I spend so much time working in schools and hearing first hand the sales pitches that are used to sell to new parents.

And because of that I end up doing quite a bit of work coaching principals and assistant principals through the process of undoing some ineffective ‘sales’ habits.

I’m certainly not referring to any sinister goings-on.

I’ve never come across a school leader who has dishonest or bad intentions.

I’m talking about the strategy and structure of the pitch/presentation they use – be it a school tour, open day or info evening.

Now I have already touched on a secret weapon in another post – the emotional connection that needs to be made during a presentation – which is another vital ingredient in good sales.

But in this article we are going to look at another cornerstone of strong sales pitches for schools.

The “One-Thing”.

What is the “One-Thing”?

I learned about the “one-thingfrom Russell Brunson – one of the forerunners in online digital marketing.

He wrote in one of this books of a fellow named Perry Belcher, who is another pioneer in sales and marketing.

One day Perry decided to do a huge study and investigated all of his sales offers and presentations over the previous 10 year period.

He looked at the conversion rates of those offers and the structure of the offers.

He concluded that if he was trying to make his prospective clients believe more than “one-thing” in a particular offer his conversion rates dropped by half!

His advice for marketers and salespeople was to look at the number of things your prospects have to believe in order to buy. If it’s more than one-thing then the presentation needs re-structuring.

After reading this I went back and looked at some of the offers I was making for my various businesses and re-worked them very quickly.

When I launched the Digital Schools Enrolment Boosting Strategy I had to really examine and study the “one-thing” that I needed to get the schools to understand and believe.

It took some time but here is the title of my original presentation:

“How to grow your school enrolments (and even save them from going backwards) with a smart-site (as opposed to a website) WITHOUT having to write, create or do any extra work yourself”

If I could help principals believe this then they would have no other option to sign onto my system.

This “one-thing” that I came up with and so passionately and genuinely believed in (because it’s true – we have evidence!) helps us sign almost 100% of schools that we meet with to our platform.  That’s right – nearly 100% take up rate on our product.

Notice that my “one-thing” philosophy didn’t go into all the other details that I could have, such as:

  • the system is automated meaning it will save you and your school tons of time in the process
  • the system will end up being a positive cashflow investment for the school (effectively meaning you will be getting paid to have it)
  • we use cutting-edge digital marketing software that takes years to master
  • we bring a film crew to the school for the day and capture the true essence of what you do and chop the footage up into 40+ different videos
  • we build content and distribute it so intelligently on auto-pilot to prospective families so that it feels like a real person is doing it every step of the way
  • we build similar platforms for organisations as big as the AFL which proves we know what we are doing
  • and yada yada yada

Now that doesn’t mean we don’t touch on some of those other points in the presentation – but we would only do if they supported the “one-thing”  and we certainly don’t lead with it. It comes well into the presentation.

The idea for the “one-thing” is to give you absolute clarity as to what it is you are trying to sell.

It sets a strong marker to direct your sales presentation and it helps you avoid getting lost in irrelevant detail during your presentation.

When you are selling your school you have to really decide what the “one-thing” you have to get these prospective families to believe in that will knock down all their other objections they may already have about you.

The “one-thing” might be different for many schools – there is no right or wrong on this.

Skill comes into play though – because it takes a lot of experience and understanding to master this process.

You have to understand your target families so well and then craft a message that resonates with them.

So what is an example “one-thing” for schools?

I’ve had my opinion in another post on what I think the one-thing is that will make parents enrol instantly – “happy children” but it’s really up the school to decide on this for themselves.

So here are some “one-thing” I have heard when touring schools:

  • student focused staff
  • tight-knit community
  • hard working staff
  • open door policies
  • strong curriculum results
  • student wellbeing focussed school
  • high level of communication between school and home
  • whole school consistency of curriculum
  • safe and spacious grounds
  • beautiful natural environment
  • amazing facilities for learning
  • small class sizes
  • strong community relationships
  • knowledgeable and friendly office staff
  • strong and stable leadership
  • balance of staff; gender, age, experience

Something I find interesting is that when asking schools what they think their top few strengths are that they want to focus on for their new enrolment smart-site, a lot of them have trouble to narrowing it down to just a few.

In fact – sometimes I ask for 5 and I get 20 back!

Now, this is admirable that they have so many strengths.

But it worries me from a sales and marketing standpoint. Are they trying to sell 20 benefits on a school tour?

I hope not!

But coming back to proven sales strategy, simplification of the presentation is vital.

Too many “things” leads to complication + overwhelm.

Remember: Complication + Overwhelm + Too Many Things = No Sale.

That is why when doing sales everything leads back to “one-thing” – so the message can be kept simple.

So your task is to work out your “one-thing” and everything you talk about as part of your presentation needs to support your “one-thing”.

If I were a school principal, my sales presentation would be themed around this “one-thing”:

“Enroling your child at [My School Name] will give your child the very best foundation for a life of sustained happiness and success. We achieve this through our brilliantly and thoughtfully crafted programs that nurture the social, emotional and academic success of each and every individual child that comes into our school”

(Note: I would not necessarily be writing this anywhere for families to see! This is just for my reference)

A life of sustained happiness is my “one-thing” if I had to choose one to sell a school.

It was also my big ticket item when I was teaching in the classroom.

I knew that stressed kids, unhappy kids or disengaged kids would never be focused on what I taught – and therefore my lessons would be a waste of time.

Happiness also seems to be the number one ticket item for the parents too.

That’s the other reason I would choose it, because I know it sells.

It also happens to be one of my big areas of passion and i have unlimited amounts of energy and enthusiasm for the subject. And I know that passion and energy sells. Every time.

I would then go on to talk about 3-4 strengths of the school that point back toward ensuring every individual child is happy (my “one-thing”).

Here is an example:

One-Thing: Happiness

Strength 1: Strong academic results

How to pitch this:

At [my school], our results speak for themselves. We are in the top 5% of the state for numeracy and literacy. That is owed to our dedicated teachers who run an innovative curriculum and teaching practice. We know that driving strong academic growth gives our students an incredibly strong sense of accomplishment and achievement – which in turn will give continue to strengthen that overall happiness and peace of mind that we strive to empower every child with. We focus on nurturing the children first – and teaching them second. And before too long, because we took the time to set this strong foundation both are happening simultaneously – which in our opinion is an unstoppable force.

Whatever your “one-thing” is – and there is no right or wrong, it’s really about and knowing your target market (your families) and what makes the tick.

Once you work it out – give them that!

And don’t forget – your one thing should be something that oozes out of you with passion.

Passion and energy sells like nothing else. So pick a “one-thing” that really gets you excited!


Going through the exercise of picking out your “one-thing” and the supporting arguments to back that up has the added benefit of giving you direction and clarity all at the same time.

You might want to experiment with a few variations of your pitch, and see which one is working best.

Don’t forget to keep it simple. You don’t want to sell the ‘101’ reasons why you are the best school in the area.

You need to sell ONE reason – and have 3-4 points to solidly back that one reason up.


If you would like a free strategy session for your digital marketing and sales or even have us help you craft the “One-Thing” for your school, contact Richard @ Digital Schools today and he can help get you moving in the right direction.