Getting Your School's Message Heard

Vol. 12 No. 2

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Marketing experts like to say that all good ideas have already been done—being creative is knowing how to add a fresh spin on an old idea. Charles Mingus says, “Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”

Keeping your marketing creative, awesomely simple, yet engaging so parents participate in your events and messages is one of the trickiest parts of your role as Admission Officer. Technology has added new platforms and techniques for sharing your ideas and conversing with families. But, traditional methods still seem to generate the most interest. It’s a balancing act.

Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

Connecting, or combining if you will, traditional ideas with new technology might seem uncreative or not engaging because of its obviousness and simple nature. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Usually, at the beginning of the school year (as well as toward the end of it), the ISM Admission Officer e-List explodes with ideas on how to coordinate and orchestrate a successful open house. This year is no different. People are already sharing ideas about when, how, and what to do to host an amazing, informational, parent-engaged event.

So far, we’ve listened in as members have discussed hosting morning parent coffee events where current families take the lead and share their experiences with the school to interested families over a cup of joe; the best time to send out event notifications; and how to go about gathering feedback. We’ve loved everything we’ve read so far! But, since we’re not allowed to engage in the e-List conversations, let us take this opportunity to comment on a few ideas we’ve come across—creating successful events is about taking what is proven to work and combining it with new technology.

Hosting morning coffees is a great idea. But, how do you get the word out about them? Do you rely on the parents hosting these events to spread the word? You can. Traditional viral marketing is one of your most powerful outlets. But, don’t let your communications stop there. Share it on your social media platforms, send it out in your newsletters along with updates about how the individual events went, and post signs on your school’s front lawn. Use what you know and expand.

Knowing when to send out communications is another creative tactic that needs to be blended and tested. Sure, the marketing world can provide statistics, but those may or may not apply to your school’s audience. Send out your electronic messages at different times and see for yourself when you get the most opens and the most click-thrus.

Getting feedback is another tricky creative problem. You can directly ask attendees and hosts for their opinions; you can send anonymous surveys; you can run online polls; or some other technique that you’ve used in the past that has worked—and you can combine all of these efforts. The important thing about feedback is that you first obtain some of it, and then record it so you can reflect and reevaluate later. Keep in mind the first step in being creative is knowing what wheel you need to recreate.

Additional ISM articles of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 3 Tis The Season for Service … and Open Houses
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 11 No. 1 Make Your Next Open House Exciting and Effective

Additional ISM articles of interest for Gold Consortium members
To the Point Vol. 10 The Admission Funnel: Turn Inquiries Into Visits
I&P Vol. 30 No. 3 The Comprehensive Admission Model

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