This is the first of four Marketing Matters for the season of Advent.  Their intent is to help prepare your school for the next school year, because this year is half over.  More correctly, unless you’re instituting something groundbreaking and different for your school in January, this school year should already be planned out, making it “over” from a planning perspective.

Much has been written about what happens when parents call your school.  Are phone calls answered by a real person, or by a recording that says, “Thank you for calling All Saints School.  Please listen carefully, because our options have recently changed.”  But sometimes, that’s not the worst of it.

Some time ago, I called a school and was placed on hold while being transferred to the individual I was calling.  To my pleasant surprise, I heard music on hold.  Many Christian schools I call have praise music playing.  However, this school had a radio station playing.  After the song finished, the disc jockey back announced the song, said what artists were coming up, and launched into their commercial stack.

So what did I hear?  An advertisement for a car with big model year-end savings? No.  Something worse.  The ad began, “Men, are you worried that you’re not fulfilling your partner’s…”

Luckily, I was connected to the person I was calling at that moment and didn’t have to listen to the complete advertisement for some type of product that would have never been advertised on the radio just a few years ago.  I’m glad I wasn’t a parent calling the school either.  That’s not the type of thing I’d want to hear while waiting to find out when the next open house would be held!

If your school has music on hold, then don’t play a radio station (by the way, if you don’t have the proper licenses from music publishers ASCAP and BMI, you could be fined for doing so).  With today’s digital technology, have a tech-savvy parent (or maybe even some of the tech-savvy teens – it would be a great service project for them) create some on hold messages for your school telling about its excellent environment for formation, Christ-centered values, personalized instruction, exemplary test schools, competitive sports, and, most importantly, your school’s most remarkable qualities!  Maybe even use the voices of some of your students!  Voices don’t have to be identified and don’t hold the same identifying characteristics (like photos and names) that usually accompany Web site posting or video usage.  Produce the messages with some production music background (available from a local radio station or video production company) and put them on a digital music player (and yes, there are still iPods available.  They can do everything an iphone can do…except make dataplan connections).  Choose shuffle if you have several messages created, and connect it to your phone system’s music on hold input plug.

What would you rather hear if you were calling your school – messages about your school’s achievements and parents who are raving fans of your school , or – well – just about anything else you can imagine.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2018 (Original Publication Date: 20081201)