Word-of-mouth marketing is the indisputable champ. There are even consultants and advisors who specialize in helping organizations manage it. But if there is little congruence among your consituents about what words should be in those mouths, an exercise with your faculty might point out the inconsistencies and help you build stronger, more compelling content AND a highly differentiated brand.
When I first start working with a school, I want to know if everyone's on the same page. When you ask different constituent groups, "What does your school do really well?" or "What should you be paying attention to?" it's fairly common to get differing and even opposing perspectives.
The most important groups are the teachers and parents, because they hold the credibility cards. And if they don't agree on core messaging, then word-of-mouth marketing can be troublesome. When I was an admission director, one of my biggest concerns was whether what I was saying to prospective families about the school would hold true once they attended and began to experience it!
One tool that I find useful to get everyone on the same page is to ask teachers to state the 6Ws. Those 6Ws are "who we are, who we are NOT, what we stand for, what we WILL NOT stand for, why what we stand for matters, and where we're headed."
Note that it's just as important to agree on who we are not and what we will not tolerate as it is to know who you are and what you stand for.
Opposites throw beliefs into high contrast and high relief and make your identity (brand) easier to see.
The answers to these statements make it much easier for prospective parents to self-select you. If they like what they hear, they'll go, "Hey, that's me! I want that!" It helps you, too. The answers to these statements will create a strong success / risk profile that will help you judge whether a student and his or her family will be "mission-appropriate" and enjoy a long-term relationship with your school -- or not.
This Thursday, August 28 at noon EDT, I'll be conducting a webinar on this topic for AISAP, the Association of Independent School Admission Directors. If you want to get traction on this "essential" for outstanding enrollment management, invite a group of influential teachers and parents to listen in with you.
This session will be the first of five I'll be conducting for AISAP this fall, and prior to each one I'll post a blog about the content we're going to cover--all five designed to help you build your admission chops and do your best for your school.
With all good wishes as you open the doors to your best year yet!