By Susan Le, Senior Marketing Manager at Peachjar, who strives to help after school programs elevate their marketing strategy so they can reach families more effectively and continue to make a meaningful impact in the lives of children.
In addition to developing your program curriculum, coordinating events, and training and leading your staff, you may also be in charge of keeping your stakeholders informed about what’s happening at your organization. This includes your outreach to families about upcoming events and sessions, which is key to maximizing program participation. Your success relies on your organization’s ability to reach families effectively and share a compelling story that moves them to participate - whether that means volunteering, signing up for your program, or making a donation.
Here are a few recommendations to elevate your afterschool program’s brand this school year.
Develop a unique brand personality
Every after school organization has something that makes them special. Highlight what makes your program unique! Start by establishing a brand personality that represents your organization’s core values. Sprinkle bits of your personality throughout your website, emails, social media, and other marketing content. You can also personalize your communication to show that you care about each individual child’s needs and experiences. This will make your brand more personable and unique and will help strengthen your connection with families.
Communicate the impact of your program
What is your organization’s mission? How does your program enrich the lives of children? Share success stories on your website, social media, and other materials to show the impact that your program is making on students’ lives. Gather testimonials from happy program participants and parents and ask them to leave a review on your Yelp, Google or Facebook pages. Parents, especially Millennials, tend to search for online reviews before deciding to enroll their child in a program, so make sure they have a positive first impression of your program.
Form partnerships with local schools and organizations
Working with limited resources? Leverage your relationships with schools and like-minded organizations in your community to reach a wider audience. Forming partnerships with credible groups that families know and trust could really help elevate your brand and increase program awareness. Conduct on-site sessions at a school or join forces with another afterschool program to offer a unique program experience. You can also send school-approved communication directly to parents through their child’s school.
Provide a seamless online experience
Forget about paper registration forms. Today’s parents rely on technology to get things done. Make it easy for them to register for your program or donate by offering a simple online registration process and a user-friendly website that is easy to navigate. It should take no more than three minutes for them to complete their registration. Parents are busy and don’t have much time to spend on any one task. Make their hectic lives a bit easier and they’ll appreciate you that much more for it.
Optimize, optimize, optimize
No matter how successful your program gets, it’s always important to test and optimize your efforts. Perform A/B tests on your email content and subject lines to discover which messages resonate most with parents. Send a survey to parents to collect feedback about their experience and use this information to improve your program and marketing strategy.
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