“You never get a second chance
to make a good first impression.”
-- Will Rogers
How important is that first impression on the first day of school? Very! The experience on that first day alone can trump whatever happens the rest of the school year. First impressions are so powerful that they generally supersede your marketing and enrollment communications.
Based on a study of the neuroscience of first impressions at New York University (Daniela Schiller) the best way to make an effective impact is to give your target audience a good reason to trust you and prompt them to want a relationship with you.
How can you make the First Day of School a Home Run? One that deepens trust and relationships?
We've got for 4 Key Steps for you.
Step 1: Design Your Messages
Own your brand this year. Decide what messages you want to share about your overall vision, curriculum, faculty, facilities, results, plans, etc. What are the words, phrases, and stories that you want to consistently use throughout your verbal and written communications? What words, phrases and stories do you NOT want to use or share any longer?
Your messages need to be aligned and presented in a way that reflects who you serve and why. There is no perfect message -- you're goal is to design the best communications for the people in your target market that accurately conveys the brand and tone of voice that you want. Depending on the diversity of your community, you may need a few different messages even though you have the same core educational services. Rick Newberry of Enrollment Catalyst recently shared about Five Websites that Tell Their School's Story, which may give you some good ideas.
The forum (Online, live, recorded, in-person, written, etc.) in which you share your messages matters for several reasons. Online impressions are fast and widely shared but tend to be perceived more negatively than ones formed face-to-face. (Science Daily, "Even fact will not change first impressions," February 14, 2014) That's why the first day of school is so important. This "live" experience can reset perceptions shaped through social media or grapevine gossip and actually increase engagement.
Reinforce the key elements of your value proposition (e.g., curricular strategy, personalization, rigor, athletics, arts, location, peer groups, traditions, reputation, etc.), and seek to make the decision makers (Parents, students, etc.) in your target markets (rather than you and the school) the heroes of your narrative.
Introduce your students and parents to the new people, processes, and plans that you have for the year.
Connect them with the meaning and definitions that support your strategies through meaningful stories, testimonials, examples, and contrasts.
Make the first day of this upcoming school year a home run by intentionally and strategically designing your messages to further your mission and goals.
To be continued tomorrow ...