Explaining what makes your school or district great sounds like an easy task to most passionate marketing and communications professionals. After all, you know first hand all the things — big and little — that make your school stand apart from the rest.
Our academics are the best in the state. Our study abroad programs offer cultural diversity. Our faculty to student ratio is 6:1. Our distance learning initiatives are running smoothly.
Vague statements like those get lost in the crowd — especially today. Articulating exactly why an applicant should choose your school — and not your competitor — can be more difficult than it seems. It requires an understanding of who your ideal audience is, what their pain points and goals are, and how your school helps them achieve those goals while alleviating pain points. The clear and concise statement you create to engage your audiences is called your "value proposition."
No time to read? Learn the basics of value propositions in Episode 1 of The School Marketing Show Live!
Tips for Creating a School Value Proposition
- What is a Value Proposition?
- The Value Exchange
- How to Identify Your School's Value Proposition
- Implementing Your Value Proposition on Your Website
There are thousands of schools and districts, but there's only one just like yours. A value proposition helps you share what makes yours special — and the best choice for your prospective families.
A value proposition is a statement that describes the benefits students and families can expect from attending your school, why your school is a better choice than the alternatives, and how your school helps a student or family solve a pain problem or fulfill their utmost desire, through your school's unique solutions. A value proposition is not a slogan, a mission statement, a positioning statement, or a list of offerings and features. It is a concise statement that answers the most important question of all: "why?"
Once you have identified your value proposition, it becomes a filter for the stats you add to infographics, the testimonials you share on your website, the content that you post on social, and the photos and videos you choose. It is the foundation of your school or district's messaging.
Parents want to know that the value of an education choice outweighs the costs. For parents looking to send their child to private school, the cost is obvious: tuition. And for parents looking to send their child to public school, the cost isn't as obvious as a tuition payment. Families may move to a particular town to ensure their child goes to a good public school — and that is a cost too.
Once you understand your audience, you can tailor your value proposition to pinpoint pains and desires that will resonate. Highlighting the ways your school or district can alleviate those pains makes the costs of not enrolling should feel urgent and tangible.
This cost/benefit evaluation occurs at all steps of the application process — from clicking a social ad to re-enrolling for their senior year. And now, this couldn't be more true. Families may be searching for a new public or private school because they are unhappy with how their child's current school handled COVID-19 and distance learning. Many schools were unable to fulfill what their value proposition promised.
For this reason, securing and sharing your value proposition is imperative for securing re-enrollment and attracting new families.
A great value proposition has the following characteristics:
- Concise and easy to understand
- Defines what you do
- Explains how your school/district resolves a pain point for your potential customer
- Displayed front and center on your website
- Answers the question: “Why should I enroll my child at your school or district?"
- It is true — and can be backed up with data, testimonials, and evidence
Identifying your school's value propositions requires three steps:
- Identify your ideal prospect(s)
- Understand how you bring them value
- Know what you offer uniquely well, or at least better then most
For example, Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools in Connecticut has a great value proposition: a private school experience in a public school setting. This value proposition is a clear indicator that the district understands what they do uniquely well, and how to share that with families.
Another way to identify your school's value proposition is to take a look at your mission statement and/or slogan. For many schools and districts, the value proposition is a new version of those familiar marketing pieces.
For example, for Purnell School in New Jersey, their value proposition is an extension of their slogan, "Discover the best of yourself".
Your website is your most valuable marketing tool — especially when in-person opportunities are temporarily off the table. All applicant families will visit your website, and you must use it to communicate your unique value proposition. And, because you only have about seven seconds to engage your site visitors, your value proposition must be made clear in that very brief period of time. That's where photos, videos, testimonials, college matriculation lists, and infographics come in! Use the combination of text and media to create a meaningful story and message that conveys the value of your school's education.
In this example, Our Lady of Good Counsel High School focuses on proving their students feel welcome by backing up their awesome value proposition with three video testimonials.
Seacrest Country Day School in Naples, FL focuses on "small classroom, big experiences,". This value proposition is brought to life by the photo of students on a boat at sea — an experience definitely unique to Seacrest!
One of Derby Academy's value propositions is: the best educational choice on the South Shore for Pre-K through Grade 8 education. A bold claim? Yes. But it is also unique to their school, clear, concise — and true! According to both Niche.com, GreatSchools.org and Facebook, Derby Academy truly is the best educational choice for their niche.
But...what happens if your school can't make such a bold claim? Keep a steady focus on that 5% that makes your school or district special.
And lastly, this value proposition, located front-and-center on Asheville School's website speaks to the school's unique experience.
Value propositions should be the foundation of your school's messaging — and if your school or district currently does not have a value proposition, creating one has never been more important. And if you do have one, re-evaluating both what your value proposition is and how you fulfill that value promise in light of COVID-19 is imperative to your long-term success.
Looking for more information on value propositions?
- Download our value proposition worksheet and template
- Check out these 10 examples of great school value propositions
- Read how to take photos to support your value proposition
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Director of Demand Generation, Mia shares innovative and helpful content that helps schools and districts create captivating online experiences that increase brand awareness, student and faculty retention, and school-to-home communications. With more than six years experience in the industry, Mia has written more than 200 articles, eBooks, and reports about best practices for schools on a variety of topics from social media to web design. As a former TV and news reporter, and wedding photographer, Mia specializes in sharing how to use storytelling to power your school's admissions funnel.