In today’s social climate, people are all about sharing how they feel about companies, products, and services. In fact, folks are more inclined to trust another person’s opinion or experience over traditional advertising or marketing materials. That’s not to say traditional marketing doesn’t work; it simply means you also need to start gathering positive testimonials from parents and your community members.
Businesses do it all the time and usually dedicate a whole page to customer comments or make a place for them on every page. What better way to show other parents what a great school you have than to let them hear it from other parents? Hearing (or reading) a testimonial from someone who has nothing to gain other than from a school employee with a vested interest always adds more credibility.
Your school supporters want your school to succeed and will be happy to contribute to the school’s success by showing their support. So, don’t be afraid to ask for their testimonials!
Make it Easy to Submit Testimonials
- Encourage teachers to gather positive comments (they could make forms available during teacher conferences, send home an email questionnaire, etc.)
- Have forms available to the school office for parents to complete—with a checkbox where they can check and sign an agreement to let you use their comments on the website or in a brochure.
- Provide a feedback form right on the website to collect parent, community member, or alumni testimonials. Let them also upload a headshot to place next to their testimonial. This adds legitimacy and a personal touch.
- When you have an event or program, get a testimonial from parents whose children were involved, and include that with the article.
- Involve alumni. There is nothing more powerful than hearing from those who once attended your school and went on to accomplish their goals, crediting a teacher or school with their start on the right path.
- Get the PTA or PTO to collect testimonials—and use them on your website. You can turn these into graphic elements to use as part of the overall theme of the design. We do this for our clients, and it adds a professional touch to the school website.
Just a brief one or two lines is ideal if used graphically; longer testimonials should be placed on a page of their own.
Gather Testimonials With a Survey
With a simple survey or form on your school’s website, parents, teachers, and students can create a testimonial that you can use on your social media pages, website, school flyers, and even your marquee. Here are some sample questions to get you started:
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best), how would you rate our school?
- What are three things our school does exceptionally well? (Provide a list of programs you offer as well as space for respondents to write in their own ideas.)
- What is one area where you would like to see our school improve? (The point here is that your school isn’t perfect. And wouldn’t it be great to find out what is of value to your families so you can improve upon it?)
- How has your child benefited from attending our school? (Here is where you’ll get the meat for your testimonials!)
- May we use your responses on our website and social media pages? (You want to get permission to use someone’s words and name.)
- Be sure to ask for the respondent’s name and the grade level(s) of children at the school.
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That’s all there is to it! A form embedded into your website provides a vehicle to gather testimonials year-round. Or, hold a drive for responses and offer classes a reward for the most completed surveys. Even if not all the responses are positive, you’ve taken a huge step in making your families feel valued—just by asking their opinion! School Webmasters can help you create a form for your website, or search online for one of the many online survey applications.
Growing Your Enrollment with Testimonials
Whether yours is a public or private school, chances are you would like to grow your enrollment. After all, more students mean more opportunities to make a positive impact on our country’s future. And higher enrollment numbers give your school more funding, allowing you to provide more services and resources to all of your students.
But do you feel like you’ve done all you can do to try to market to new families? You’re using social media to build engagement, hosting events at your school to build community, networking in parenting groups and neighborhood events, and even advertising in the local news channels and on social media. While these are great ways to publicize and, as a result, grow your school enrollment, don’t underestimate the power of your current and former families to help. Studies show that there is far more influence from reviews and referrals than from any other form of marketing. Testimonials are a respected and valuable resource that schools don’t often incorporate into their marketing efforts—but they should.
Testimonials are a great way to prove that your school climate is nurturing and effective. They provide first-account endorsements for your teachers, your curriculum, and your leadership abilities. And even better—they’re free.
What better way to show other parents what a great school you have than to let them hear it from other parents? Your school supporters want your school to succeed and will be happy to contribute to your success by showing their support. Don’t be afraid to ask for their testimonials!
Get started using testimonials today. Oh, and encourage parents to also post their positive comments on parent evaluation sites like Great Schools. Invite those who provide positive testimonials to share their comments by giving them links directly to sites that review your area schools. New and prospective parents often use review sites to decide which school is best suited to their child’s needs. Make sure your school shows up and shines!
Interested in more school marketing ideas? Check out these blogs:
Inbound Marketing for Schools, Part 1 and Part 2
Storytelling: Your School’s Secret Weapon for Successful School Marketing
Looking for more school marketing ideas? Purchase our Marketing Your School toolkit for a full year’s worth of marketing strategies!
Posted by Bonnie Leedy, CEO, School Webmasters, LLC.