“Show, don’t tell.” This is often the first, and most important, lesson filmmakers and writers learn. With visual storytelling, emotions, thoughts, and character should be conveyed through action or striking visuals, not blunt dialogue.
The same is true for school marketing, whether it’s for your homepage marketing video, student and parent testimonials, day in the life videos to convey your school’s uniqueness, or whatever story you want to tell to the people that visit your website.
Show -- don’t tell -- how amazing and unique your school is.
Show -- don’t tell -- how your school cultivates an atmosphere of excellence that fosters student growth.
Show -- don’t tell -- how your school uniquely prepares students for success in college and beyond.
These are just a few examples of what video marketing can be used for, but if you can accomplish these three goals, and more, you can transform your school’s typical marketing videos into a far better first step into the application journey.
There’s a delicate balance in digital marketing that’s often difficult to find between disseminating information and creating a fun video that people want to watch. We’ve identified these five schools that have mastered this delicate balance. And, most importantly, these schools don’t just tell you their story, they show it their video marketing strategy.
Ironically, one of the hardest questions for schools to answer is “Who are you?” Or, asked another way, what makes your school really different.
Forman perfectly answers that question with their “Who is Forman?” video. Though this is a more conventional marketing video, Forman’s video has incredible production value, soft narration, and music that invites the viewer to watch until the end, while testimonials from parents and staff inform watchers about what makes Forman such a great place to learn.
Forman specializes in teaching students who learn differently than their peers, a point the video capitalizes on. For a parent with a child who has had difficulty learning in a more conventional educational system, seeing students with similar difficulties express their new-found joy in learning creates a strong emotional tie that can make that decision to apply that much easier.
Forman’s “Can one school make a difference?” video focuses more on real-world cases of students who found success at Forman by using parent testimonials.
Prospective parents are more likely to connect to other parents who have made the same decision they are currently considering. The shorter format makes these testimonial format videos far more appealing and easier to watch, increasing the chance a prospective parent will watch.
Keep these testimonial videos short and direct with answers to the very questions that parents are most likely to ask. These testimonial videos should be one of the first resources prospective families see when they visit your website. Answering these initial questions and easing some worries or potential objections early on greatly increases the likelihood that these families move along to the inquiry phase.
Avon Old Farms
In their own words, Avon Old Farms’ mission is to be “the best college preparatory school for boys.” It’s a lofty goal and one that can be hard to show, even through video. Try too aggressively, and you risk turning away prospects who feel like they’re being sold to. Approach too softly, and you risk failing to showcase why your school is the best of the best.
Avon found the Goldilocks zone with their “All-Boys Advantage” video.
Avon is a uniquely beautiful campus in the heart of Connecticut that transports students, staff, and visitors alike to an almost medieval Europe-style village? This unique experience conveyed perfectly through striking visuals mixes perfectly with this video’s strong central message about the advantage young men can find in an all-boys school that develops the core values of brotherhood, scholarship, and integrity that defines Avon students.
Compelling narration from Avon staff, satisfied parents, and current students hits every nail, and this short two-minute video masterfully shows how Avon cultivates an environment of leadership and education that prepares students for future success.
For a more relatable approach to prospective students, Avon featured a handful of current students in their “R.E.A.L. Learning” testimonial video.
Seeing current students express how much they love Avon does wonders for helping persuade prospective students still on the fence about applying, and seeing Avon teachers also helps them connect to the school with a sneak-peek of the people they will work with most closely.
From music videos and program highlights, to testimonials and scholarship overviews, McCallie has a video for nearly every question a prospective family can ask, and a video for nearly every reason a person might be interested in applying to their school.
For example, take a look at their “We Made it Boys” video.
As any student, parent, teacher, or school staff member can attest, 2020 was an incredibly difficult year for the entire education system. Learning from home created thousands of suddenly unique and difficult problems for educators, and students who left their homes to attend schools like McCallie suddenly found themselves back at home in quarantine, learning online, separated from their peers.
McCallie’s video here perfectly summarizes triumph with narration reminding students of the challenges they overcame over the course of 2020, the passion McCallie’s students have for their school and the friends they’ve made along the way, and the rush of emotions that come with finally returning back to school the following year, stronger than ever through bonds forged online over a difficult year.
McCallie has cultivated an immense video library that is not just motivational with a serious tone. As you can see on their “The Spirit of McCallie” page, the school positions themselves and their videos as being equally committed to both excellence and fun in their storytelling, a claim they’ve more than backed up.
On the same page, visitors can find the “We Are McCallie - Football Hype Video” that (quite obviously) serves as a motivational hype video for the school’s football team just above the “McCallie Wars” video that shows the school’s approach to poking fun at itself with some remarkable production value to boot.
“More Than We Expected” answers the question of “How could you let your boys go away for high school?” with real-world answers from parents who did exactly that. As a parent, seeing other parents who trusted McCallie to care for and educate boys at the most formative time in their lives is a major selling point, especially when this particular family trusted McCallie enough to send all three boys to their school.
For boys curious about the prospect of leaving home to attend high school, perhaps leaving home for the first time, seeing other guys their age talk about how the McCallie experience has made them stronger, self-reliant, and more self-confident with close friendships that will last a lifetime is a hard-to-beat argument for attending McCallie.
Short and sweet. That’s the best way to describe Trinity-Pawling’s “Our Campus” video.
Campus tour videos need to wow and impress viewers with spectacular imagery and/or important information. Trinity-Pawling wisely focuses on the former for this campus tour video that features impressive drone shots of their beautiful campus and energetic music to create an enthusiastic mood. It’s hard not to be blown away after watching this incredible aerial tour of their campus
Another excellent video from Trinity-Pawling is their “We Call Ourselves the Pride” introductory video that touches on what makes the school so special through student narration and professional camera work that invites the viewer to take a deeper look at the school and makes them want to learn more. The video is warm, energetic, and somehow creates a sense of nostalgia for a school I’ve never attended. The ability to invoke the feeling in someone who has never been to your school is more than enough reason to demonstrate how successful this video can be.
Springfield School District
Video marketing is gaining popularity in public school districts. Springfield School District stands out from neighboring districts, featuring video highlights on how individual teachers are using technology in new and creative ways.
A few videos from the Springfield Educational Television (SETV) series are found tucked away on the district’s technology page under the Instructional Technology accordion in the Spotlight Videos tab.
The first of the five videos, titled “Live Center Lesson Strategy,” shows how students are more engaged and interested in their classroom learning exercises after their teacher, Sandy Connor, created video lessons for a more personalized learning experience.
The second video, “Kahoot,” has high school history teacher Scott Holloway demonstrate how the Kahoot learning software made classroom learning a more competitive experience, causing his students to become more engaged as they try to outscore their fellow classmates.
You can see in each of these videos that the students are far more engaged in the classroom as they actively participate in discussions, raise their hands to answer questions, and genuinely enjoy learning, evident by the smiles on their faces.
It’s always easy to plop a camera down in front of someone and film them talking about how technology improved the classroom learning experience, but Springfield went the extra step to capture plenty of footage of children learning and having fun in the classroom to show, not tell.
Just like filmmaking, school video marketing always comes down to show, don’t tell. After all, video is a primarily visual medium. It’s tempting to keep your videos simple with just “talking heads”, but prospective families want to and expect to see more.
Use everything your school has to offer to impress those families still on the fence about applying. Follow in the footsteps of these five schools and make the most out of your campus’s natural beauty, your talented students and staff, and current parents who are willing to speak on your school’s behalf. But most importantly, show, don’t tell, your school’s unique story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.