Welcome! Marketing Corner is a resource for Adventist schools in Northern California, and beyond. The two sections below provide overview information. Beneath that, you'll find a series of recommended specific marketing actions organized by when to do them.
The Adventist Advantage –– a one-page summary of key benefits of Adventist education, backed up with evidence
What works in marketing Christian schools, and why?
Concept #1: Word of mouth -- Why is great word of mouth essential for Christian schools?
Concept #2: Three benchmarks -- What must come before increasing enrollment?
Concept #3: Five steps -- What specific steps should you take to effectively market your school?
Ongoing and Monthly Tasks
Below you'll find a series of recommended specific marketing actions organized by when to do them.
Ensuring parents enroll -- An overview of the best practices for staff to use in talking with prospective parents, scheduling a visit with the principal and ensuring your school stays in touch until the family chooses a school. (The following tips are more detailed information for various steps outlined here.)
Handle leads effectively: Get ready
Handle leads effectively: Why scheduling a parent-principal consultation should be your first goal
Handle leads effectively: Set aside weekly time for parent-principal consultations
Handle leads effectively: Use a method for tracking leads
Sample form: Inquiry checklist and tracking (pdf)
Sample form: Inquiry checklist and tracking (Word) A editable script for phone answerers and tracking each step between first contact and enrollment.
Handle leads effectively: Use the inquiry form for same day follow up
Handle leads effectively: Offer Education Success Consultations
Handle leads effectively: Talk to prospective parents in Education Success Consultation.
Handle leads effectively: Emphasize your mission during a school tour.
Handle leads effectively: Invite prospective students to spend time in the classroom
Handle leads effectively: Call parents after their visits.
Handle leads effectively: Summary
Handle leads effectively: Summary adapted for Covid
Handle leads effectively: Learn what works for other schools
Teachers' role in marketing -- This series clarifies that teachers have only two responsibilities in marketing: Terrific teaching and primo parent communication. These messages focus on what research tells us will be most effective.
Teachers' role: Research says the quality bar is set high -- Focusing on what parents find most important
Teachers' role: Research says character development is more important than academics -- Understanding that parents evaluate character development based on how your students behave
Teachers' role: Research says academics are still vital, even if second to character development -- Understanding how parent concerns impact your school
Teachers' role: Research says parents evaluate your teaching based on your communication with them -- Prioritizing communication and designing it for parent convenience
Teachers' role: Learning from research means communication needs to be designed around what the customer needs -- Making your communication essential but also efficient for parents
Teachers' role: Research says parents want to know how their child is progressing -- Realizing what makes student progress communication easy for parents
Teachers' role: Learning from research means sharing student progress and upcoming assignments conveniently -- Using Renweb and newsletters for progress and assignments
Teachers' role: Learning from research means listening actively to parents -- Making your primo parent communication two-way
Thank someone -- Process for principals (and others) to systematically create positive contacts between the school and your supporters
Referral incentives –– What to do and not do to encourage referrals
Referral incentives: Three reasons why offering large tuition discounts for recruiting can backfire
Referral incentives: How to thank referrers effectively
Exit interviews -- Explains exit interviews for teachers, principal, and board members, with a suggested outline for the conversation
Form: Exit interviews for teachers and staff -- One page to give to teachers and staff members who are doing exit interviews
Form: Exit interviews for board members -- One page (front and back) to give to board members who are doing exit interviews
Take compelling photos with your phone -- Tips for taking photos for social media or your website's photo gallery
Newsletters -- Using effective communication to parents as a way to increase parent satisfaction (Research has demonstrated that parents evaluate teaching quality based on the school's communication to them. You are right! This is not fair to you, but it is the reality not just for schools but for other professions.)
Newsletters: Send a weekly parent newsletter -- Outlines why newsletters are important and how to structure yours
Newsletters: Make your weekly newsletter essential -- Ideas for consolidating communication so everyone uses the newsletter consistently
Newsletters: Who, what, where, when, why form -- A sign to post over the computer of everyone writing information for your newsletter
Newsletters: Proofread & use a template -- Why being consistent and word perfect is important
Newsletters: Weekly school newsletter -- Features of an effective newsletter
Sample form: Weekly school newsletter template -- (link for the Google Doc) An editable version which can be copied to your Google Drive for editing by your staff
Sample: Weekly classroom update -- A sample classroom update (Sacramento Adventist Academy)
Sample: Weekly school email newsletter -- (MailChimp) A whole school newsletter (Sacramento Adventist Academy)
Train your parents and teachers -- Ideas on how to increase readership
Model good communication -- Improving communication with parents
Encouraging a positive school culture -- Our research is documenting that developing Christian character traits is the primary reasons parents seek and choose a Christian school for their child(ren). Seeing positive behavior in students during their interview process and experiencing it once they enroll is a critical factor in recruiting and retaining students. And besides, training the heart of each child is part of why we are an Adventist school. The following are samples you can adapt and adopt to reinforce positive behavior.
Sample form: Positive behavior form -- Sample pdf form for teachers to report students doing something praise-worthy (Lodi Academy)
Sample form: Positive behavior report home to parents -- Sample pdf form for sending a copy of the positive behavior form to parents when students are recognized (Lodi Academy)
Give school gift certificates at baby dedications -- Increasing your school's visibility in constituent churches
You are missionaries -- There is nothing to do in this message––just a reminder of the amazing importance of what you do
May your school be blessed so it can be a blessing -- There is nothing to do in this message––just a reminder that we are a conduit for God's blessings
Plan your back to school event -- Starting the year with positive expectations and enthusiasm
Mail a "good news" letter to all families, church members, community members –– Getting your community to feel proud of their school
Sample letter: Summer letter from Napa Christian
Mail a friendly welcome letter to all families -- Send a personalized letter to all school families and also invite them to refer a friend.
Making Facebook effective for schools -- Using Facebook to spread the good news about your school
Set clear guidelines and goals -- Setting a framework so you can delegate to a Facebook master
Know your audience –– Knowing who you're talking to and what they want to learn about
Pick the right content –– Engaging your audience by posting social content, not nagging
Photos aren't optional –– Using photo to make your posts visible and shareable
Customer service -- The next several messages address questions you can discuss with your team as you work to improve customer service at your school
Raving Fans: Decide what you want in customer service -- Envisioning perfect customer service and discussing it with your team
Raving Fans: Decide what the customer wants in customer service -- Asking your customers what they want and listening effectively to their input
Raving Fans: Deliver the vision plus one percent in customer service -- Choosing incremental improvements you can deliver consistently while learning from parents what you can address next
The Starbucks Experience: Discuss customer service with your team -- Reviewing the book you assigned for summer reading
The Starbucks Experience: Outline customer service details to improve this year -- Making tangible changes to increase parent satisfaction
The Starbucks Experience: Impress parents even when things go wrong -- Helping your staff pre-think how to transform grumpy into loyal
The Starbucks Experience: Embrace resistance -- Learning from people who are not supportive
Customer service: 29 ideas to make your customers (parents and kids) smile -- Ideas from Mark Witas, presented at Pacific Union Conference Spring Education Council 2017
Be welcoming -- Set the attitude, then ask a volunteer to look at your school from a visitor's point of view
Create "school maven" families -- Connecting new families with enthusiastic ones at your back-to-school event–new parent resource page (Word)
Cast your school's vision -- Writing a mission statement to set your course and inspire your community
Share state of the school information -- Reminding parents about your success indicators as well as plans for further improvement
Share your improvement plan -- Telling parents about your school's plan for improvement at your back to school event
Check your outgoing phone message -- Ensuring your message is up-to-date and conveys professionalism
Call parents monthly -- Actively listening to parents
Start positive buzz in your community -- Improving your school's visibility and image through board members and yourself
Create a "year in review" folder -- Have a place (digital or physical) to gather good news and significant events from throughout the school year.
Delegate exit interviews -- Ensure both staff and school board members do different types of exit interviews––then act on what you learn.
Retention -- Understanding your retention and overcoming the toughest retention points
Retention: Calculating retention –– Using NAD Dashboard information to calculate retention appropriately. Note: Do not use the "Student Retention" report. Your school's retention will look worse than it actually is and it can not be meaningfully compared to a national benchmark.
Retention: Retain preschoolers into kindergarten -- Connecting with preschool parents personally and through your kindergarten teacher
Retention: Retain preschoolers into kindergarten -- Connecting through preschool teachers
Retention: Retain eighth graders into high school -- Connecting with eighth graders and their parents
Retention: Integrate new parents and show you understand –– Helping new parents quickly feel part of the school
Retention: Define your school's lingo for new parents –– Helping new parents quickly feel part of the school by teaching them your school's unique vocabulary
Explain the importance of IA tests with advice for parents -- Sample messages for helping parents help their students do well on the IAs. Please note: This is a Word file which will download to your computer so you can copy and paste the content if you choose to use one of these messages to your school parents.
Retention: Help new students connect with classmates –– Keeping new students over the long term starts with integrating them at the beginning
Teachers Role in Marketing -- How teachers should focus only on terrific teaching and primo parent communication
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 1 Focusing on what parents find most important
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 2 Character development is your highest priority
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 3 Academics are still vital
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 4 Prioritize communication as essential
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 5 Communicate in a way that is convenient for parents
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 6 Commit to primo student progress communication
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 7 Communicate progress conveniently for parents
Teachers Role in Marketing: Part 8 Listen, listen, listen
Education Expo -- Whether you call this event an open house or an education expo, you need an event where you can highlight the great learning that happens at your school. This can both energize your current parents and be an opportunity to invite potential parents. The following messages focus on prepping in the fall for an event in January or early February.
Education Expo: Plan an open house -- The first steps in planning an open house to demonstrate and celebrate great learning to current & prospective parents
Education Expo: Start open house planning -- Reminder and overview of open house planning
Education Expo: Open house attendance -- Outlines ideas for getting people to come to your open house
Education Expo: Open house activities -- A list of possible activities for demonstrating the quality of your academic program
School Success Seminar -- This event combines providing a valuable service to your community and creating an excuse to publicize your school. Thank you, Larry Unterseher, for the idea.
School Success Seminar: Plan a "Helping Your Child Succeed in School" seminar -- Offering a seminar for school and community parents to learn how to help their child succeed in school
School Success Seminar: Promote your seminar internally -- Ideas for encouraging school and church parents to attend your "Helping Your Child Succeed in School" seminar
School Success Seminar: Ready or not? -- Determine readiness to promote your school success seminar to your community
School Success Seminar: Promote your seminar externally -- A template and steps for customizing and using it to promote your seminar to your community
Family visitation –– You can pick one of the following two options, but don't try to do both. Your parents are likely to feel a little overwhelmed if teachers and board members both visit them.
Family visitation: Schedule in-home visits with students' families -- Building positive relationships with parents
Family visitation: Ask school board members to combine a satisfaction survey with in-home visits -- Building relationships between parents and board members while learning how parents view the school
Research potential feeder schools -- Learning which schools you will want to try to promote through
Build relationships with feeder schools -- Connect with the educators at potential feeder schools
Start telling your parents now -- Outlining deadlines and fees that will be expected next year
Schedule recruiting performances at local schools -- Promoting your school and it's music program through tailored concerts for elementary schools
Avoid creating angry parents -- Telling parents soon and often what the deadlines and fees will be for re-enrolling next year.
Ask Renweb to set up online application and enrollment -- Delighting parents with a quicker way to register their students for next year
Enrollment materials -- Ensuring that all the materials a parent sees when applying and registering are attractive and consistent. Note: this message used to include samples of print materials. However, since you can now all use Renweb for online applications and enrollment I strongly recommend you do so. It will save your parents significant time if they have more than one child and for re-enrollment––and it saves you time in data entry.
Find the good news in your IA results -- Creating positive talking points for your community
Find the bad news in your IA results -- Creating credibility by evaluating and addressing areas to improve
Ask parents to write online reviews -- Increasing online visibility and credibility
Thank You Sabbaths -- Refocusing Education Sabbaths to thank your constituent church(es)
Education Expo: Steps to take in October for a successful education expo or open house
Education Expo: Create the materials for promoting your open house -- Templates available for you to customize in Canva
Education Expo: Offer options for visiting your school -- In promotional materials list more than one way for parents to see your school
Chico Oaks postcard back (pdf)
Foothills postcard back (pdf)
Ask your board chair to call new families -- Delighting and creating ties to new families
Apply for the Marketing Mentoring program -- Preparing your application if you want marketing help
Thank families and supporters -- Sending thank you cards during the month of November as part of your school's giving thanks
Know where you can promote events locally, for free -- Researching organizations where families gather information and hang out
Make your Christmas program count for community building -- Planning events that help families and staff create and strengthen community bonds
Education Expo: Steps to take in November for a successful education expo or open house
Prepare open house packets #1 -- Ordering supplies for packets to give open house visitors
Prepare open house packets #2 -- Gathering the items to go in your open house packets
Sample: Schedule/checklist/program for open house packets -- The checklist Napa Christian includes in their open house packet
Start promoting your winter Education Expo -- Inviting parents and church members to come and bring their friends
Sample: Postcard for open house promotion -- The postcard Chico Oaks gave to parents and church members for promoting the open house
Updating the media release -- Adding five words to expand your media release and allow social media use for images and videos
Thanksgiving -- There is nothing to do in this message, just a reminder to be thankful for your personal blessings
Make your Christmas program welcoming -- Creating a comfortable environment for your students' guests
Google Adwords: Adwords is a tool for advertising on Google search results pages. The next series of messages provide basic information for advertising with Adwords.
Create a Google account for your school -- Setting up an account to use with Google Adwords
Check your website for three critical items -- Ensuring your Adwords investment will be worth it
Set up Google My Business -- Ensuring Google's search displays are accurate, and this is free
Train current parents so you don't waste money -- Understanding what determines your advertising cost
Set up your first Adwords ad -- Walking through the initial set up of your first ad
Set important Adwords refinements -- Using more detailed settings than are available in the initial set-up
Check on Adwords performance -- Evaluating the effectiveness of Adwords for your school
The Christmas Story -- There is nothing to do in this message, just a reminder to keep the Christmas story real
Find satisfaction in your toil -- There is also nothing to do in this message since this is the second week of Christmas vacation
Create an expenses worksheet for parents –– Helping parents plan for expenses by outlining all costs in your registration paperwork.
Re-enrollment –– The re-enrollment process can contribute to retaining students. The following ideas explain the importance of this process and help you streamline the process.
Re-enrollment: Focus on re-enrollment in January and February –– An overview of the advantages for starting re-enrollment now.
Re-enrollment: Make it simple and pleasant –– Ideas for making re-enrollment as simple and pleasant as possible for your current parents
Re-enrollment: Give students and parents an incentive to re-enroll -- Motivating both students and parents
Re-enrollment: Motivate parents to commit for next school year -- Using both a carrot and stick to motivate enrollment/re-enrollment
Re-enrollment: Get your school board on board -- Starting the process for next year, even if you can't implement tiered re-enrollment this year
Re-enrollment: Start telling your parents now -- Outlining the deadlines and fees that will be expected in January of next year
Education Expo checklist -- Finalizing plans for an impressive open house
Constituency meeting -- Spreading enthusiasm among potential referrers
Add this call to action to your website -- Invite website visitors to schedule an "Education Success Consult"
Don't recruit, Connect and follow up -- Ideas from successful schools for meeting with potential parents
Accept only excited families -- Why accepting only parents and students who are excited about your school is important
Sample form: New student/principal interview -- A list of questions for talking with applicant students to ensure they are excited to attend (Lodi Academy)
Apply for the Marketing Mentoring program -- Broad summary of the NCC-sponsored marketing resource program. Note: the deadline is different now but the program overview is still pertinent
Retention –– A series of messages to focus on the advantages of Christian education in preparing students for an uncertain world.
Retention: Help parents see the ongoing value of your school –– Reminding parents of your highest priorities
Use non-exit interviews to improve retention –– Talking with parents about next year's plans
Schedule and plan an "advancement" ceremony -- For schools with multi-grade classrooms, consider shifting your graduation event to an advancement ceremony for the whole school
Don't offer discounts for first-year students -- Why offering discounts for first-time families is not a good idea
Satisfaction surveys: Survey parents now -- Options for parent surveys Note: you need to prep now so you can send the survey by the end of the month and have it back by spring break.
Satisfaction surveys: The ultimate question -- Using one question to learn how your parents view your school
Resource: GraceWorks Ministries survey -- This is the best survey option for your stakeholders. It has norming to 650+ Christian schools with 100,000+ respondents, it has very useful statistical analysis, and provides actionable data for you, your teachers and board.
Sample form: Satisfaction survey (paper) -- A shareholder (parents, students, constituents) satisfaction survey. For more information and/or to customize, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sample: Satisfaction survey (SurveyMonkey) -- A pdf where you can review the free survey available for using with your stakeholders. For more information and to arrange to use this in your school, email email@example.com
Resource: GraceWorks Ministries survey -- This is the best survey option for your stakeholders. It has norming to 650+ Christian schools with 100,000+ respondents, it has very useful statistical analysis, and provides actionable data for you, your teachers and board.
Satisfaction surveys: Walk on the (not so) wild side –– My commitments to making your survey constructive rather than critical.
Non-survey ways of measuring satisfaction: Gather constituent input –– Getting qualitative input from parents and constituents
List local VBS programs -- Suggestions for the most efficient way to create a list of local VBS programs
Participate in VBS programs -- Ideas for ways to help local VBS programs while making connections in your community
Spring break -- There is nothing to do in this message––just a reminder that rest is also good
Skip up day -- Outlines helping current students preview the next year and giving prospective students the chance to try your school for a day
Schedule the three annual marketing events -- While you are setting next year's calendar, remember to include the annual marketing events
Create an expenses worksheet for parents -- Helping parents plan for expenses by outlining all costs in your registration paperwork.
Offer "Bring a Friend Day" during public schools' spring break -- Encouraging students to invite a friend to school during spring break for your local public school district
Measure your school's improvement with a survey -- Thinking of a satisfaction survey as standardized testing for your school
Open house timing -- Timing your open house to get re-enrollment commitments for next year
Schedule a "back to school" event -- Create an event to inform and integrate families into your school
Use non-exit interviews to improve retention -- In the spring, talking with non-returning parents without assuming they are leaving
Combine your constituency meeting with a spring concert -- Scheduling a single event that showcases student achievements and provides your constituency report to a larger audience
Two events for the work of one -- A reminder and small addition for combining constituency meeting and spring concert.
Testimonials -- Taking the time to get great quotes from parents and students to include in everything you publish
Publish graduates' colleges -- Demonstrating your academic excellence by showing where your graduates are attending or have been accepted
Remind parents and board members of this year's great learning -- Sharing the good news and events you've collected in your Year in Review tickler file
Sample: Year in review sheet for school board members -- The Year in Review school board sheet for Lodi Academy, as an example
Ensure graduation represents your school well -- While focusing on student achievements make sure your visitors leave impressed
Share good news at graduation –– Highlighting the year's accomplishments to your biggest audience (with specific pandemic-related info, but applicable to any school year)
Prepare for contributing to VBS programs -- Planning for the commitments you made to help with local VBS programs
Choose next year's improvement goal -- Working with your team to choose, plan for and communicate with parents about improvements next year
Recruit a cheerleader -- Finding someone to make presentations about your school's successes without bragging
Christian character development -- Building an intentional plan for developing Christian character traits and making that visible for teachers, students and parents
Christian character development, part 1: Plan for intentional character development that is visible
Christian character development, part 2: Choose your school's core values
Christian character development, part 3: Define each of your core values memorably
Christian character development, part 4: Make your core values visible to parents, visitors and students
Christian character development, part 5: Make it happen
Christian character development, part 6: Share with your parents weekly
Christian character development, part 7: Reinforce good behavior
Christian character development, part 8: Use positive discipline to teach good behavior choices
Sample form: Form acknowledging students displaying core values -- Loma Linda Academy Elementary's "You're Grounded" form
Sample form: Form acknowledging staff displaying core values -- Loma Linda Academy Elementary's "You're Grounded" form for staff
Sample form: Letter to parents sharing positive behavior -- Lodi Academy's form letter to parents of boys (you can edit for girls)
Customer service -- Inspire your staff (and yourself) for customer service: Recommendations of books for summer reading on customer service. Some of the August "Marketing Corner" messages include discussion questions for talking with your staff about how you can apply the principles to customer service in schools.
Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
The Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli
Disney U by Doug Lipp
Research and write your school's talking points -- Creating a consistent message for you and your volunteers to communicate
Rethink your student handbook -- Ideas for rewriting your handbook to be family-friendly and promote your school
View your school from the outside -- Looking at your facilities from an external perspective
Websites -- Important components to making your website effective for recruiting
Websites for recruiting, part 1: An overview on making your website effective for recruiting
Websites for recruiting, part 2: Add a "call to action" to every page on the website
Websites for recruiting, part 3: Add a testimonial to every page on the website
Websites for recruiting, part 4: Focus on the mission on your home page
Websites for recruiting, part 5: Take tuition off your website
Websites for recruiting, part 6: Choose your words carefully
Websites for recruiting, part 7: Maximize search results
Update your website: Keeping your website current annually and monthly
What is on your gym walls -- Using your most public space to communicate what is most important to your school
Graduate photos show success -- Showing all visitors that your graduates go on to lead productive lives of service