The Changing Role of Private School Viewbooks

Only 7% of respondents think their school’s viewbook is highly effective, yet 72% of them produce one.
— InspirED 2017 Private School MarCom Survey Report
Stephen wruck

Stephen wruck

I was delighted to open my email on Friday to find the following message from Stephen Wruck, Marketing and Community Relations Manager at King's Christian College, in Queensland, Australia.

He wrote in response to a Finalsite podcast where Rob and I were Tim McDonough's guests talking about private school marketing and communications, the InspirED 2017 Private School MarCom Report, and, specifically, data regarding viewbooks.

Stephen gave me permission to reprint his email which I think you'll enjoy for its insight and his car-buying analogy. (Side note: King's Christian College has a great blog that you might want to check out. It provides prospective and current parents with free content they can use.)

Thanks for being such a long-standing, engaged follower of InspirED, Stephen. And thanks for creating this spark.

The role of the viewbook is to reinforce all of those emotional reasons why parents think the school is right for them.
— Stephen Wruck, King's Christian College

Hi Liza,

I just listened to your discussion on the Finalsite podcast about the MarCom survey results. There was some discussion about school viewbooks, and I thought I would pass on my thoughts in case it is of interest.

I believe there is still a role for viewbooks — but it is a different role to how they were traditionally used.

If I can use an analogy...

A few months ago I bought a new car.

10 years ago, I would have collected car catalogues from various dealers and used these catalogues to research and inform my decision. I would have lined up the various brochures on my dining table and poured over the photos and specs etc. I probably would have visited various car dealerships and taken various cars for a test drive.

This time, I did all my research online (anonymously). By the time I visited a car dealership (the only one I visited), I was about 80% convinced of the car I wanted to buy. The car salesman's job was to reinforce my research findings, answer any concerns I might have and close the deal.

As I was leaving, the salesman gave me an expensive looking glossy brochure about the car I was about to buy. I took the brochure home and it sat in pride of place on my lounge table.

The role of this brochure was not to convince me to buy the car — I had already made that decision. The role was to confirm I had made the right decision and to make me feel good about it. So, this brochure was short on facts and specifications and long on emotion. It was full of incredible photography, and owners clearly having an amazing life because they owned this car.

Every time I looked at the brochure, I looked forward to the day I could collect my new car and I gladly showed the brochure to my friends so I could show off about it.

I believe that is the role of the school Viewbook. 

It is not to give the details of the school — prospective families have already researched this online. It is to reinforce all of those emotional reasons why parents think the school is right for them.

It is something they can proudly show to their friends and make them feel good about the decision they have made about their children's future education.


PS Thanks for the MarCom survey. Thanks for Thanks for the podcast. They are great resources, and I have enjoyed reading, listening and being inspired. 

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