Think Outside…and Inside…the Box, Then Remember to Do.

At this point in history, the phrase, “Think Outside the Box,” probably sounds trite, since people have been saying it for around 30 years. Yet, I hesitate to say “Think Inside the Box,” because that’s what causes isolation and sometimes stifles creativity. Just as we talk about the faith-based school as a ministry, a business AND a school, all types of thinking are needed – linear and systemic, outside and inside the box, and the visioning type of thinking that results from brainstorming/”big thinking” and “deep thinking.”

Today, let’s look at outside and inside the box thinking as they pertain to marketing your school.

First, outside. I’ve spoken with many schools that are trying to attract new students by putting brochures for their schools in their Narthex, or are contacting other churches that surround them to attract students from that congregation. The problem is that much of this type of marketing is the equivalent of “preaching to the choir.” Remember that Jesus told us to “Go out into the world and spread the Good News.” We are an evangelization people. So let’s evangelize. Put those brochures in places in your community to attract new students and new families. The top four places: supermarkets, doctors’ offices, gyms and hair/nail salons. These are places where young mothers “wait.” Capitalize on that.

Second, inside. Take a look at what is unique and remarkable about your school. Make sure that is in your brochure. One school I like to highlight has a “buddy” system in place where older students are paired up with younger students to put responsibility and care for the community into action. One school doesn’t have a gym for a basketball team, but has created a jump-rope team for heart health and physical fitness. It also functions as a marketing vehicle for the school as they tour locations throughout the community. Recently, the members of the team went to Great Britain for the first worldwide competitive jump rope competition. One school has a high school student come in to teach sign language to elementary school students so that all the children are fluent in ISL when they leave the school.  When silence is necessary in the school, students are still able to communicate with one another, too!  Remember – you may think something is not remarkable simply because your school has been doing it for so long that you consider it to be a part of what your school does.  However, if you ask your school’s parents what they find remarkable about the school, you may discover it is precisely those things that keep them involved and their children enrolled in the school.  If it resonates with parents that much, I guarantee you it’s what other parents that are not a part of your school community are craving for their children and for themselves, too.

And keeping them engaged with your school is the first step to growing your school’s enrollment.

As for “Then Remember to Do,” that’s the next step.  You may have to change your thinking, but the new thinking must then be put into action.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2009-2014 (Original Publication Date: 20090309)