With the school year ended and most buildings empty of students, as principals we finally get a chance to take a breath. Once we do that a few times we know we gotta get back to work. When we reflect on our student count and think of ways to increase it marketing is the name of the game. In an era of increasing competition we know we have to stand out to capture the attention of families who have greater choice. How can we market our schools so that the values we stand for are represented? These three strategies can help support your enrollment goals.
This isn’t easy for a public school because we have to be everything for everybody. This makes it hard to stand out and be distinctive. One of the advantages that private and charter schools have is their ability todefine their own niche. A private school can be religion based and focused solely on a particular faith or bring in a specific kind of athlete. Charter schools can have a specific theme or cater to specific ethnicities. As a public school finding your focus is essential to increasing school enrollment. This has traditionally been done through an emphasis on things like athletics or band. In today’s technological age, what are ways you can stand out from the crowd? Answering this question will help you be unique.
Remember, regardless of whether you’re a newly established principal or a veteran you are an expert at what you do. Your own particular values as the building leader can also help guide this search for uniqueness. You know exactly what the students need to do to be successful and you’re able to deliver it. The families in your community need you and your school’s particular expertise. Once you identify your one of a kind culture the next step is spreading the word.
So how do you deliver this information? The easiest way to do so is to use social media. Presumably your school already has a Facebook account. If it doesn’t, start one. According to Facebook stats,Facebook has the largest number of users between 25 and 35. That is a prime age for beginning families. Leverage your demographic data and use a social media platform to meet your families where they are.
While, as public schools we have to accommodate everyone, we can still specialize in certain areas. Using social media will help spread your unique characteristics and your school values. Even though school may be out for you reposting older content and reminding your families of your school’s unique qualities is a great strategy
Another way to stand out is to be dependable. With every change in leadership schools lurch from one new directive to the next. This fosters uncertainty and parents aren’t sure from year to year what their child is going to get. Being uniform in what you offer to families and the community helps parents know what they’re going to see when they come in for their second and third child. With that consistent way of doing things the parents and the staff can confidently state what is happening year to year and promote your school. No one likes instability. Being unstable causes anxiety among your stakeholders and make choosing another option more likely. Be dependable and not only will families stand by you they’ll sell your school for you.
The most dependable assets at a school are also the greatest asset. The staff. Often we forget that they can do more than just teach. They have hundreds of contacts in their own email and social media accounts. Use them to help spread the word of how dependable and stable your school is. Once a month pass something onto them that they can share with those with whom they have influence. It could be as simple as a picture of them working with their students. Add a brief caption about how great the students are and send it to their friends and families asking them to share it with their friends. As the end of the year approaches have the teachers spread the word that they’ll be back and and are excited to see the new crop of kids. If this becomes a consistent practice you'll be surprised how far the word spreads. As the summer weeks role by remind your families of your dependability and how well you’ve cared for their child.
Being a fanatic about your passion is the secret ingredient to success and leads to sustained excellence. If you think of great Principals they demonstrate enthusiasm on a daily basis. This excitement helps principals promote their school because they're the first ones at the door in the morning greeting families, students, and staff as they come in.
A fanatical focus for the work can also lend itself to the creation of content. (this doesn’t mean overwork yourself :-) ) If you’re excited about the things you do particularly well, spread the word. Your school might have small learning communities or have a great curriculum. Write a blog post or an article highlighting the researched based reasons these unique qualities positively impact your students’ growth.
These families that you greet every day, you have them on an email list. In marketing this is one of the most valuable commodities because it give you direct access to those families. Use that list to share your content. Ask them to forward the email to families who might be interested in seeing the good things your school is doing. During the summer parents may be more likely to open these emails as they don’t want to miss any upcoming school events. Share your passion for your school and their children.
Successful Principals and by extension schools promote themselves with their “one of a kind” offering, dependability and fanatic focus on their passion for education. Using social media, leveraging your staff, and sharing your enthusiasm for education through content creation are easy ways to spread the positive word. These simple strategies can help you maintain and increase your student enrollment over the summer.
What are other strategies you use to stand out and what are ways that you connect and spread the word to your families? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
If you’re a principal make sure you check out the new grant/scholarship available that honors the hard work you put in on a daily basis. K12 principals clickhere to learn more
For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the /www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com and/or pre order a free copy of my newest bookHow To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcastThe Principal Entrepreneur, new episodes weekly. To join the podcast as a guest email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our privateFB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......