Festivals and Parades

With the Fourth of July holiday this coming weekend, and parish festivals springing up week after week, I’ll ask the question that seems to strike fear into the hearts of school administrators at this time of the year: “What are you doing to make your school visible in the local Fourth of July celebration or at your parish festival?”

Here’s a typical answer to the question:

“But you don’t understand.  School is finally over for the year, and we need a break!  Especially after this year, with all those rescheduled storm days, and they’re even talking about extending the school year!  With the economic difficulties we’ve seen this past year, we need a little bit of time before we have to revisit those conversations again.”

Indeed, everyone needs “a break;” but taking a break for month, such as closing the school for the month of July, isn’t helpful to your school’s continued existence anymore.

If you’ve read some of the articles on this site, recall that Marketing is Education, and Enrollment is Sales.  There’s a phrase that’s ingrained in the sales professional’s mindset – “If a shark stops swimming, it dies.”  Sales professional are often chided by their families because “they’re always working.  They don’t know how to relax.  They have no life.”  Well, they do have a life, and the consummate sales professional’s life is always looking out for better ways to serve their customers.  As school administrators, “taking a break” may mean that you miss 10 parents that have called the school wanting more information about enrollment or want to schedule a tour.

But even Jesus needed a break at times, and would go off to a deserted place from time to time to pray or to be renewed, and encouraged his followers to do the same.  What did He do when He needed a break?  He took a “vacation” – and left the area.  If you’re still “around,” you’re going to be continually drawn into the work that needs to be done.  With our “constantly connected” ability today via the Internet and cellular technology, it’s important to find some time to go to a “deserted” place, and today, that may mean turning the iPad and mobile phone off.

There are, however, some key opportunities to market your school during the summer.  The ability to market your school during a parish festival or a parade is phenomenal – especially if people come from miles around to participate in the festival (and they do) or to watch the parade.  Sponsor a booth at the parish festival, and have information about your school available while visitors come for the food, fun and fellowship.  Or create a banner for your school and have families march in the parade.  After all, your school is a vital part of the community!

Isn’t this a lot to do?  Indeed, it is.  The point is that you can’t do it all yourself.  You need a team of people who are, if you will, the “disciples” of your school.  How many people should be on your school’s marketing committee?  Perhaps 12 would be a good number to start with.

In about 6 months, you’ll have another great opportunity to market your school to a very large group of people – those attending Mass or the services around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Will you have representatives from your school on hand to welcome families coming to Mass in the parishes that support your school, or the worship services at churches where your families worship?  Or will you need a break then too?

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2015 (Original Publication Date: 20100628)