Have you ever found yourself imitating the sayings or mannerisms of people with whom you spend a lot of time? I lived with my grandma for a year while working on my master’s degree, and one of her favorite expressions is “oofta!” That interjection of dismay, concern, or surprise comes from a combination of Grandma’s Swedish ancestry and youth in Minnesota. For better or worse, “oofta” has crept it’s way into my vocabulary.
Whether or not it’s a conscious effort, we seek to imitate people we admire or view as successful. This carries over into the business world as well. While careful not to infringe on anyone’s copyrights, we look to others for inspiration. When you undertake a website design, do you look at other school websites to see what they are doing? So how about seeking inspiration for your school marketing approach too?
As I look for inspiration, researching successful school marketing campaigns, I come across many Australian private and boarding schools who do an impressive job with marketing videos. Videos are an underused, but poignant, medium for school communications. Marketing videos allow you to tell school stories in unique and memorable ways. I want to share some of these examples in hopes they will inspire your school marketing efforts.
Example About Us Video: Knox Grammar School is a boarding school for boys years seven to 12. Instead of creating a video about their campus and services, their “about us” video follows one of their boarding students, Jack. Instead of talking about students in general, they make it personal—Jack could be your son. The video aims at putting rural parents to ease about sending their kids to a boarding school by showing the teachers, other students, educational situations, and activities. This video is the epitome of telling about your school through story. Watch the video on Knox Grammar School’s Vimeo channel.
Inspiration: Let your “about us” video or website page tell a story. “Stories” sometimes get confused with “branding.” A story is not the history of your school, your mission, or the services you offer—that’s branding. A story grabs your attention and evokes emotion. You don’t need a huge marketing budget to pull something like this off. Tell your school’s story through the eyes of your students, the eyes of your parents, or the eyes of your teachers. Write about it on your blog, create a website page, or make your own video.
Example Programs Video: Donvale Christian College is a primary and secondary faith-based private school. They produced a series of videos titled, “The Donvale Difference” to explain how their school is different from other schools. Their “Guitar” video is one of my favorites. It features a group of musically-inclined students who take a young, shy guitar player under their wing. The video promotes the school’s Creative Arts Week, a program where regular classes are postponed and replaced with opportunities to participate in drama, dance, music, etc. It tells a great story by demonstrating how this program is geared to help students work together, regardless of age or ability. Watch the video on Donvale’s Vimeo channel.
Inspiration: Forty percent of students in Australia attend a private or independent school, so these schools are on the top of their game to stand out and make an impression. With school choice and open enrollment becoming an ever more prominent topic in the states, school marketing will continue to be essential to public schools as well as private and charter schools. Set your school apart from the competition. What does your school do better than any other? What are your premier programs or services? Tell your story. Your website and social media should be filled with the great things going on within your classroom walls.
Example Event Video: Pymble Ladies’ College serves students from kindergarten to year 12. In 2016, the school opened a new sports complex. As part of their promotional campaign, they shot a marketing video to tell a story, not only about the new complex but about the history and culture of the school. I love this video because they don’t just talk about the facility; they interview alumni, parents, and students. The video includes some footage of the opening ceremonies, but the best part is at the end where the students talk about the things they love about the new facility. Watch the video on Pymble’s Vimeo channel.
Inspiration: If you have an event, designate a videographer or, at least, a photographer. Get some quotes from the attendees, show off your event, and put something together to share through your communication channels. Often a lot of our marketing efforts go into promoting events and encouraging people to attend. It’s a mistake not to continue your school marketing after the event is over. A video, feature story or slide show on your website and social media can engage your community members who were unable to attend your event.
As you seek your own inspiration, remember, there’s a fine line between imitation and inspiration. I came across the following quote when thinking about this topic: “Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but clones kind of get it wrong because we are promoting individuality and being proud of being [ourselves]” (Brian Molko, musician). Don’t hesitate to seek inspiration in what other schools are doing to market themselves, but make sure inspiration doesn’t become imitation. Don’t be a clone; show off your school’s individuality and pride!