Real Stats, Real Stories

This summer I had the opportunity to conduct several parent focus groups at an independent school. During my focus groups, I typically ask parents the following questions:

  • What words or phrases best come to mind to describe the school?
  • What are the strengths of the school?
  • What are the weaknesses of the school?
  • What are the top three or four messages that you would communicate to a prospective parent to encourage them to consider this school?
  • What changes should be made to make this a better school?

In addition, I also like to ask the question, “What should the leadership do to better market the school in the community?”

While all of the responses to these questions are very important in this marketing research process, the response to this last question jumped out to me.

Can you take a guess at how the parents answered this question?

Their response had nothing to do with the placement of ads, the school’s website or specific marketing strategies.

Their response focused on the need to communicate real statistics and real stories about the school.

Let me elaborate.

These parents suggested that the best approach to marketing the school is to communicate real statistics about the success of the school’s graduates wrapped around stories of real alumni going to the next level and beyond.

Think about this for a moment.

What these parents really think prospective parents want to hear are specific statistics and stories on the product—the result of the educational experience at that school.

I believe these parents are correct.

Prospective parent need to hear real stories of your graduates and how your school prepared them for success at the next level and in life. They need to hear the real statistics of your academic success and entrance rates into the next educational level.

I also believe that your current parents need to hear the same stories. This should be part of your internal marketing effort.

Parents are looking for the return on their tuition investment at your school. What better way to communicate this potential return than through the real-life stories of your graduates! As these parents hear stories of your graduates, they will be able to better see the future impact that the school can have on their son or daughter.

Real stats and real stories need to be the focus of your school’s marketing effort.