Mom Knows Best: Sage Marketing Advice from Mothers

Marketing Mother's Advice for your School

by Sarah Achenbach – Image: Mikey G Ottawa/Flickr

Your mom probably doled out a lot of advice. If she’s anything like my mom, she still does. But did you know that her sage wisdom can apply to marketing your school or college? Here’s how you can channel all those nuggets your mother (or grandmother) told you and apply them to sharing your organization’s story. You might be surprised by the outcome.

“Ears first.”

This was a tough one in my house of talkers, but my mom worked hard to make sure that we understood that listening was the most important part of a conversation. How are you listening to what your students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff are saying about your institution? How often do you survey them? Setting up a yearly survey cycle can yield some great information about curricula, communications, admission and more. (The National Association for Independent Schools has good surveys with options to add custom questions.) For those families who were accepted but chose to enroll elsewhere, are you asking them why? If you ask, most people will be willing to tell you. Survey your new parents at the end of their first year with you and ask (among other things) if their experience was what was described when they were applying. If you roll out a new school app, website or Instagram feed, some of the best people to ask what they think are students. They will give you honest feedback (especially if you serve pizza.)

“Say it loud. Say it proud.”

Maybe this was just a saying in my house, but pretty much anything made it to the refrigerator door. My mom didn’t wait to tout the big moments—a hockey championship, a lead in a play—but celebrated the small moments, too. With your news feed, you obviously share the awards and impressive accomplishments, but posts about an interesting lesson, “day in the life” or a seemingly small student achievement can have a big impact. What about an Instagram photo of a few freshman walking out of their first-ever college final exam? Or a short video of proud Kindergarteners holding up their very first paragraphs? There is inspiration for meaningful, mission-driven news all around you that will resonate with your students and their parents. And, as mom always says, success breeds success. The more your faculty see you sharing the everyday wonders of their classroom, the more they will share with you.

“It’s not the failure that matters, it’s how you pick yourself up.”

Think about the many times your mom picked you up, washed skinned knees, soothed bruised egos? She let you wallow for a little but then made sure you got right back on the bike (literal or metaphorical). Moms know that failure is a given. In today’s constant rush of ever-changing social media, challenging markets and marketing challenges, you are going to try things that won’t work. Fail fast and move on. Marketing will always be part art, part science. If Pinterest didn’t quite work for your school, move on. Not every platform works for every institution. Concentrate on doing what you do well. If you want to try something new, such as mobile marketing, consider starting small then adding more budget and focus after you see success.

“Always wear clean underwear.”

Okay, so this one is obvious in real life, but how does it apply to your professional responsibilities? All moms know how important the details are. No one may look to see that your style guide or brand standards are consistently used across your website, emails, snail mails, prom t-shirts, etc., but it matters. Make sure anyone sending communications for your school or using your colors, branding, logos, and seal for anything knows where to find them and how to use them correctly. When your mother was clear about her expectations, everything ran more smoothly, right?

Check out these great branding guides—they’re easy to use, understand and download.

Let us know how you could turn some motherly advice that you’ve received into a marketing gem.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sarah Achenbach is the Director of Communications for Kalix Marketing.

President’s Notes
Jonathan Oleisky

Jonathan Oleisky

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