The BEST Promotional Events for Schools


Two of the most valuable attributes someone can have are knowledge and experience. Knowledge builds an intellectual framework and accumulates data, but experience forges conviction. Experience solidifies that knowledge and filters it through reality. The greatest teachers give knowledge and provide experiences that move that knowledge beyond theory and into confidence.

Most of content marketing is about knowledge, ideas, and insight, but it isn’t limited to articles and video. The step beyond giving information is to invite your community to an experience. These are not new parents’ meetings or school tours but events hosted for the value they create for families and students. The goal of content marketing is to build relationships by creating value, so the aim of these events is to meet new families and let them see how your school’s values express themselves.

Decide on a Value

Show what is important to your school by choosing one of its core values, then build an event around it. When families come and partake in this event, they are given the opportunity to understand your school all the more. They benefit from your conviction and are clued into what it may be like if their child attended and their family joined your tribe. In some ways, this is a thirty day free trial for education; students receive the use of a partial product to decide if they want to go farther. This is why your events must be intentionally rooted in who you are as a school.

There are typically four core values that schools operate under, even if they’re communicated differently from place to place: academics, faith, family, and athletics. Each of these serve as entire realms for promotional event ideas, so let’s explore a few of them.

  • Academics – Host regular group tutoring sessions, classes on study skills, college representatives/fairs, supplemental lectures or trips based on a specific area of common curricula
  • Faith – Spiritual life or apologetics camp, Bible study classes, hands-on faith experiences
  • Family – Family values conferences, date nights, marriage and parenting seminars, multigenerational games and activities
  • Athletics – Nutrition classes, sports camps, summer training programs

Each of these have the ability to draw new families to your school and to shape their perception of it. Instead of seeing your school as distant and irrelevant, these parents and students now have a relationship with it and the people there.

Involve Your Team

Almost as important as having your values on display is to have your people there to meet visiting families. There are a few reasons why values are more important than individuals: they’re transcendent and they are the culture. Faculty members move or find new jobs, but well-developed and ingrained values can survive the length of an organization.

I’ve heard it said that people don’t leave ministries, the leave leaders, and there is some truth to that, but only when the culture of the organization hasn’t been fully developed. If the faculty and board have been shaped by specific values, are committed to what they stand for, and have been trained to operate well within it, a headmaster could step out without the school missing a beat. Ultimately, this is actually the job of the headmaster, so there’s that. People are essential to the equation, not just as cultural vehicles but as individuals.

One of my favorite parts of serving at a classical school was the camaraderie of like-minded, intelligent, and loving teachers. They are still some of the best people I’ve ever met, and they’ve left a lasting impression on me. The same could be true of potential families. Albeit, they won’t get to know them the same way a fellow teacher does, but they can know the warmth and care that those teachers have toward their educational community.

People are essential to the equation, not just as cultural vehicles but as individuals. 

Trusting your team to be there on the front lines, greeting, teaching, moderating, whatever needs to be done, exposes the parents to world class teachers and provides the opportunity for even your teachers to more deeply identify with the school’s culture. Involve your team.

Some Broader Perspective

Leveraging them for the benefit of the audience and to build relationships may be a more novel aim, but promotional events are nothing new. The novelty might be that they are intrinsically face-to-face; they make your school physical and tangible, not just another name and post on a social feed somewhere. An event is actual human interaction – that’s novel! So unique that in 2017, 95% of marketers said events gave them an all-together unique opportunity just because the digital aspects of marketing have become so prominent.1

And because of its prominence, social media marketing can’t be ignored. Physical events balance an overwhelmingly digital field, but no one would show up if it wasn’t for having found out about it through digital means. (I’m at WorkHub Tyler at this moment because of a Facebook ad for their open house. I’m a digital success story because I now have a paid membership!) Almost all of the promotion leading up to an event can be done on Facebook and Instagram. Seven in ten Americans use Facebook, and 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35.2 Targeting specific age brackets within x number of miles from your school can garner quite a bit of attention.

Social does more than just prepare for an event but serves as a de facto marketing tool during it because 34% of people will make a post about the event they’re attending. This number could actually be much higher given the parents of your youngest students will be digital natives, i.e. Millennials. Inviting them to post with a given hashtags increases that likelihood and provides a substantial amount of social proof for your event. If your school shares pictures from the event, that’s expected, but user-generated content from families will get more attention. Receiving more general attention is one thing, but it goes a step farther than that, because they’re not just sharing that picture to the people that have liked your page – they’re sharing it to their own friends and followers. The average Facebook user has 338, so that could mean thousands more people see your event than are actually there.3

Private schools are weird. Or, they can at least be seen that way by most people. Only 10% of all US students attend a private school, and only 78% of those attend a religiously-based school.4 Some schools have a reputation to overcome, whether that stodgy, elitist, or irrelevant, and events can help alter those perceptions (or reinforce them, so don’t be weird). In fact, 84% of people say they have a more positive view of organizations after attending an event.5 These could go very well for your school, especially if there is suspicion aimed at your school.

Host One!

Events need to revolve around your core values as an institution. Building them from a deeply held ideal and making them immensely beneficial to the audience is the best way to make a connection with the people in your community. These will often revolve around academics, faith, family, and athletics, and the benefits are magnified when faculty, staff, and digital media are involved in meaningful ways.



Great Ideas for Marketing Your School

Great Ideas@0.5x

One obstacle is common among authors, and it’s the reason so many are would-be authors. It drains creativity and stops the next chapter, the next page, the next word from being written. It clutches the writer’s creativity, and seizes it with no due process and no speedy trial. Knowledge of grammar and subjunctives, subjects and predicates, are left in tact, but the locomotive is gone – and these cars are left in the station – because they don’t have a great idea.

Our last article highlighted the opportunities that content marketing presents, but you might find yourself with writer’s block. There are several elements to the content process: ideation, scheduling, writing, and publishing. The two most difficult steps in content marketing are ideation and execution, finding ideas and writing regularly. Your ideas are the most valuable part of the process; writing weekly about nothing is pointless; publishing and promoting pointless articles is even more futile; and let’s not talk about how one should feel if they schedule out months of useless content.

Underdeveloped ideas create poor content. Poor content does the opposite of what that even decent content can achieve. Instead of boosting your school’s reputation and creating leads, shoddy content damages the brand and reenforces the notion that your school is not for that family.

Your takeaway so far should be this: focus on creating great ideas.

What is a Great Idea?

A great idea is one that connects with your audience, adds value to their lives, and extends your school’s brand.

Anything that your school publishes needs to have a particular audience in mind. This will not only determine how you write an article, where you will publish it, but also what your topic will be. A piece about the use of the Greek article in the New Testament will not grip and engage a mother of four trying to help two of them with math homework, but a quick guide through teaching 2nd graders long division will. Knowing the needs and wants of your audience – even if they don’t – will make your content more effective and begin to build your community.

Implicit in the point above is that content must contribute value. Value is measured in what the audience has now that it didn’t have before. We primarily focus on people’s progress. Progress means that the audience now has the tools or knowledge to move from A to B; they are able to move the ball forward, having learned a new skill or gained new information. Many photographers and cinematographers have been able to make Youtube film-making a lucrative, full-time project because they are consistently creating worthwhile tutorials for their audiences. Content that is meaningful will consistently bring people to your page and make your school an authority in the community.

Focusing on great ideas means focusing on a specific type of ideas, those that are related to your school and its culture. The school’s core values should serve as parameters for the type and tone of the content that is produced. Literature, health, history, and theology are all viable topics, but personal rants or political hit pieces are probably not aligned with your school’s culture.

Now that we know what a great idea is, where do we find them?

Where to Find Great Ideas

The first farm for great ideas is what you know. Not many sensible people would stand up in front of an audience and deliver a speech on a field they know nothing about. Write in areas of your experience and knowledge. This not only gives you credibility, but it also helps the audience see your passion. It is much easier to build loyalty and trust in an audience when you show that you are dedicated and enthusiastic about the topic.

Your school’s faculty and staff make up the second source of great ideas. Instead of farming ideas out of yourself alone, include the people that directly serve families with whom you want to connect. Their constant interaction with families gives them insight into what needs families are experiencing. Just after parent teacher conferences would be a great time to prompt teachers to record anything significant that might not be isolated to an individual family.

It is much easier to build loyalty and trust in an audience when you show that you are dedicated and enthusiastic about the topic.

A third source is new experiences. Draw from existing experience, yes, but also create a culture where you and your team are constantly on the look out for potential writing prompts. Comedians draw their best material from daily life, and content creators should do the same. This adds a level of authenticity, guarantees an element of story, and helps the audience see more richness in their own day-to-day lives.

The final source is a professional content marketer. The ideal content marketer will act as both a strategist and writer, helping brainstorm ideas and executing the content plan. Bringing in a professional can simplify the process by allowing all staff and faculty to continue focusing on their primary responsibilities and ensures that the articles are produced as scheduled.

Great ideas can come from many places. The task at hand is finding them and finding the people who find them. But what happens when they do?

Your School’s Future

Great ideas create motion. These seemingly small and incremental articles and publications are signs of vision becoming reality. They are the little pieces of snow that are added to the snowball as it rolls down the hill. The Disney Parks blog tells this story about Art Linkletter:

I’ll always remember something he said during our 50th when he shared a story about a man at Disneyland Park who asked him, “Isn’t it a shame that Walt Disney couldn’t be here to see this?” and Art said, “He did see this, that’s why it’s here.”

Content marketing is about being relevant, adding value, and extending the brand, but it does much more. It creates and cultivates life. As stories are told and inspiration given, these words become the nails and boards of the future. One day, the house will be built; the school will be more of what it is meant to be. The families will have a greater appreciation for what it is that they’re a part of, and more of the community will be looking in with wonder and curiosity.

FREE Attention for Your School


What are all digital marketing tools trying to tell you? They are measuring how much attention your organization is getting. Attention comes in the form of likes, clicks, watches, follows, etc. People are giving time and mental focus willingly and enthusiastically.

Why are people paying attention?

Because organizations – like businesses, schools, churches and even individuals – are creating valuable content, audiences are paying attention. Organizations are finding out what their audiences need and giving away knowledge and expertise in those areas. They’re writing articles, posting on social media, and creating video that answer questions and enrich experiences.

The biggest shock isn’t that people want great content, it’s that organizations are giving away free work. A reader may have to forfeit an email address or answer a brief survey, but there isn’t a monetary exchange happening. Companies aren’t directly making money from the content they create.

So why are organizations doing it?

The internet has shifted the way marketing works. The traditional method was built on showing how your product or organization was better than others, then people would make a purchase decision in your favor. Now, the emphasis is on distinguishing yourself by creating value for potential customers and building relationships with them.

The way to become known, liked, and trusted in your community is to become a resource for it. Take the focus off how great your school is, how low your tuition is, how fantastic your sports teams are, and reframe the conversation around the audience. Engage them and show them how your expertise can add value to their lives, even if they don’t (and won’t) attend your school.

Now, the emphasis is on distinguishing yourself by creating value for potential customers and building relationships with them.

Two tasks stand before you: serving families practically and building relationships. Hosting events, teaching classes, and creating digital content are all ways that your school can win over the community that it’s in, and so the first objective is met. The second is more intangible – how do you create relationships as an organization?

The benefit here is that the first objective begins the process; families have to see that the values of the school match what’s important to them personally, and that the can help them be more faithful to those values. Once values are aligned, the families start to see themselves as part of the school’s community. This helps the school expand its reach and influence. The mission to partner with families is leading the way the whole time.

Though these activities are not explicitly self-referential, the school is still becoming known in the community. It is actually better coverage and more engaging interaction than traditional advertising. The goal shifts from people seeing how wonderful you are to the immediate benefit you’re creating for families, at no cost to them. A physical example is Discount Tire. They provide free tire rotations, fix flat tires for free, check tire pressure for free, and warranty any tire you purchase from them. The immediate benefit they offer – for free – is a large reason why many trust and like Discount Tire.

The content you produce can educate and prepare families who would have never considered any alternative to public school or even to homeschooling. Your content can become central to how couples in your community parent, to how parents educate, and to how families spend their time. You just have to create it.

Some Data

This may sound like marketing snake oil. It may seem like a big investment with no guaranteed return on investment, but that’s far from the truth. Content marketing has been shown in multiple studies to produce between three and six times the number of leads as compared to traditional methods. On top of that, small businesses with blogs develop over 120% more leads than those without a blog.1

Content marketing has been shown in multiple studies to produce between three and six times the number of leads as compared to traditional methods.

One of the most significant digital marketing indicators is SEO, search engine optimization. This essentially refers to the likeliness that your page will rank on the first page of a search for specific keywords. That likeliness is effected by word choice, length, frequency of posts, and several other factors, but site traffic is a major indicator. When families are reading articles, watching videos, and registering for events, they are helping your site achieve a higher rank.

The web pages that garner more traffic more frequently perform better. It’s a snowball effect: the more you have, the more you have. Static sites, those that don’t change or have new posts, tend to perform poorly because of this reality. Content marketing, however, can increase traffic to your website, designate it for certain keywords, and will show search engines that your page is living and active.

Content and Social Media

Content marketing works from both relational and technical standpoints, and though social media is one of the ways those relationships form, it’s worth addressing it here. The assumption that underlies the above section is that your content lives on your website, but that’s not the only place content can live.

Most organizations feel like they need to be on social media, either Facebook, Instragram, or Youtube, but have no idea how to feed their profiles and get followers. There are some technical aspects that need to be harnessed (promotions, hashtags, giveaways, etc.), but the driving force behind successful social media pages is content.

Your content strategy is the river, and social media platforms are the smaller streams coming off of it. Stepping into social networks without something to share is like coming to a potluck empty handed – no one will sing your praises. Likewise, bringing your favorite dish, shoving it in people’s faces, and patting yourself on the back for the greatest dish there won’t make any friends – even if it is the best.

Your content strategy is the river, and social media platforms are the smaller streams coming off of it.

One of the reasons content marketing works is because it is not self-referential. It’s completely different than traditional marketing in that way. If your favorite thing to talk about is you, then your social media accounts won’t be as effective as one that focuses on the audience.

How to Market Content-ly

Content marketing works because it is marketing that seeks first to give, not take and not praise itself. This is why we as a culture love it; we’ve become keenly aware when we’re being marketed to in commercials and are tired of trusting companies, then finding out they have shady business practices.

Here’s another perspective: audiences are more prone to trusting and liking organizations that create content, because (1) the content itself is valuable and beneficial to their lives, and (2) it shows the organization is willing to sacrifice to get their attention.

We said this is FREE attention because it doesn’t cost money to write articles, create a publishing calendar, or make graphics on a site like Canva, but it will take time and the most important resource, effort.

Here are a few directions to apply that vigor:

  1. Create evergreen content – Don’t focus exclusively on events happening right now or in the next two weeks. Write for the different stages of exposure. If your school is dedicated to the Great Conversation and to truth, goodness, and beauty, focus on those things as philosophical topics, then hone in on practical aspects of family life, like date ideas, group activities, and difficult parenting issues.
  2. Identify your audience – Who are you writing for, and what problems do they have? Knowing who your ideal audience is, typically parents committed to Christian education, who live in a certain place, with a certain number of kids, will help you brainstorm content specifically for them. This is especially helpful when you begin to think about why they would want to not attend your school; content marketing directed at objections can be powerful.
  3. Share on social media – Which will get more traffic, a restaurant by itself in the middle of nowhere, with no direct roads to it, or a restaurant inside a mall? If you only publish to your website, then a select few will see it; but if you post to your website and share it on social media, then your followers will see it and have the opportunity to share it with their followers.

Imagine this…

Think about your community; identify common struggles that families are dealing with, and ask yourself how your school’s resources and speak to those issues. Ask how your faculty and staff can help students overcome their hurdles. What would it look life if your team wrote an article a week to address those problems and hosted an event once a month for the community? How would your school and community be different if you did that for the next six months?

What would it look like if you didn’t?