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Feature Friday: Forman School's Video Marketing Strategy
Stephanie Griffin

In 2017, video has become more accessible and available almost anywhere — and it isn't predicted to slow down anytime soon. With video available on your smartphones, social media, and your website, this medium is quickly turning into the most consumed form of digital content. And the stats prove it!

People love video:

  • 55% of people watch videos online every day (MWP).
  • 65% of video viewers watch more than ¾ of a video (Syndacast)
  • 55% of people consume video content thoroughly (HubSpot).
  • 52% of marketers believe that video is effective for brand awareness (WowMakers).
  • 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI (Syndacast).

Video can help drive traffic on your website:

  • People spend on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without (Wistia).
  • Including video in a landing page can increase conversion by 80% (EyeView).

Video is quickly becoming most prevalent on social media:

  • 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound (Digiday).
  • Among millennials, YouTube accounts for two-thirds of the premium online video watch across devices (ThinkWithGoogle).
  • 500 million people are watching videos on Facebook every day (TubularInsights).

All these stats point to one thing: it's becoming more important to see many schools incorporate video marketing into their overall digital strategy because it works.

Why does this work? On a psychological level, it's because humans consume and remember visual content much more effectively than text content. On a social level, we've always seen video as a form of entertainment, so now that it is readily available, it's how today's users prefer to consume content. And on a personal level, today's user is slightly lazy, and has a short attention span — making video a preferred way to consume information and entertainment.

Forman School website homepage on laptop

One independent school in particular has puts a video marketing strategy at the center of its marketing: Forman School.

Forman School is a co-ed college-prep boarding and day school in Litchfield, CT for students in grades 9-12 and postgraduates who are bright and academically motivated. Our favorite aspect about Forman is how well they're using video marketing to tell not only the school's story, but its students' stories — something critically important for a school that focuses on recruiting students with learning differences.

John LaPerch, Director of Online Marketing at Forman School, had a clear vision this past school year when it came to this video marketing strategy. "As marketers, we all know videos can be powerful but what many people don't get is that it still has to be good video," he said. "There is so much competing noise out there and you need to give people a reason to want to watch."

John continued to share:

"I think the turning point here at Forman came this year as we moved away from what I call the 'sad violin video style:' violin music and sad faces. Yes, we are a school that caters to kids with some learning differences, and yes they may have struggled at times but these kids have their own amazing stories. And thinking differently is not a bad thing."

Rethinking Their Approach

As any other school, Forman is always working to attract more families to inquire on what the school has to offer for students today. When John returned to Forman last summer, he wanted to take their video marketing to the next level. This year the success was found in videos telling the stories of its students.

"We immediately produced a video called 'It's where I learned to be me,'" said John. "The idea was to quickly capture what Forman offers kids with Dyslexia, ADHD and ADD in a positive uplifting manner. The goal of the video was to jump start our inquiry pipeline. I choose Facebook as my main sharing platform because of the sharing tools: the "like" button, the comments, and the "share" button make this an ideal platform for giving the video a shot at going viral."

Sharing Videos In The Right Places

Video marketing is more than just posting the video and forgetting about it. There's a plethora of avenues your school can take video marketing online. For John, he saw email and social media as the two main avenues to spread their videos.

"We actively push the video via email to each of our constituent groups (current parents, past parents, alumni, faculty, staff, the board, ed consultants etc) with a message tailored to that group. We have found that this is a great way to get the modern equivalent of word of mouth marketing." said John.

"Our best marketers are those people that already know the school. The people in the trenches working with these kids want to share what they do every day more than most. Mostly, because they know they are making a difference."

During the last week in May, their open rates averaged around 48% which is fantastic! Along with including these videos in email newsletters, another great practice John has been following is taking these videos to social media. In addition, he posts these videos natively — AKA, in the timeline itself — rather than sharing from YouTube or Vimeo to ensure optimum reach. And to grow that reach even further, he put ad campaigns behind the videos to expand its reach to more audiences.

"We also put the video into the ad rotation on Facebook and AdWords," said John. "We created landing pages for each of the learning differences that we cater to and created ad copy to address that specific difference, using the video as the lynchpin for all. Each of these landing pages brought people to our inquiry form. This proved very effective and cost effective, We were no longer throwing darts at the wall and hoping something stuck. We were targeting those who were looking for us and talking directly to them."

Prior to really changing their video marketing approach and how they shared the videos, Forman's best video had only reached 1,600 views. Since the 'It's where I learned to be me" video was released in August of last year, it has reached nearly 20,000 people and has more than 13,000 views, it was clear they were onto something with their new video marketing strategy. "Once we established that video, for us, would be an effective marketing medium, we went all in," said John.

Start incorporating video into your marketing strategy with our free eBook, The Use of Video Among Independent Schools.

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Taking What Worked To Build A New Campaign

Knowing this knew approach was successful, John launched a new campaign sparked called "Different Does." The idea was to simply highlight the cool things the students were doing. John started with the video Can't Stop Me Now to set the new tone.

With an impressive 20K views, 34 comments, and 314 reactions, this was a successful start to the new campaign:

"We think it's empowering and fun, and it makes a big statement to people who think our kids can't do amazing things," says John.

Next, they rolled out a student profile of a kid making a music app as part of their ingenuity program. The video itself received 11K views, 26 comments, and 169 reactions:

"Again...the student was like a (natural) billboard for all we do here," said John. "He articulated how Forman changed him, how we helped him to stretch himself and then in a line we didn't feed him...summed up our marketing message: 'Forman taught me that different does.'"

They also did a fun welcome video for the incoming class for revisit day. The video had 8.3K views, 22 comments, and 158 reactions:

"Everything in this private school world is believed to be so serious, so I was glad to get some latitude to show something...different. There was a method to the madness there as show how the kids that go here are just," says John.

This last video, the college acceptance video was another chance to be different -and PS, it's a real tearjerker *grabs tissues*:

"We didn't do routine video of the kids saying where they are going next year," said John. "This time we reached out to their folks without them ever knowing and just had them show up to the filming. We hoped to capture the raw emotion and we think we did. But more than that...from a marketing perspective...we were looking to show outcomes. One thing we are very proud of here is our 100% college acceptance rate. This was a unique way to showcase that and still keep the Different Does thing going."

As of May 25th, this is the most successful video John has seen on Forman's social media.

"Last year our best video had 500 views. This has 12,000. The post has reached nearly 26,000 people and the shares and comments are off the charts. We also pulled in a bunch of inquiries right from this post."

Forman School Facebook Video Analytics

John also brought up some valid points on his overall social media usage. He's on social media 24/7 and is engaging with followers like an individual without a corporate voice. By bringing in his own humor, it helps give the school's page it's own personality.

What's next?

There are more videos to come with plans to roll out two more student profiles, an alumni profile, parent testimonials, faculty profile and an explainer video for the college office over the next few months. John also shared they are developing a toolbox page right on their website for the admissions office to use in their day to day and use these videos to cater to each prospect. "The idea is to develop a library that covers all aspects of Forman and what we offer and use them to reach each student uniquely," said John.

These videos have shown quite the success, but it's important to remember what the end goal is in any marketing strategy. John shared, "One aspect that we have not mentioned yet is that this is done with the sole purpose of ensuring that our inquiry pages get a ton of traffic. On that front, we went from having zero admissions pages in our top ten last year to having six of our top ten pages being admission-focused. We are big on measuring everything we do and recalibrating as needed."

Key Takeaway

Video marketing has become an important tool for schools today. It is one that can define a school's story, student experience, and offer a fresh, creative approach to your overall marketing strategy. Forman School's strategy exemplifies fresh ways to share not only your school's story, but your students' stories. These videos are simple, powerful and what your followers like to see more of.

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The Quick Guide for Optimizing Video for the Web


Stephanie Griffin

Stephanie brings a fresh new marketing perspective with her background in social media, communications, and radio broadcasting. She is a co-producer for the FinalsiteFM podcast network and is passionate about helping schools stay ahead of their marketing goals by tracking new trends and developments. She is also a practicing singer/songwriter and loves to expand her creativity in DIY projects.

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