grave? Isn't everything digital? Our answer is: not yet. And here’s why:
Client: We have to reprint the viewbook!
Me: Why? You have 4,000 left.
Client: Because the dark-haired girl on the cover left the school.
I am pleased to say that I’ve worked with a number of truly excellent independent school marketing committees over the years. I’ve also worked with a number of committees that generated marketing efforts, which confirmed, “A Camel is a Horse Designed by Committee.” What's the difference?
Answering one big fat question is the key to driving inquiries. It's simple, or at least the words are. The answer is more elusive for most schools, but shouldn't be. "Why is your school worth it?
Congratulations to all who are taking new positions at an independent school. For those of you who have marketing responsibilities, I’ve prepared a checklist of things you’ll need to get you going. While it’s just a beginning, it should give you a jumpstart. (I hope you got a great office!)
Brendan Schneider is Director of Advancement at Sewickley Academy by day, and independent school inbound marketing superhero in his spare(!) time. He invited us for a virtual cup of coffee and a chat. Brendan lobbed some great questions over the net.