You may recognize the title of this article as the first line of the lyric to the Pink Floyd song, “Comfortably Numb.”  What does that have to do with marketing your school?  Three things:

  1. Something familiar will capture someone’s attention, especially when it seems incongruous to something that’s expected.  For instance, the original title of this article when it was published fifteen – YES, FIFTEEN – years ago was “Hello…Is There Anybody Out There.”  That seems to be more in line with marketing, since you’re trying to reach parents of prospective students of your school in the marketplace.  And, with a nod to another popular song, I’m reminded of the words to Don McLean’s “Vincent:” “They did not listen.”
  2. To be effective in marketing, you need to move people out of their comfort zones, and pique their interest with something remarkably different about your school.  Unfortunately, most faith-based schools market themselves by saying they offer a safe educational environment, where a focus on faith formation and academic excellence is fostered.  If that sounds like your school, that’s great…but it’s not remarkably different from other faith-based school in your market.
  3. With the explosion of social media today, and the omnipresent effect of technology, it’s quite easy to become either numb or upset with messages being presented today.  You need to break through the noise with messages that offer hope to a world in need of hope.

The resultant principle hinges on the word, “In.”  Is there anyone “In” your school today?  Probably not.  It’s July, and most educational leaders encourage their staff to take their vacations during July.  Some schools I’m familiar with shut down for the whole month of July!   But what about the rest of the week?  Or the rest of the month?  Let’s start with “who,” as in, “Who will be there to answer the call of the family that is looking to tour your school since they just moved in to the area?”  After all, that’s one of the WFH issues today – people are moving to places where the cost of living is more affordable since they either still have the ability to work from home, will seek out new opportunities where they can work from home, or will be starting their own businesses and work from home.

And speaking of “who,” who’s the most important person in your school’s marketing and enrollment processes (yes, marketing is a completely different process from enrollment)?  The principal?  The pastor?  The business manager?  While these people serve important functions in building your school’s enrollment, the most important one would be THE RECEPTIONIST/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/SECRETARY, followed closely by THE MAINTENANCE PERSON. These are the people who prospective parents will, more than likely, first encounter when they call the school.

Therefore, if these individuals do not practice professional courtesy when answering the phone, or know how to properly direct telephone messages, or convey the message that the last thing on their “important do list” is answering the phone, then some Dale Carnegie training may be in order. They are your school’s “second impression,” and their telephone techniques and courtesy will go a long way to show how prospective parents will be treated when they call the school.

Why is this your school’s “second impression?”  The first impression is your school’s Web site.  It seems fitting to say this since you may be reading this on SchoolAdvancement’s Web site that was designed five years ago with “the mobile experience” in mind first, rather than thinking about how it looks on a computer first.  But that’s another topic for another day.

Since we’re talking about schools, let’s have a little test.  When you’re not in the office this summer, call your school’s main number and see how you are greeted. If you were a prospective parent and were treated this way, would you want to enroll your child into your school? If not, then why are the phones still being answered that way?

© Michael V. Ziemski,, 2006-2021 (Original publication date: 20060703)