In “Parents Talk With Parents – Part 2,” the proposed title was “Parents Talk With Parents, Kids Talk With Kids, Pastors Talk With Pastors, Principals Talk With Principals, and Teachers Talk With Teachers.”

We can also add, “Superintendents Talk With Superintendents, “Businesses Talk With Businesses, and Organizations Talk With Organizations.”

“Word of Mouth” is powerful between any parallel community.  In other words, parents will listen to other parents that extol the virtues of your school. Parents will not necessarily listen to principals that extol the virtues of their schools. Doubt that? Kids will listen to kids, but kids don’t necessarily listen to their parents.  It’s the driving force behind peer pressure.

In business, witness the popularity of sales groups that meet for breakfast once, twice or four times a month to exchange potential prospects based on the conversations they’ve had with current and prospective customers. In sales, “warm leads” (a “referral” from a trusted colleague) is ALWAYS better than a cold call. But a “recommendation” could be just as bad as a cold call.

For instance, when a salesperson asks a customer, “Who do you know that could benefit from the service I provide,” the customer could provide a name and contact information. Sometimes, however, the transaction ends with, “But don’t tell the person I told you to call.” They’ll “recommend” the sales person contact another, but they won’t “refer” them…that is, provide a reference from the customer to another prospective customer.

If a simple “recommendation” happens, the call will be akin to picking a name and phone number from a phone book. There’s a good chance that the contact will take the call, but may not have time to listen to a sales pitch. They may not even want to set up a meeting since they have no clue as to who the caller is.  Today, it’s pretty easy to look up information about a person on LinkedIn or on their company’s or ever their personal Web site or blog, but continual bugging could strain the relationship between the newly found prospect and the customer who supplied the name in the first place.

However, if the current customer is proactive and calls his friend to make a “referral” rather than just a “recommendation,” and then the salesperson takes them both to lunch, a relationship has been begun among the customer, the sales person, and the prospect.  The “referral” provides an “endorsement” of the product or service to the potential customer.  The dynamic then shifts from being a “back and forth” conversation to instead create a discussion.  This allows the dynamic of conversation to begin to change a mindset within the course of the meeting to grow the relationship. It allows the businesses (the customer and the prospect) to talk to each other, with the sales person as a facilitator rather than a “closer.” Remember, “A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

In terms of marketing your school, don’t just ask a parent if they know other parents who have children that would want to come to your school.  Have your parents of current students accompany parents of potential students to a meeting/conversation/sit-down with a cup of coffee with you. Don’t just ask a new business to sponsor an event.  Instead, find a current business that has a relationship with your school, ask them if they know of a business that would also be interested in supporting the great work your school does, and then invite both of them to a meeting to discuss your project and present your prospectus.

Remember, Jesus talked about two or three being gathered.  For your school, that could relate to two or three sets of parents, or two or three businesses.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2007-2022 (Original Publication Date: 20071112)