Part 4: Directing Your School Marketing Chorus, Spec Sheets

As we gear up for a capital campaign at Proctor Academy, a recent conversation with a colleague sparked this post. We were discussing how to best market this campaign and what language we wanted to use (of course taking lessons from this post) in order to insure our messaging was consistent across the Admissions, Academic, and Development departments of our school. In my previous posts, I emphasized the need for effective internal communications as the basis for consistent language in communicating a school’s brand. This post looks at HOW you actually do that.

During my conversation with a colleague, the light bulb went off: why don’t we create spec sheets for each part of the campaign just like a car dealership has in window of each new car. Initially my colleague looked at me like I was crazy (perhaps the way you are right now), but as I explained the idea, it began to make sense to her. A spec sheet at a car dealership provides essential information for the buyer: horsepower, average fuel economy, interior dimensions, external measurements, etc. A buyer can very quickly look at the spec sheet and know the basics of what the car has to offer, and he or she will be able to compare it to other cars. It is a rough outline; the core knowledge needed to understand the car.

We have a number of potential projects toward which our development office is beginning to gain momentum. Each has unique information/data associated with it. At the time of the conversation with my colleague, we had no way of efficiently and effectively sharing this information internally and it was impacting our ability to communicate using consistent language.  So we decided to develop a spec sheet for each campaign project.

The Verdict? 

It has solved our internal communication challenges for our capital campaign…and then some! We have been able to develop a spec sheet for each major project that outlines the what, where, when, and why of the project. We have the estimated square footage, architectural information, timeline of the project, funding progress, and most importantly the impact buckets that align with the project. We have been able to take what was a real frustration for our team and turn it into a strength by slowing down and identifying a solution that helps reinforce our ongoing effort to use consistent language, content themes and articulation of impacts to message our school’s brand.

Next Step?

This process has worked well so far, so our next step is to create spec sheets for other programs on campus. While we have yet to do this, each spec sheet will be a one page guide to marketing the program: contact information for director, main objectives of the program, offerings within the program, and, again, discussion of the key impact buckets addressed by the program. We believe improved structure our how we communicate internally will directly impact how we communicate externally, and in turn, how effectively we market our school.