A number years ago, I subscribed to a service now called Outstand (http://www.outstand.com) to keep in better contact with my client schools and a number of other constituent groups. If you’re using a service for your email marketing and communication, you should choose one that allows you to create targeted eCommunications to your varied constituent groups, rather than creating and sending one email to your entire list. You might use MailChimp or some other email communication service to keep in touch with your constituencies. One of the great features of these services is their resources to help become a more effective consultative sales representative.
Now before you say to yourself, “What does being a sales person have to do with me?” (Oops, too late, you’ve already said it – or, at least, thought it), let me tell you that being skilled in the ways of sales has EVERYTHING to do with your enrollment efforts to grow your school. Of course you think your school is the best place for children to be. Similarly, of course, I think that FACTS is the best tuition management company out there, which is why I work for them.
So why don’t all schools use FACTS for their tuition management? Probably because of the same reasons more parents don’t enroll their children in your school: “We’re happy with how things are right now;” “I don’t want to change;” or “If anything changes, I’ll let you know.” Just as your school is an agent of change, shaping and forming the minds of your students, the sales process is also an exercise in change management, but changing the mindsets of your school’s constituent groups.
If Marketing is Education (and it is), then Enrollment is Sales – and your school’s Development efforts are sales processes too! Both Enrollment and Development are the long-term goals school administrators need to grasp and begin doing now since the fruit of those efforts will only be seen 3 to 5 years down the road. Put plans involving these two elements off for another year, then you’re looking 4 to 6 years down the road from today to see results. Don’t have enough time? Too much on your plate for that second year? That means seeing results 5 to 7 years down the road from where you first thought about it, and the majority of the kids in your school will no longer be in your school by that time.
If you’ve been a visitor to SchoolAdvancement.com, you’ll know that Marketing is a “medium-term process” that drives the “long-term processes” of Enrollment and Development, and involves sharing emotionally engaging positive stories and successes about your school with parents of prospective students, as well as potential and current donors. Email is just one way that we can reach all those constituent groups mentioned in last week’s Marketing Matters article (alumni, businesses, community members, donors, parents of current students, parents of prospective students and friends of your school).
In this season of preparation, here are some ways you can be preparing better email communication for these constituents. These ideas came from some of the Webinars I spoke of in the opening paragraph of this week’s article.
Δ When creating content:
- Use a three-step approach to writing content for your Blog, Web site or email program.
- Use a word processing program (like Microsoft Word) to write your content first, instead of writing directly into the Blog, Web site or email software you’re using. Using Word or a similar program will allow you to see some grammar mistakes or misspellings, but then remember that spellcheck will miss correctly spelled words which are not used correctly.
- Copy and paste the text into Notepad or another non-formatted document creation tool. Doing this will remove the formatting from your word processing program, which may be difficult to correct in your Blog, Web site, or email program. Save the document as the “backup” copy of your content.
- Copy and paste the text to your Blog, Web site or eMail program for publication or distribution.
Δ When posting to social media, use this process:
- Post to your school’s Blog or Web site first;
- Post a “teaser” to your Facebook page and link it to the complete article on your school’s Blog or Web site;
- Post a “tweet” to your Twitter account and link it to the complete article on your school’s Blog or Web site;
- Then send an email to your constituent groups with a link to the complete article on your school’s Blog or Web site.
Following these steps allows your school’s Blog or Web site to become the main repository for all information about your school.
Δ When writing emails:
- Break down sentences and paragraphs – eyes catch breaks, periods and white space. A lot of words means a lot of people won’t read what you have to say. “Too many words” means “I don’t have time for this.” That’s why many articles today available on line have approximate time lengths on how long it will take the reader to get through the article.
- Make paragraphs more than 4 lines long have long bullet points, and use something other than a dot as a bullet point indicator if you can (Note the Δ bullet point indicator in this article). Further, only use numbers if a process is involved (see the above paragraph). Bullet points means ALL items are necessary – but place the most important one first, since we’ve been conditioned to think that what is placed first is of primary importance.
- Place a “Call to Action” on a line by itself to catch attention – perhaps even bold it!
- If you’re writing a letter, then “Sincerely yours,” or “All the best,” are great closing words since they “finalize” the communication. Email, however, is interactive. Use “Looking forward to hearing from you,” “What do you think?” or “Can’t wait to see what you have to say” to allow the conversation to continue.
Also, you might want to consider using 80% black (charcoal) rather than a pure black color for your text. Apparently there is research that says there’s more of a chance of your email getting read if you can use a lighter shade of black.
You’ll also note that all these suggestions are included in this email. If you’ve read this far, I’ve proved my points.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2020 (Original Publication Date: 20101206)