According to the latest ICS Research Report (February 2018), there are 9,318 international schools in the world. How can you set yours apart? A difficult task but not impossible – the key is the storytelling. All schools say that they offer an excellent education, great results, fantastic university placements, and so on. While parents obviously consider all of these aspects, they fall within their expectations and so are sometimes not enough to differentiate one school from another. When you talk about schools, you talk about precious human beings, and one of the wonderful attributes of the human being is the capacity to be creative. When you have human beings, you have stories. When you have stories, you have the number one element of a successful marketing strategy: Marketing Content.
It is up to you to discover that content and determine how to ensure your potential audience sees it. The first task is relatively easy. As you leave your office and walk around the school, observe what the students are doing and talk to the teachers. They are the source of any story. The faculty know the students; they organize field trips, experiments, plays, games, and outdoor lessons. They will provide the stories you need and enable you to show what happens inside and outside of the classrooms. Encourage the faculty to become part of the marketing process by letting you know what is taking place or which student has a great story to tell. Explain that these stories also promote what the teachers are doing at the same time, in front of the parents and the school community. Once the teachers understand what you want, you will not miss a good story.
For example, a science teacher emailed to let me know that her tenth-grade students were doing an interesting experiment in the lab relating to the role of DNA and genes in inheritance. We took some photos as they worked, asked the teacher to send us a couple of paragraphs detailing the experiment, and published the students’ story. In another instance, a teacher mentioned to me that one of our Grade 11 students, a goalkeeper, was involved during the preseason with Chelsea, the Premier League football team. With permission from his parents, I interviewed the student and wrote a brief article about him for the local media. They loved the story which was published along with the name of our school.
As you talk to the teachers, stories like these will come to your attention. Publish them on your website and social media channels. Technology brings great advantages in our digital era. As well as looking at the school website to find out about the curriculum, mission, and history of the schools they are considering, prospective parents often look at the social media channels. Social media is very important because it shows the “life of the school”. It is there, in the “life of the school,” where they will discover if the students of your school are happy, engaged, and enjoying their learning journey. It is all about the storytelling.
By: Angel Lozano