Imagine this… every private school in your area offering the exact same education at the exact same price. How is a prospective parent to choose?
Imagine again a level-playing field except that downtown, Metropolis Elementary has a tuition that is 25% lower than everyone else’s. Across town, Gotham Prep has a proven track record of academic success. But just down the street in the Central City Academy, students are also getting a quality music education. These unique differences are these school’s superpowers.
Do you know what your superpower is?
Without clearly defining your superpowers (and your competitions), your prospective parents will choose a school based simply on proximity or price. For some, proximity and/or price might be your superpower, but for the rest of us, we have to bring something to the table that is different — something that distinguishes us from every other school in the area. This is commonly called a unique selling proposition or a USP.
Make a list of everything you know about your prospective parents and students — your target audience.
Make a list of all the benefits that your school provides: campus security, art education, technology, global education, character education, etc. Of course it is important that you are teaching English, mathematics, and science - but so are your competition. Does everyone in your market teach a second language though? Do they have an exceptional music program?
Compare this to your competitors and remove the ones that your competitors also serve.
For every item you have left, create a list of ideas (words and images) that bring this feature to life.
You might need to combine a couple lesser strengths together, especially if that help you compete against a number of other schools with overlapping benefits e.g. a secure, technology-driven, athletic powerhouse
If necessary, conduct some small focus groups to narrow your thoughts even more
Now that you know what your superpower is, it is time to use it.
Find a way to talk about it in every conversation, tout it daily or at least weekly on social media, and make sure that it is front and center in your viewbook and admission materials. It may feel like you are bragging (and you are) but there is nothing wrong with that says Peggy Klaus, author of Brag: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It. "Talk about yourself and your accomplishments in a conversational, story-like manner. The more you do it, the less forced it will feel.”
Wait… my marketing-sense is tingling. I have to go now. Good luck.
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Mike Bullard, Graphic Designer and Admission Marketing Manager, Presbyterian Day School
Mike Bullard is a Graphic Designer at Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, TN. He also works double-duty as the Admission Marketing Manager. After spending 10 years singing in a band, Sammy’s Good Eye, I switched gears and started a new career in Graphic Design. I started a magazine, MemphiSport Magazine, and published it for 6 years before switching gears again, lending my skills to PDS. In addition to marketing and design, I enjoy facilitating our makers and gaming after-school classes.