I want to talk about a successful marketing tactic that predates the written word. One that can engage an audience, trigger emotion, and inspire that audience to action. An influential tactic that can be very effective in school marketing. The tactic? Storytelling. Those who have had the most success with storytelling as a school marketing tactic are those who understand that storytelling is not just an art, but a process as well.
Mastering the art of school marketing begins with an understanding of the process and framework of a story. And then being able to effectively engage your audience throughout that process.
The Storytelling Process
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at this process.
Think of the books you have read and the movies or plays you have seen. They generally follow a hero through a journey that is broken into three acts:
- Act I: The Story Unfolds
The stage is set and the journey begins. In this act, the hero’s desires and challenges begin to reveal themselves.
- Act II: The Struggle
The journey continues as the hero attempts to satisfy a desire or overcome a challenge. In this act, the hero realizes he needs help in order to do so.
- Act III: The Challenge is Overcome
The journey comes to an end when the hero’s desires have been satisfied and the challenge has been overcome.
Storytelling in School Marketing
Let’s see how to apply these concepts to school marketing.
A school marketing story begins with a hero. To ensure your hero is one your audience can relate to and connect with, you want to consult your buyer personas to understand your audience’s wants, challenges, and pain points. You also want to take into consideration the journey your audience and prospective enrollment prospects are facing.
Next, determine your marketing goal. What is it you hope to accomplish through the telling of a story?
Example: You’re a K-12 school and you’ve been experiencing a consistent and unhealthy loss of students at the end of their 8th grade year which is having an adverse impact on enrollment in grades 9-12. You’ve decided to build a marketing campaign with the goal to retain more existing students beyond 8th grade as well as attract more families to the school with a long-term enrollment perspective in mind.
Armed with this information, as it relates to your marketing goals, think about real-life events and experiences that have taken place at your school. Or stories that capture the heart of your school’s mission. Stories that would resonate with and engage your target audience. Stories that would relate to them where they are.
Now it’s time to tell the story.
Act I: The Story Unfolds
Think about the specific need or challenge you’d like the story to address. What aspects of the real-life anecdote can you include to make it engaging and relatable?
Example: Through your buyer persona research, you’ve determined the biggest challenges facing parents with children transitioning from middle school to high school include their concerns that this transition can be intimidating and overwhelming for students. In addition, realizing high school graduation is on the horizon they want to ensure their children are as prepared as possible to move onto the next stage of their lives. In this scenario, consider including thoughts and insights from parents of alumni who have experienced these similar challenges.
Act II: The Struggle
Think about ways the identified challenge can be addressed.
Example: The parents with children facing the transition from middle school to high school are looking for resources and advice on how to manage this transition and prepare their children for life beyond high school. Your school offers programs and resources to address both. Share information about those resources through the words of the parents of school alumni and what appealed most to them about these resources.
Act III: The Challenge is Overcome
Think about how the lives of your audience can be improved if they follow through on your recommendations for overcoming the identified challenge.
Example: Share success stories of the alumni who benefitted from the transition and preparation resources you have to offer.
Mastering the art of storytelling can increase the success of your school marketing efforts and ultimately lead to enrollment growth for your school.