This article first appeared in the September 15, 2017 edition of the Baltimore Business Journal.
For Baltimore area independent schools to continue to succeed, they will need to change the way they operate and market themselves to Millennial parents — a unique sector that represents a tidal wave of change for the independent school landscape. Communication with parents and prospective parents is always evolving to fit the current market. The difference here is that it may be the most sudden and monumental evolution schools have ever experienced.
The following are a few key priorities held by Millennials, which will require independent schools to take a new approach:
Values and mission alignment
Relying on your school’s longevity and tradition (a common messaging point for historic independent schools) will no longer be an effective marketing strategy. Millennials want to be part of something that makes a difference in the world.
To meaningfully engage with millennial parents, schools need to promote the mission and values of the school that align with those of Millennial parents, who look for meaning and purpose in everything.
Millennials grew up with the world at their fingertips. Headlines come at them from all corners of the globe as an alert on their smartphone. They will expect their children to have the same access and perspective.
Independent schools that do not already have some sort of international focus will want to address this. This could include study abroad programs, hosting foreign exchange students, adding an International Baccalaureate program or simply incorporating discussion of international current events into the curriculum.
Most vital to the success of independent schools will be establishing and maintaining engagement. Millennial parents want to be engaged and interwoven into the school community. They want to have a personal relationship with the school and share the education experience with their children.
Find ways to use their knowledge and skills to enhance field trips or after school clubs. It will also go a long way if you give them a forum to share their opinions with the school, and then empower them to be part of the solution.
If Baltimore area independent schools address these priorities, they will be able to capitalize on the influx of Millennials coming to the region and compete more effectively for new students.
Additionally, Millennials are arguably one of the most effective marketing machines ever seen — they are quick to share positive experiences and pursue experiences that their peers speak highly of. By effectively connecting with millennial parents, independent schools will be able to activate them as brand ambassadors and drive even more benefit to the school. Let the parents of the children you teach tell your story for you.