For some reason, some of us have a difficult time talking about our schools in a very public setting. Perhaps it’s that we learned to be humble, and that mindset has carried over into how we market (or don’t market) our schools. I personally like to think of the Scripture passage that says that no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a bushel basket. We are a light to our communities, and therefore, must let that light shine.
If you want to involve the community in your school, speak to community groups, starting with the Chamber of Commerce. They’re always looking for ways to help in the community. What’s even better is if you join the Chamber of Commerce. Then you’re in a networking situation, and able to present your school to other community businesses and organizations at their events.
And yes, it’s more to do. There’s ALWAYS more to do! However, remember that when Jesus healed the blind man, the hemorrhaging woman, and the leper, his powerful deeds were told by those who witnessed the miracles to others – to the point that crowds pressed in on Him wherever he went. It’s a great example of the effectiveness of positive word of mouth marketing.
Telling a compelling story about your school’s successes is key. Community members really don’t want to hear that you need their help. Why? They hear it from everyone ALL. THE. TIME. Please help us make a difference in the lives of… Please help our organization continue to operate… Please help honor the tradition of service we’ve provided…. If those lines sound familiar, it’s because every charitable organization uses them. And, just like the parents looking at your school as an educational environment for their children, there needs to be a compelling difference from everyone else. And yes, it may be compelling in your mind, but is it compelling to the heart of a prospective parent, or to the heart of a prospective donor?
And don’t give them facts and figures in the form of bullet points. That’s great for an executive summary of a research project, but not for a major gift ask. Successful people want to be part of successful organizations. Success begets success. Even Jesus said, “Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Mk 4:25). We tend to think of that as the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. However, there needs to be something successful about your school. You need to define whatever that success is in terms of how it has provided a benefit to a student, a family or the community at large.
Have a compelling story to tell about your school and its successes. Speak it, because telling a great story is way more than marketing…it’s evangelization!
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2019 (Original Publication Date: 20090928)