Your school most likely has a set of Core Values that help to guide your sights and steps as you plan and grow. It's likely that your Board and leaders labored over just the right wording and mix to truly capture the essence of your school and what it stands for. And even if you haven't taken the same painstaking steps to outline them, you, too, espouse a similar set of values that shape who you are.
So it follows that parents who are considering their family's education options harbor a collection of principles - subconsciously and overtly - that guide their decisions, dialogues, and daily priorities.
If you want to reach the heart of your school's prospective parents, you'd better have their core values within clear sight, otherwise you will drastically miss your mark - and end up losing plenty of resources and relationships in the process.
Your incoming preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary students' parents are the crest of the Millennial generation wave that is saturating and defining our culture. How much do you know about the core values of this dynamic and often misunderstood group? And how can your school apply that knowledge to reach, engage, and ultimately enroll more Millennial-managed families?
Here are five defining values of Millennial parents, along with accompanying tips for school marketers to incorporate those values into your media and messages:
1. Perfection, Presence...and Panic
Millennial parents - moms especially - seem to have an overwhelming feeling that they must have it all and be it all. BabyCenter reported in 2016 that 80% of millennial moms claim it's important to be the "perfect mom," significantly more than the preceding two generations. This drive, coupled with the vast array of (often conflicting) parenting information available today, leads to a whole lot of stressed-out mamas. Are they doing right by their kids? Are they too soft...or too strict? Are they providing enough freedom or enough boundaries? Are they giving their kids enough opportunities, or overcrowding their schedules? Young parents will seek out many of these answers online.
These parents are also considered to be even more "present" and attentive with their kids than previous generations. While the traditional family dinner may be struggling to survive thanks to busy schedules, these parents value quality time with their families as a top priority, and so parents are intentional about using their weekends and other spare moments to invest in good memories. A driving force behind this seems to be FOMO - a Fear Of Missing Out on their children's fleeting young years. They are not lacking in a desire to pour out love and attention on their kids, perhaps because they, too, typically received plenty from their own folks.
Be there for them
Your school has an opportunity to put messages out to these parents that can affirm their desires and assuage their fears, along with hopefully showing how you can partner with them to help their kids grow into the well-rounded, mature young adults that they are dreaming of. Find millennial parents that are already in your midst to craft blog posts that speak to the pain points of their generation. Develop webinars that not only reflect your school's values, but that also show how your values translate into incredible value for their families by speaking on topics near to young parents' hearts and addressing how your dedicated team of faculty and staff can come alongside these striving parents to help carry their burden.
Additionally, show them how your school involves the whole family in its community, allowing parents to continue creating valuable memories with their kids even as they grow in their school years.
2. Tech Savvy
This generation is the first to grow up with the internet and with technology so integrated into daily life. With lives that are simultaneously physical and virtual, these parents want tasks and information to be readily available at the swipe of a finger. From their calendars, to their shopping lists, to their social interactions - it all lives in a mobile device that is becoming almost as indespensible as their own appendages. Parents are using apps to schedule their days, manage their budgets, entertain their kids, and so much more. As an extension, they expect that their children will learn to adeptly wield the power of technology.
First off, you must ensure that your school is easily accessible online. Don't make parents work for the vital information they're looking for in a school. This generation wants to do their research incognito - they prefer to gather plenty of information about your school first before they ever have to speak with someone. As such, be certain that you answer all of their top questions front and center on your website.
Additionally, take a look at how your school uses technology both in the classroom and in administrative functions. Show parents the ways that you incorporate the latest technologies in your students' educations. Give them a taste of the platforms that help make their families' lives easier, such as messaging and communication tools where they can keep in touch with teachers and school leadership, online enrollment and tuition payment, text reminders, family accounts, and more.
3. Social Butterflies
Social media. You know it already, right? Millennials are there, and so you must be, too. Indeed, a Crowdtap survey reveals that a whopping 90% of young parents find social media to be somewhat to extremely helpful in their parenting. They often turn to their virtual networks to seek out solutions, poll their friends on questions, and so much more. Social media is not only an outlet for personal connections and entertainment - it has become a veritable parenting resource. And often, the main message carriers are not necessarily companies and organizations, but the user's own friends and acquaintances. In fact, studies have shown that millennials value word-of-mouth referrals even more than previous generations.
Harness The Power of Your Biggest Fans
You're already posting your own relevant content on social media regularly (aren't you?). Now it's time to empower more people - young parents just like the ones you're trying to reach - to do the same. Give your current families reason to share your message with their friends. Equip a select team of your most committed families to know your school's brand well and to be ready to share their experience with their friends. Craft a solid Word of Mouth school marketing strategy.
This generation of families seems to be the busiest one yet...and while there are still complaints about too much chauffering around and not enough time, they seem to be just fine with that. Millennial parents value a well-rounded experience for their children, and are less likely than previous generations to think that kids are involved in too many activities, according to a Time Magazine survey. Music, sports, art, volunteering, church - they're all vying for and earning spots in these families' schedules. As such, millennial parents tend to schedule out their days more precisely. Many parents report that even their free time is scheduled each day, in order to maximize the minutes.
Take a Holistic Approach
Show parents how your school addresses multiple facets of their child's development. From arts to athletics to academics - this generation of parents wants to do it all, and they'll value a school that can do it all as well. While your resources may be limited, look at ways you can partner with surrounding schools and organizations to address the full spectrum of education.
5. Authenticity Rules
Millennials don't beat around the bush, and they don't want to be part of an organization that does, either. This generation can smell a scam or a patronizing message a mile away. They gravitate toward brands and messages that are relatable, that speak their language, that resonate with them. Along with authenticity, millennials are moved by people and organizations that exhibit true passion. If the proliferation of unique names parading through the classrooms hasn't already clued you in, Millennials value individualism (for themselves and for their children). A big mantra many live by is "you do you," While "be yourself" may be cliche, it holds true here.
Show Your True Colors
Be real and relatable. This isn't the group that will be won over with cutesy fluff or high-tower pontifications. Meet these young parents in the trenches, where they are, and offer your hand to journey with them in raising up the next generation. Show them your incredible faculty who teach not for the tenure or pension or job security, but for the sheer love of the students and the subjects. Discuss with parents your desire to ensure that your school and their unique child will be a good fit for one another. Find ways to reignite your own passion for your school's mission, and that excitement will spark in the hearts of parents who are seeking out a place for their families to flourish.