The song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from “Les Miserables” has one of the most powerful lyrics of hopelessness ever penned, complete with a haunting melody. The show capitalizes on the piece’s impact by having the ghosts of those that have been killed in battle fade in to appear for several lines of the song before fading away.

With that in mind, let’s consider your school’s marketing materials.  I’m sure your school has a brochure or packet of information…maybe even a publication that serves as an annual report to your parents and donors.  And if you haven’t realized your school needs a well-designed, inviting and responsive Web site, then let this be just another reminder that your school is not going to thrive until it gets one.

This summer is a good time to seriously re-evaluate your marketing collateral, perhaps from the bottom up.  Consider your school’s position, its brand, its remarkable differences, its experience for your parents, and its results as demonstrated in your students. Descriptions of those elements then must be crafted in such as way that it gets parents of prospective students to have an emotional “tug” to get them into your school for a tour or some type of event that will “blow them away,” making them want to enroll their children in your school.

With that in mind, which of these two photos do you think is more emotionally compelling?







I hope you picked the one on the left.  Even the child in the back of the room seems to be smiling while reading his text.  The photo on the right looks like it should be on the front of a “for sale” brochure rather than on one meant to attract new parents. Notice I did not say attract new students, since you’re not marketing your school to students.  Students’ friends will do that for you.  You are marketing your school to today’s parents…and if they’re going to pay significant dollars for an education, they’re going to want to make sure their children are smiling.  After all, if they’re not, there are other educational options (public, charter, cyber-charter, home) which they can choose.

Please realize that for important shots like this, it’s paramount to get professional help.  The days of just taking a picture are over – unless a parent or volunteer in your school is a professional photographer or is one of those “over-the-top” hobbyists.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2011-20121 (Original Publication Date – 20110613)