by Michael Horsey
Communicating to prospective families parents that there is a tangible return on their tuition investment in their child - this is the message we convey to parents through "little stories." These little stories are how we take the abstract concept of an independent school education and turn it into the concrete concept of our individual school. Our little stories may be communicated verbally while giving a tour, they may be in a viewbook, on a website, on a billboard, in a media advertisement, or as part of a presentation at open house. For me, the challenge is: how can we communicate the fact that an independent school education provides measureable return on their investment?
With public schools building stunning new facilities, and offering magnet and international baccalaureate programs, parents have more options than ever before. And with the cost of colleges, especially private institutions, continuing to rise, we have to find the most cost-effective means of getting our message across. Here are some new ideas for your consideration:
|Alumni Wall at Schenck School, Atlanta|
|Last week I visited Schenck School in Atlanta, an institution for dyslexic children. As part of the school's fiftieth anniversary, Ellen Hill, Placement Director, invited alumni to send her a photo, an update on their status, and a few lines about Schenck. Ellen has framed these herself and hung them around the halls. What better way to demonstrate inexpensively to touring parents how Schenck has contributed to the consequent success of their alumni. The fact that Schenck children go on to Atlanta's most prestigious independent schools is abundantly clear to visiting families.|
|Life-sized Static Wall Clings|
Admittedly this is one my outside-of-the box ideas! I have been exploring marketing concepts with a former student of mine who graduated from Stanford in marketing who now works as a consultant for Accenture, which bills his services at $1200 an hour! We developed the concept of creating life-sized static wall clings at a cost of $130 each. The idea is to place 5 or 6 figures around your school tour; so that visiting families would round a corner and literally run into a graduate accompanied by a short description of his career at the school and then of his college career, and perhaps first job. This is a concrete way to illustrate how an education at your school translates into a return on investment. The images are easily moved and stored in their shipping tubes. Several companies make them: I did this one in ten minutes on Fathead.com.
|Open House Yard Sign|
I've described using open house yard signs to create brand awareness, by putting the signs in your current families' neighborhoods. Here is an example I had made up. $10 in quantity. Ask your families to use them just for the 10 days preceding your open house.
The last photo shows a glass topped table in Greg Ferrell's office at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. Below the glass, he's showcased spotlights of the school's achievements. A great way to tell the story without speaking a word!