Benefits are a huge motivator. And whether we realize it or not, much of our day-to-day actions are motivated by benefits. If we weigh the benefits versus the activity and decide it’s not worth it, we won’t carry out the activity.
Take, for example, doing the dishes. It’s really something I ought to be doing every day to keep my kitchen clean and tidy. I truly enjoy a clean and tidy kitchen, but honestly, sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day. At the end of some days, the benefit is outweighed by more pressing chores or the need for sleep, and the dishes don’t get done. You really have to love that clean and tidy kitchen to do it every day, and, at the very least, you have to want a clean and tidy kitchen to do it several times a week.
Marketing your school may seem like a similar chore—you know you should market every day, but it gets outweighed by more pressing matters. It’s something you really ought to be doing at least three times week to start seeing results. But, let’s be honest, there are some houses where dishes pile up for weeks on end and never get done. That’s how school marketing ends up at many schools—a mountain of “to-dos” that never get done.
Maybe that’s because it’s harder to see some of the benefits of school marketing. This week, I hope that by illuminating some of the benefits of school marketing, you’ll find a motivating factor to help you continue your efforts.
Stakeholders Who Like You
One of the first benefits of good school marketing is that your stakeholders will like you.
Yes, you need your stakeholders to like you. In fact, you really want your stakeholders to love you, but we don’t mind settling for like right now. “Liking” constitutes a positive opinion and attitude towards your school. That positive attitude is fostered by the basics of school marketing: open, two-way communication, fostering relationships, and great school customer service.
When I was earning my master’s degree, one of my favorite courses was persuasion theory, in which we learned how people are influenced, convinced, or persuaded to act and think. One determination of influence is “liking.” People, or in our case organizations, are more likely to agree with people (organizations) they like. Some of the benefits of liking include a more stable environment for your school, more positive grassroots word of mouth, and more cooperation among stakeholders.
If your stakeholders don’t like you, consider the alternatives; they either dislike you or are apathetic towards you. Neither one of those attitudes fosters the kind of cooperative, engaged environment you wish for your school.
Stakeholders Who Trust You
My husband and I recently shopped for car insurance. He was really in favor of using one of the prominent companies that advertise a lot on television and radio, even though they were a more expensive option. He couldn’t quite put his finger on why he wanted to go with that company, but he finally said, “It has to be that guy in their ads. I like him; I trust him.”
When your stakeholders like you, trust generally follows.
When stakeholders trust your school, it eases relationships and fosters cooperation, and stakeholders will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt in crises situations.
Keep in mind, though, that trust is a delicate relationship. In addition to liking, trust relies on credibility and reliability. That means the quality of your school marketing efforts matter as do your ethics. You earn and keep trust when your school’s communications are transparent, consistent, and honest and your customer service is genuine and caring.
When we talk about invested stakeholders, we’re talking about the extent of their relationship with our school. Investment is a step beyond being liked and trusted and connects on a more visceral level; it’s an emotional connection to the point where your stakeholders care about your school.
Many parents are invested in their children’s education but not necessarily in the school their children attend. Marketing your school can help build loyalty, pride, and commitment in your stakeholders. Once their child is enrolled, parents may be more willing to invest their time and money in your school for the duration of their child’s education. Your marketing efforts can help stakeholders become invested in your school’s future even after their children have moved on.
When you care about your stakeholders, they will care about you.
More Stakeholder Support
When stakeholders like, trust, and are invested in your school, they are more likely to support your school and your school’s efforts. It’s no secret why schools should seek out the support of their key stakeholders. But just for argument’s sake, support is especially important in all of your school’s undertakings as you launch new programs and cut outdated ones, adapt education to the 21st century, develop teaching methods, pass budgets, petition for funding, etc.
Your school needs parents, community members, staff, and students on its side. Marketing your school will help you cultivate a supportive environment.
More Stakeholder Involvement
What happens when you care and support a cause or organization? You do everything you can to become involved, don’t you?
As your school marketing efforts yield results, you will find your stakeholders engaging with your school in positive ways. Not just better attendance at parent-teacher conferences and back to school nights. Your marketing efforts can create a culture of actively engaged stakeholders for your school.
Here are some ways your school marketing efforts can boost involvement:
- Increase student attendance and involvement
- Attract qualified and quality staff
- Increase parent volunteers and committee members
- Boost attendance at school events
- Increase fundraising
- Help pass bonds or levies
Like, trust, investment, support, involvement—marketing your school has incredible benefits—benefits that are worth your time at least a few hours every week. If you need some help getting started, download our free ebook How Effective Schools Market Themselves.
Happy School Marketing!
Katie Brooks, School Public Relations Manager