Every School Website Must Have this Key Ingredient


Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the opening session of the AISAP Leadership Summit. Janice Crampton, Executive Director of AISAP, (pictured with me) asked me to speak on brand and how school’s can differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.

As I prepared for my presentation, I decided to take a very unique approach. Before the conference, I reviewed the websites of each of the schools registered. I wanted to see how each school was communicating their brand. I also wanted to be aware of my audience so that I could discuss their website and messaging in context.

In most of these examples, I found websites that failed to communicate their brand in a compelling way. These websites did not pull parents in to discover more about their school and to motivate them to take the next step.

These websites were missing a key ingredient—an engaging story of their school that provides an emotional connection to prospective parents.

In fact, I found websites that lacked any storytelling focus or key messaging at all.

During my presentation, I asked the school leaders to write down an answer to this question:

What are three key messages that you want every prospective parent to know about your school that will motivate them to take the next step?

These are the messages that an admissions or marketing director communicates every day.

Then, I showed screenshots of their website and asked them if they could find the three messages that they just wrote down.

Guess what they discovered?

The result and the “ah-ha” moment in the room was the complete disconnect between what they wrote down and what they saw in their school’s website.

Let me say this again—a complete disconnect. I often find this disconnect in school websites.

Go ahead and take the same test.

Write down three messages about your school. These are messages that you share all the time in your conversations to connect with prospective parents. These messages often address specific pain points or needs in the parent’s life and how your school can meet this need.

Next, take a fresh look at your school’s website. What do you see? Can you find these same messages on your homepage that you just wrote down? Does your website tell a compelling story of your school? Are you clearly communicating how your school can meet the needs of prospective parents?

I am not suggesting that the magic message formula are three key messages on your website. Rather, it is critical that your website communicates and connects messages about your school to reach prospective parents. Otherwise, you will fail to use this most important marketing tool effectively.

The connection of your school’s story to your potential audience is the key ingredient that you must communicate on your website.

Did you pass the test?

Or, do you need to make some changes and improvements so that you can retake the test?

It’s critical that you pass this test at your school.