Have you ever had a traditional method of thinking challenged?

Spoiler Alert! This post might do that – because your traditional school website, I’m sorry to say is dead.

Even the ‘good’ ones – you know – the schools that get great feedback on their website from their families.

Yes – I’m talking about you too. Unfortunately, there is some significant issues with all school websites which is resulting in large amounts of lost enrolment opportunities each year.

Read on and I’ll explain.

To varying degrees, you all have a website with some photos, a bunch of term dates, curriculum information and a button that says ‘enrolment’.

One would then rightly conclude your strategy can’t be that wrong, can it?

Yes. That thinking is very old hat.

Let me say this. Very early in my business career, I used to look at my competition and use them as the benchmark for what was good, bad or indifferent.

After all –  my competition is all that I needed to stand out from to have success in business – wasn’t it.

Technically correct. Fundamentally wrong.

I soon worked out that the people I was “comparing” myself to (without wanting to sound disrespectful) were people who were 10-20 years older than me and had been in business 10-20 years longer, but we’re still no further advanced than me.

At this point, I smelt a rat! I was getting my ideas from the wrong people.

It didn’t take me long but it was time to draw on the philosophy of one of my first business mentors when I was in my early 20’s – Steve McKnight from my property investing days.

“Success comes from doing things differently” – he signed off all communication with.

As I was starting my first ‘online’ business I recalled that philosophy and it completely switched my line of thinking.

I then looked at my competition and made a conscious decision to do the opposite of what they were doing.

I became so comfortable with trying to do the opposite to them that I actually started to come up with my own ideas on how to grow and market my businesses online (and offline too) that were revolutionary – and did in fact – HELP ME STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD.

Like most people – when it comes to things we don’t understand very well we like to bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away!

But I decided that on the topic of business marketing and online strategy I didn’t want to be like most people (success comes from doing things differently remember!).

So from that day on, my creative business brain was turned on forever, and I was a walking billboard for doing things differently.

Does that mean I was successful?

Not overnight – by any stretch!!

I made so many mistakes but that wasn’t the point. I was learning my craft and exploring the possibilities. I won some, lost some and drew some.

But with every win, I was moving forward at a speed that was unheard of.

Before I knew it, I was the owner of one of Australia’s most prolific film and photo studios.

We were employing people all over the country to fill the needs of our growing list of clients.

I even expanded offshore and won clients and employed staff and started other companies in 4 different countries.

How did I do it?

By and large, by killing off the traditional website – and building a ‘smart-site’.

(What is a smart-site? Read on!)

This gave me the ability to stand out and win unlimited numbers of clients – and essentially put all of my businesses in strong demand.

Human psychology is an amazing tool to explore – and believe it or not it’s actually quite simple when you really break it down – trouble is most people don’t know how to do that.

 

When selling online, there are a few things the human psychology loves:

1. To be managed through the online journey as if there was a real human helping (because we don’t want to feel lost or overwhelmed).

2. To be presented with a product or service that matches exactly what we need (not a product or service that only fits a percentage of our expectation).

3. To have a visual experience with great design, nice colours and lots of quality pictures & video (our brains have been trained to gravitate to things that look good – subconsciously).

Q. So how do you achieve all of this through an online experience?

A. Kill the website and build a ‘smart-site’ to begin with!

Principals, teachers and school administrators are as guilty as most industry salespeople for hitting their prospects (in your case future families) with so much jargon and ‘technobabble’ that the eyes of the person at the other end are literally glazing over.

Here are 3 things I would do to sell better online:

1. Pull 95% of your website content down.

It’s not relevant to the people you are talking to (future families).

I think we are all of the understanding that the primary goal of a website is to sell your product or service to people that you don’t yet know.

I am aware that it can be used as a communication tool on occasions for your current families but I’m sure you would agree that there are far better ways to communicate with those current families.

Having term calendars, policies, newsletters and really long slabs of information about your curriculum does nothing more but overwhelm your prospects and make their decision on which school to choose near impossible.

At the very minimum, take everything down off your homepage that does not apply to future families and just give small amounts of information with clear call to action on how to get in contact with you to book a tour (or whatever your goal is).

2. Talk their language!

After interviewing literally hundreds of parents on what they want for their children – the number one wish for a parent is that their child will be happy.

Why is it then that schools lead their online sales (and often their offline sales) with anything other than that?

Sell the happiness, the positive environment, the warmth and nurture and by doing that the academic success you will inevitably achieve will come through that message (in a more subtle way).

Most parents want the best for their child academically – but at the same time, most will not compromise their child’s happiness in the process.

If we agree on that – lead with the biggest ticket item on their list – a safe and happy environment (and the learning & engagement can be sold through that in the background).

3. Content Is King

Content is one of the most valuable assets of any business in today’s market.

And by content I’m not talking about long winded write up’s of grade 5/6 camp or the in’s and out’s of your literacy program.

I’m talking primarily about video.

Did you know:

  • online video accounts for about 74% of all online traffic
  • 55% of people watch videos online every day
  • including video on your website sales pages can increase conversions by 80%
  • 4x as many customers would rather watch a video than read about it

We live on our devices and engage with brands that we like and trust through the content those brands produce – all day every day.

The saying ‘Content Is King’ is not made up. It’s real. It’s what sells brands – today!

Your target market (27-50 year olds) is no different! They live on their smartphones and consume content – every day.

If you are not leading with a content-rich website with loads of (high quality) video you are literally missing out. Big time!

Until we recently came along and started producing video content rich websites for schools  – you have been let off the hook.

But that has changed – for good! Nearly 100% of schools we speak about what we do invest in our system – because frankly, it’s impossible to say no to it.

School leaders are recognising it’s vital to selling their school.  And as you are aware, enrolments are a lucrative business.

Conclusion:

There is a brand new world of online communication available right now for schools.

The expectation of any online experience is that is will be intuitive, engaging and immersive. Schools now have a challenge – and two options:

1. Move with the times and build intuitive websites with rich content distributed on auto-pilot

or

2. Sit back and watch their competitors move with the times and build intuitive websites with rich content distributed on auto-pilot (and pay a hefty price down the track for not acting)

——–

The schools that move now are at a significant advantage to those that don’t.

Getting a head start on this process will pay some nice dividends in terms of extra enrolments almost immediately.

But content is similar to a savings account.

You continually want to be building and storing more of it because it holds value in today’s business world.

Like the old saying: cash is king, it’s true that content is also king!

And another oldie – “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time to plant a tree is now”

Download your customised one-page strategy to building the ultimate online experience for your future and current families and plant your figurative tree today!

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Richard Mills is a former primary school teacher and now the leading Digital Marketing Specialist for Education in Australia. He has started and grown 6 companies – all online in only 7 years spanning 4 countries. He now runs Digital Schools – a world first product designed to help schools better sell their story through clever websites, video production, animation, storytelling, sales automation, 3D virtual tours and a deep insight into effective sales and marketing for the education sector.