Messaging Your Value Proposition

Posted on May 19, 2016

Messaging is mission-critical as you attract new customers, retain current customers, and nurture long-term brand ambassadors that will lead to future leads. The challenge we each face within our own schools is prioritizing what to communicate given the plethora of opportunities for remarkable content coming out of our schools on a daily basis. As we approach the graduation season, this challenge is amplified. Every single day brings with it ‘blog worthy’ events, and we have too many stories to tell given our time and resources. It’s a great problem to have, but nonetheless, it is a problem.

Scott Allenby School Marketing Consulting

As we consider the different types of messaging our schools produce over the course of a day, a week, a month, and ultimately during an entire academic year, we must remember to consistently message our value proposition. InspirEd School Marketers recently posted THIS article noting the award winning charter schools in the Buck’s County area, highlighting an even more essential need for independent schools to message their value proposition effectively.

One of Proctor Academy’s Board of Trustees, shared THIS ARTICLE on the importance of messaging for entrepreneurs with me to share with my students in Proctor’s Entrepreneurship class. While directed at the opportunities a start-up has to shape messaging, schools can learn much from this piece. Of note, are the following take aways schools must take to heart as they shape effective messaging and further refine their value propositions:

1. Message the Impact, Not the Product

Too often, schools spend time talking about ‘what’ they do, and fail to demonstrate the impact of their programs. Alumni, student, and faculty profiles are a great place to start as you work to illustrate impact and clearly articulate the value proposition of the educational experience your school provides. As David Skok and Mike Troiano write, “Buyers usually don’t relate to that kind of message [description of products], and instead react better to messaging that gets at the heart of the benefits it will bring to their lives.” This is especially true when families are making a decision to enroll in an independent school and dedicate considerable financial resources to their child’s education.

2. Develop a Position Statement

How often are you asked to describe your school to a prospective student, a family member, or a colleague from another school at a conference or other event? How do you respond? Is it the same every time or does it vary based on your audience, your mood, or the current projects dominating your life? If you’re at all like me, you probably don’t have a clear, concise elevator pitch that effectively articulates your value proposition as a school. Skok and Troiano implore every young startup to develop his or her position statement as it will refine your internal understanding of the impact your school has on students. “You are dedicating everything to your company. Take the time to clarify your value proposition, discussing it, honing it, and writing it down.” This short video from the article linked above goes into more detail on the value of the position statement.

3. One Simple Thing (OST)

Skok and Troiano discuss the importance of developing ‘one simple thing’ that describes the impact of a company. It is challenging, and for most schools, it probably feels impossible to wrap the entirety of program offerings and diversity of students into a single statement. While schools may have a harder time coming up with an OST than more singularly focused companies, it is a powerful exercise that requires you to cut to the core competency of your school. As Skok and Troiano write, “If you don’t create an OST for the market, the market will create an OST for you.” This statement hits home for most schools, it did for me, as I consider Proctor’s reputation in the market place and seek to expand that limited perception of what we do to include all the programs, courses, and exciting things happening on our campus. The article linked provides some great thoughts on how to develop an OST for an organization.

As you enter the final week of the academic year and enter a summer of planning, strategizing, and content development, take the advice of Skok and Troiano to heart:

“Your task is to take the complicated and make it simple. Take the simple and make it compelling.”

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