People who send a child to Christian schools want their children to receive a good education in an environment they trust. Your school could be exactly what they need, but you probably won’t be the only option they consider. You have competition, whether from public schools, secular private schools, or even other Christian schools. So it’s important to understand and articulate your school’s brand. You must tell your story.
Knowing who you are and what you offer—beyond mere facts like K–12 or location or size of campus— is where your brand begins. The more your brand— your story—connects with parents, the more likely they are to give your school serious consideration.
THE KEY TO GOOD STORYTELLING
Marketing is not merely one aspect of what you do. Everything you do is marketing. Everything tells your story—the appearance of your campus, the way your staff interacts with parents, your communication, the graphic treatment of your name and logo. So take the time to tell your story well.
Be consistent with your message. Develop brand guidelines for communication. Choose fonts that reflect your mission and complement one another. Create rules for how you’ll use the various versions of those fonts. Use quality photography. Decide on a specific palette of PMS colors (for printing) and their RGB and hex counterparts (for videos and the web), then use it consistently.
It’s crucial that prospective parents observe your attention to detail, as it will build their confidence in what your school offers.
FINDING YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you can articulate a compelling story, the next step is getting that story in front of people. There are two kinds of audiences your story will reach: Purposeful and Passive.
The Purposeful Audience
These people want to know about Christian schools, especially yours. Don’t disappoint them.
With the availability of the Internet, people now have at their fingertips a tool that can help them research anything they want. That’s why a modern website should be your first order of business. Make sure the words, the fonts, the color scheme, and the photography choices are consistent with your overall brand guidelines. Whether you design and implement it yourself or hire a professional, your website needs to answer the questions most parents will have: What can I expect from your school? How many grades do you offer? How is your school different from others? What are your beliefs? How will my child learn? What size are the classes? Be sure you make it easy for parents to contact you with more questions and begin the enrollment process.
Social media is another place to reach prospective families. Use Facebook and other platforms to communicate student achievements, your school’s culture, and upcoming events at your school. Please keep in mind that people will reach out to you through your social media channels so be prepared to respond to their questions in a timely manner.
You’ll also want to prepare brochures and flyers. These items can be extremely helpful, as long as you don’t ask them to do too much. You can’t say everything in a brochure, so say the most important things. As with the website, answer the questions that parents are most likely to have. Tell them enough to make them ask deeper questions when you meet them in person or they reach out to you over the phone or via email.
The Passive Audience
The tactics above are sound, but how will people be exposed to them if they don’t know you exist? Parents need to be aware that your school is out there. It may be just the thing they didn’t even know they were looking for. Fortunately, you have several options available to make that happen.
Traditional print advertising, television, and radio are all options. However, television is expensive and difficult to do well. (Regardless of offers you may receive from local stations willing to film and produce, your ad will be compared to television ads with million-dollar budgets.)
Radio offers promise. Ads or sponsorships on local Christian music stations can ensure that there’s a better chance of reaching potential customers. Radio stations frequently offer to produce your spot when you buy an advertising package with them.
Print advertising is also still viable, but the reach of local newspapers continues to wane. You may want to consider direct mail. As with a brochure or flyer, don’t ask your direct mail piece to do too much.
Make your audience aware of who you are and make it easy for them to learn more or contact you. By working with a local printer for your direct mail campaign, they should be able to help you acquire a mailing list to reach prospective parents.
Nowadays, digital advertising is a cost-efficient way to reach your audience. There are several tactics you need to consider.
SEM stands for search engine marketing. When people use a search engine to find what they’re looking for—a Christian school, for example—the results page typically yields sponsored results. These results are ads and your school’s ad can be among those that appear. Consult google.com/adwords for details on how this program works.
If you have a Facebook page, consider advertising on this social media platform. They offer tools to help you narrow down your audience so that you reach the people most likely to be your prospective customers without wasting coverage on those who wouldn’t. Your ads can lead users to your Facebook page or to your website.
THE ABEKA ADVANTAGE
Diligent application of these marketing principles and prayerful use of these tools can help your Christian school succeed. But you should also keep in mind that by choosing Abeka, you’re employing a proven approach to teaching. Children enjoy learning. Teachers enjoy pursuing their passion. Parents love the changes they see in their children. And that’s part of your story that ought to be told, too
NOTE: The above article is reprinted from our 2016 Christian School Shopping Guide & Toolkit. To find our most current catalog, visit our catalog download page.