As schools across the U.S. – ranging from public elementary schools to ivy league colleges – wrap up a season of distance learning, communicating the value and feeling of the in-person learning experience has become increasingly difficult. Prospective families lost opportunities to tour and observe life on campus, while students may be enrolling at a school they’ve never visited this fall. With the in-person experience off the table, how can colleges and universities, as well as private and charter schools, sell life on campus from afar?
Embrace brand ambassadors
Who better to tell the story of life at ABC college than the student who experienced it firsthand? These students are well-equipped to discuss academics, extracurriculars, dorm life and what it feels like to be a part of your community. They bring an authentic voice to the story and can answer many of the questions a prospective student may have.
Establish a mentoring program or buddy system
Happy customers rank among a brand’s greatest assets. And, in this instance, happy families can play an integral role in your private school marketing. The same goes for happy college students and your higher ed marketing.
Consider pairing up existing and prospective families for some virtual relationship-building. This can serve as a resource for helping to answer common questions and to learn more about the school community. For higher ed marketing, think of your current students as recruitment ambassadors. As former high school students themselves, they know what it’s like to be new to campus and can help prospective students learn more about the college or university.
Harness the power of video
There is a feeling people get when they visit a particular school and its often challenging to convey that feeling to someone who has never been in the building. Video can help to shore up that gap, giving viewers a glimpse into what campus looked like before the transition to distance learning. When pulling together a video be mindful of maintaining a consistent brand voice and image. The video assets you have accumulated over time can vary in look, feel and tone, and it’s critical to make sure that weaving them together doesn’t lead to a disjointed message or brand confusion.
A more casual, but equally valuable, way to embrace video for marketing your school is to have staff and students film themselves answering a common question or two. These short videos can be shared on social media and embedded in your email marketing.
Think about a virtual town hall
In lieu of open houses and info sessions consider hosting a virtual town hall meeting. This format gives the dean or principal an opportunity to speak and affords participants the opportunity to ask questions and engage in real time. Use this as an opportunity to start building a rapport with prospective families and to learn what information your audiences are looking for. These insights can help to inform future marketing campaigns.
While higher ed marketing and private school marketing may look different these days, giving families a glimpse into what it is like to be a part of your community is key. Whether you are showcasing student projects on social media or sharing videos of virtual graduations, getting an insider’s look at the values of your school and fabric of your community plays a vital role in student recruitment and retention.