Your school is on full throttle toward Commencement and the end-of-year hustle and bustle. Now, though, is the time to think strategically about your summer to-do list of marketing and admissions tasks, especially your “low-hanging” marketing fruit.
Your school community just spent the year creating loads of content that will appeal to prospective students and their families. Now is the time to harvest it and use it to grow your field of prospects. Try a few of these ideas to bolster your marketing efforts.
Do an “Awards” Audit
While year-end school award assemblies and sports banquets are obvious school web news items, outside awards are great, too. Did a student, teacher or administrator get recognition for an outside award or honor? Get the details and share it. Ask teachers for photos and request nomination letters for copy and quotes. What about a short video of the recipient talking about the honor and why he or she loves attending or teaching at your school?
Gather Spring Content For Deeper Connections with Prospects
A lot happens on campuses during the spring, which can make great “touches” to reach out to students and families on your prospect list and appeal directly to their interests.
- Ask your athletics and arts faculty for any extra programs from spring concerts, plays, art shows and sports banquets. If your prospect is an artist, athlete or both, mail him/her a copy of the respective program with a handwritten note, stating “It would be great to see your name here next year.” Reading any bios of current students in a playbill or program also is a bonus!
- Reach out to faculty members to ask if they have video of student presentations or projects. This could be video taken while a student presents his/her project or a student-created video for an assignment. These are great to post on your website in a gallery. Asking faculty to share what they think are the top projects is more strategic than asking the fourth-grade parents, for example, to send video of their child’s “Animal Habitat” presentation. If you get a selection, consider a quick edit for a video roundup of a much-anticipated year-end project. Email the videos directly to prospects looking at that grade or division.
- If your school sends the senior class off to self-selected internships each May for a few weeks, share the list of where students are going with prospects and a little background on your school’s senior class program (history, why it matters to your mission, etc.). Consider an old-school letter and list, perhaps with the college list for the Class of 2018 as well. Having these documents printed for more than a fleeting glimpse in an email invites the student and his/her parents to spend a little time with your school’s impressive outcomes.
It’s Spring! Get Outdoors with Advertising
By spring and early summer, most schools have spent the bulk of their marketing budget. Outdoor advertising with billboards may be a key part of your year-round marketing plan, but don’t overlook the power of a well-designed, budget-friendly outdoor banner.
These can be highly effective at your school gates for both internal and external purposes. Did your school teams win championships this past academic year? Ask for the full year’s list from your athletic department and create a congratulations banner. Current families will love it, and it may pique the external community’s interest. Consider a banner about summer tours with your URL to let traffic passing by know that you are open for traffic this summer.
There are quick online options for you to design your own. Try Buildasign.com or contact your local sign company. Always include your school’s web address on any banner you create. It’s best to check with your local municipality before ordering and placing your banner, but most schools are fine if it’s on your property.
Ask Parents to Share Their Pride
Whether a parent has a graduating senior or a fifth-grader about to go to middle school, late spring is a great time to ask parents to share their memories and pride with you.
Ask your faculty colleagues to share any notes of thanks that they might receive. Of course, you will need permission of the family and faculty member to publish it, but these sentiments (with last names removed) serve as incredible testimonials.
Consider sending an electronic survey to current parents at transitional points (with students in their last year of preschool, lower school, middle school and 12th grade). Offer congratulations and ask for a few words on:
- What they feel your school has taught their child
- What (an accomplishment, experience, etc.) they are proudest of regarding their child
- How they are confident their child is prepared to move on to the next level because of their education at your school
Keep it short and explain that you are gathering comments for admissions and marketing purposes. You can follow up with parents for their permission to use any comments.
Don’t Forget Your School Magazine
Your office may be in the throes of producing your school’s magazine. If your budget allows, consider printing enough copies to mail (with a letter from your head of school) to your prospect list and to your consultant list and feeder schools. Many schools leave it to chance for the magazine to find its way into the hands of prospects. Deliberately put it there.
If you have an article on a marquee program at your school, ask your printer how much it would cost to run just that article. It may be easier for your admissions staff to travel with these reprints in the coming year than with copies of the entire magazine.
Need help thinking outside the box this spring and in any season? Give Kalix Marketing a shout!
Sarah Achenbach is Communications Lead for Kalix Marketing.
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