For parents investigating private schools, marketing isn’t business, it’s personal.
The money, time and energy that parents invest in a child’s formation could be spent in a million ways. In light of all the things clamoring for their priorities, we can get behind these words from Go Camp Pro that families “don’t want to be marketed to, they want to be sold.”1
Parents looking for a school for their children usually have narrowed some things down – whether they want a learning experience that’s religious, specialized, nature-intensive or conveniently located.
So, once they’ve found your school what sells them? Conviction and human connection, according to Go Camp Pro experts.
This example is about traditional summer camps, but if you insert “private schools” into the below references to camp, the statement holds true. The investment parents make is “an incredibly generous and selfless gift,” according to a blogpost from Indian Head Camp. “Summer camp isn’t for parents … it’s for their children—and it’s an experience that is so grand and delicate it’s almost impossible to describe.”2
Parents make these sacrifices for their children out of their conviction that the experience is important for their child.3 They want to be sold on your conviction, too.
That means you truly believe the child will be better off for having experienced your camp or school.
Again from James Davis of Go Camp Pro, “If I believe that the happiness of a young person is dramatically more likely if they find my camp vs. one of their other summer options, you can bet your bottom dollar I will do whatever it takes to get that kid to camp.”
Davis continues, “If you don’t believe that your camp is the very best for kids to go to, why should they believe it? If there are better camps for them to go to, shouldn’t we just redirect them to those other, better camps? I don’t mean to sound harsh here, but I believe this level of resolution is incredibly important.”
Davis describes the lengths to which Laura Kriegel, director of Camp Stomping Ground, has gone to recruit kids:
- Driven up to four hours to meet prospective campers for milkshakes
- Called every single camp family several times a year
- Learned how to create numerous videos about her program
- Personally overseen her program’s social media presence
- Taught free library classes/community classes
- Called current families to seek advice on how to reach more families like them
- Volunteered at local/like-minded organizations wearing Stomping Ground gear
- Provided babysitting for potential camper families
- Lugged the ga-ga pit to booths at local fairs
- Met with campers and parents asking their advice on how to make camp better
Which leads us to the other selling point …
While we often tout the importance of digital marketing, we also recognize that nothing can replace the value of a face-to-face conversation. Here’s how a friend of mine described her experience with a private school admissions process:
I doubt I’ll ever forget our admissions counselor’s name, our interview, and her influence on the process for us. Before meeting with her, we’d pretty much decided private school was not financially viable for us, but we went ahead with the interview out of courtesy and curiosity. Afterward, my husband said to me, in all seriousness, “Maybe I should get another job.” Though it made no sense for us financially, we took a leap of faith and enrolled our son in kindergarten. Now, he’s in seventh grade, and our two daughters also are enrolled.”
Personal stories like this could explain why Laura spends hours driving to have milkshakes with potential campers, teaching free community classes, and sitting in booths at local fairs.
But she’s also leveraging her relationships with current families to reach more kids through their personal connections. Why? Because the reason parents entrust their child to a camp or school often traces back to a personal recommendation or a family legacy.
So as you plan recruiting tactics for the coming year, consider evaluating your conviction and connections. And always be open to finding new ways to make marketing as personal as possible.