Safety and preparedness on campus are central to creating a conducive learning environment. Parents want to know they are sending their kids to an environment where student safety is a priority and students want to feel safe and nurtured on campus.
Disruptions of the past couple of years have highlighted higher education institutions’ ability to pivot in a crisis. Communication with prospective students and families about how your institution handles problems can be a strong selling point for your school.
Subtle or Blatant? How to “Sell” Safety
We all want a safe environment for education. Yet, every time there is a school shooting or another campus crisis in the news, the emotional response of students, parents, and educators is fear and anxiety. Prospects may not directly ask about safety and emergency planning but finding ways to communicate your campus’ features can be a part of talking about campus life and culture.
It’s well-known that fear-based marketing has some of the highest conversion rates. In traditional advertising, presenting a problem that your product solves converts sales more effectively than positive messaging. However, marketing to prospective students is usually about aspirations and dreams—the positive impact school can have on their lives. Schools are not in the habit of telling prospects that they may have a bad outcome if they don’t enroll.
Stirring up fear in a prospect’s mind would be counterproductive, yet with fears ever-present in our modern world, it makes sense to present the solution to the existing problem. Fear can be an underlying reason for hesitation to apply or enroll and selling the safety culture of the school experience can answer those fears without emphasizing the dangers.
Overall marketing strategy can highlight the campus attitudes towards safety, a culture of respect among community members, and the school’s efficient use of communication in a crisis. During the Covid pandemic, with high levels of uncertainty about in-person learning and disease transmission, straightforward and honest communication has been the most effective way for school administrations to deal with students, families, and staff. While we want education to go back to normal, some prospects will need further information to feel comfortable choosing your institution. Openness about how the pandemic disruptions have inspired your institution to organize emergency planning, beef up contingency plans, increase online safety, and communicate well with students can help you respond to queries.
The present moment makes us all think more about safety, and we can use this as an opportunity to make sure our planning and transparency around crises and emergencies are in order. While the communications team may be central to emergency planning, the admissions and recruitment team are also a part of that effort. Using the positives of your safety culture can help you indicate to new students that they can count on your institution to be there in any future crisis that may arise.
Contact us today to find out how we can elevate your enrollment marketing strategy.