The third of nine blogs in serial format, adapted from Mike Connor’s Cornerstone Keynote Address at the Association of Independent Schools Admission Professionals’ (AISAP) Annual Institute in Nashville, July 8, 2013. Connor addressed 200 admission professionals from around the world. Connor's topic: Becoming Your Own Brand and Value Proposition!
If you want to create and communicate value for your school, if you want families to overcome the tuition and fees sticker shock, if you want them to set aside cost, you need to be able to administer the smelling salts of your value proposition.
That means you have to prove and objectively demonstrate value in four dimensions:
1. Return on Investment – ROI. Outcomes -- not just the noble intentions of your mission and your philosophy of education.
2. Transformational teaching and learning. Families enroll based on evidence that your teaching methods are cutting-edge and that your teachers’ skills are far beyond competent. They expect and are paying for not only individualized but transformational teaching and learning.
3. Constituent orientation. Always thinking of the personal needs of those you serve. The student’s needs come first. And the family needs the salve of customer convenience, connection, and community to justify the high cost. In business, it’s called knowing and soothing their pain points.
4. Cost-consciousness and stewardship. Showing how your budget is the quantification of your mission statement. Showing how you are wisely investing and holding down expenses. Directing funding in ways that respects the concerns of those we seek to serve, so that they will continue to invest in our mission.
If you continually hit on all four of these cylinders — these 4 dimensions — you literally drive value.
Too often, however, we passively rely on hackneyed clichés, promises, or taglines: “Excellence in education,” “Educating the whole child,” “Nurturing yet challenging…”
…Or some such nonsense that no one really believes about you, because frankly, my dear, they don’t care what you think of yourself.
They don’t care how great you think your school is. Look at your own taglines. Do they really differentiate you from other options?
So what do these discerning consumers care about? Simple. “What’s in it for me and my child?”
You must offer measurable evidence of value according to how they define it and how you define it. If you fail to actively and continually reinforce and validate value, cost will decide. Every time.
If objectively proven value isn’t offered, they will default to the cheapest alternative that has perceived equal value.
So let’s unpack these 4 dimensions, and talk about how you might apply them personally and professionally to advance your school and your career.
Next: The First Dimension of Value: Return on Investment