You know that the most powerful marketing strategy is Word of Mouth.  Not only is it the most effective, it’s the least expensive too, since creating positive “buzz” about the remarkable things your school does costs much less than any type of advertising through the media.

But is it really the least expensive?  In purely fiscal terms, yes.  However, consider these five phrases:

What’s the most powerful form of advertising?  Word of mouth!

Even if the information is the complete and honest truth?  Word of mouth!

Even if the information is wrong?  Word of mouth!

Even if the information is partially correct?  Word of mouth!

Even if the information is completely negative?  Word of mouth!

What does this mean for your school?  If something great happens at your school, remember that an average of 3 to 5 people will initially talk about it, eventually affecting their friends and relatives, who will spread the word to their friends and relatives, and perhaps several of them will be prompted to find out more about your school.  If you do something that is not so great (and perhaps even detrimental to your school’s image), about 250 people will hear about it quickly AND will form an opinion from what they heard, rather than finding out all sides of the story.

Those figures were taken from a text written before the Internet existed titled “How to Sell Anything to Anybody” by Joe Girard.  Now, information exchange is instantaneous, and opinions are formed faster than ever before.  Word of Mouth (or, perhaps, more correctly today, Word of iPhone or Word of Blog or Word of Web site or Word of Tweet) is extremely powerful and potent, both positively and negatively.

While it’s said that any publicity is good publicity, it helps to have some type of strategy in place when negative Word of Mouth happens.   As for positive Word of Mouth, the more positive and remarkable things your school is doing, the more it needs to share those stories…not about your school, but about the people who are making those things happen.  People relate to people.

Who must share these positive stories?  The parents of the children in your school.  If all they do in the marketplace is share negativity, complain, and say what they think before they know all sides of the story, then it’s no wonder school enrollments are decreasing.

At your next in-person parent association meeting, try this little exercise.  Ask the parents there if they believe that your school is the best educational environment for their child.  Ask them to say “yes” by standing up.

Then ask everyone in the room to close their eyes.

Then ask if they’ve ever said anything negative about the school in public to anyone, and if they have, without opening their eyes, ask them to please sit down.  If you see everyone sit down, then it’s time to have this conversation about the effects of positive and negative Word of Mouth Marketing with them.

Now ask those that are still standing to be seated, and then ask them to open their eyes, since your eyes are now open to the type of parent community you have at your school.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2020h (Original Publication Date: 20050425)

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