You’re building a really cool school or education service. But without the ability to connect with families, your idea will stay an idea. To bring it to life, you need students. To get students, you need families.
Identifying your ideal family.
Families look for education options for a variety of reasons. Identifying the reasons a family would be drawn to your school or education service is the first step to finding these ideal customers.
What are the reasons families seek education options? Jot down the following group(s) that would be a good fit for your school or education service.
- Unique needs. Whether their child has a diagnosed disability and an IEP or just doesn’t learn well sitting at a desk for 5 hours a day (who can blame them), many parents are looking for out of the box settings that support a unique learning style. That may mean more one-on-one attention, tutoring, outdoor learning, time with a learning therapist, or a combination. If you are building a school or education service that is out of the box and adapts to unique learning styles, these families will love you!
- Academic rigor. For parents who value academics or have a high achieving child, rigorous options are attractive. If your school or education service puts a premium on tough academics and high caliber outcomes, and caters to the gifted student, these high-achievers will be your ideal audience.
- Freedom. Many parents want the freedom to create a customized education. They don’t want “traditional” anything. They don’t want rigidness. They are using school options to put together a patchwork of cool educational experiences and environments where their child can learn in freedom and explore what interests them. If you are putting together a non-traditional school (think self-guided miroschool or co-op) or a unique curriculum, online learning resources, or anything that would fit well in a hybrid, customized education, families that value freedom are your people. Families homeschooling on an ESA often fit this profile.
- Faith and values. Some families look for education options because they don’t feel their current school is reinforcing their faith or their values. If you’re building a school or education that is faith-based or focused on character, values, and personal development, you want to look for families who value the same principles.
- D or F school district. For families who live in a failing school district, options become a necessity. They are looking for a quality education for their child. If this is the primary reason they’re leaving their current school, they will likely be looking for a quality traditional option like a brick and mortar school or an online academy. If that’s you, these families are a prime audience. (Find Arizona school report cards here!)
What grades does your school or education service cater to? Pinning this down will help you determine where to find these ideal families!
- Elementary only
- Middle School only
- High School only
How to find your ideal family.
Now that you have a sense who you’re targeting, think about where you’d be likely to find them!
- Events! Look for events your ideal family would attend. If you are focused on K-5 students, you should rent a table when the Railroad Park hosts an event! If you’re after students in D or F rated districts, find local community events in those areas to have a presence. Looking for faith and values driven families? Look for church and other religious events that allow outside vendors. Get creative! The options are endless and this is a relatively inexpensive, high-touch way to advertise. Get yourself a table, a nice tablecloth, some printed pamphlets and maybe a banner. Add some balloons and you’re in business! Some events may have a table rental fee.
- Online. Online advertising can be a low-budget way to get some eyeballs (although you can also go all out here, if you have the budget!). For more on social media paid and organic advertising, go to our Success in Social Media resource. But once you’ve decided which platforms you’ll advertise on, you’ll want to choose the audience parameters that would bring you your ideal family. Some platforms will allow you to choose families with children in the home as a parameter. You can also set the target age of the user to match the likely age of parents with children (recommend ages 25-45). Most platforms will let you set interest areas like special needs, early childhood education, religion, etc. Finally, you can “geo-fence” a certain area so that people who go to that area receive your ads. This is ideal for “geo-fencing” events where your ideal family will be, failing schools, churches, etc.
- Mail. This is an expensive, but timeless option, ideal if you’re targeting based on geography. Ideally, you’ll want to find a mail partner that can access consumer lists, print (and sometimes even design) your mail piece, and drop them. Depending on the size of your audience and mailpiece, this can cost between $5,000-$20,000.
Now, for out-of-state innovators launching in Arizona, let’s help you speak AZ better!
How to talk to Arizona families.
Arizonans have a lot of state pride. They want schools and education services that are made for Arizona, not ones that look copy-pasted from somewhere else. If you’re starting an Arizona-branch of a national brand, consider customizing the language and visuals to look like they belong here!
Individuality and Freedom
Arizona is a state marked by rugged individuality and a love of freedom, born from its old west roots. Focusing on choice, empowerment, customization, and opportunity are key words for families here!
Bilingual is a bonus!
Arizona is home to a large Spanish-speaking population. And many in the immigrant community find themselves in poorly rated school districts. Options are needed in these communities! If you speak Spanish or have the opportunity to offer Spanish-speaking services, resources, or curriculum, that will open up another important market of Arizona families you can speak to.
A word about audience focus.
It’s tempting to try to fit any audience to your school or education service. But at the end of the day, focusing on two many audiences will take you away from the low-hanging fruit – the families most likely to be naturally interested in what you offer. Resist the temptation to attract everyone and focus on the families you’re tailor made for. It will be more effective and everyone will be happier in the long run!