Education marketing is at its best when your brand’s messaging is inside of you and your student body. Check out these ideas on training student brand ambassadors.
As a private college, university, or independent school, you probably have a student activity or ministry your school is known for in the region. Activities like…
- Dance troupe
- Theatre or Drama Club
- Student ministry groups that travel from church to church
- Music teams
- Camp teams
Normally, all these activities are categorized as student life, not marketing.
However, if you can find ways to get your education brand’s messaging inside of your students, you can turn these moments into powerful high-touch marketing events.
Each one of these activities brings two important groups together: 1.) current students and 2.) prospective students.
And each of these activities is about building relationships with prospective students in an evening or over a week’s time.
That means each time your student group goes out, it’s a brilliant opportunity to market your school’s brand live through the interactions prospective students have with your current students.
These current students are what I call “student brand ambassadors.”
What is a student brand ambassador?
Brand ambassadors are people who have experienced your school in some significant way and are excited to share with others about their experience.
They’re not admissions officers. And they’re not enrollment marketers.
But they understand your education brand’s promise intuitively because they’re living it.
Sadly though, no matter how amazing of an experience a student has had with your education brand, it’s not guaranteed they’ll be a good student brand ambassador.
Most students have no problem talking about their good experience with your school – if they’re prompted with a question to do so.
But that rarely happens.
Good student brand ambassadors are trained to lead conversations into helpful dialogues about your private college or university.
Student brand ambassadors know if they wait for the right questions to be asked, they’ll never get the conversation about their school started.
These young people have your brand messaging inside of them, and they know how important their role is in developing relationships with potential new students.
From Paper to Heart
There are few things more persuasive than someone else’s testimony about an education brand.
In print marketing, you can leverage testimonials through quotes and case studies.
With digital marketing, you can add to quotes and case studies by using video testimonies.
Yet neither of these is as influential as a face-to-face testimony from one of your student brand ambassadors.
To leverage the effect of these personal conversations, you’ve got to get your brand messaging from paper to the heart of as many students as possible.
The goal is for every student involved in a traveling activity to be able to articulate the elevator pitch, live out your education brand, and establish relationships that will continue after they leave the event.
After the event, student brand ambassadors should use natural follow-up tools like social media (Instagram) to continue the relationship, as well as blogs that can be subscribed to for regular updates during the tour.
Your objective as an education marketer is to create a strategy that will help these student teams be as effective as possible at raising your school’s brand awareness.
So how do you train student brand ambassadors?
First, you need to market internally to your current student body.
Every student should be aware of the language you use to communicate your education brand’s value, promise, and authority.
- Make sure you have an internal messaging strategy that is clear and consistent.
- Get updated email lists of the current student body from your admissions department at least once a semester. Your email marketing lists should grow each semester in this way.
- Use environmental marketing to communicate your brand’s message to current students.
- Leverage any opportunity in general assemblies, chapel services, and live events to talk about your education brand to your current students from the stage.
- Encourage executive leadership to use brand language when addressing the student body.
Second, identify the students who’ll be in the traveling teams.
You’ll need to spend some time in person with these students, so it’s important to identify the students or groups who’ll need the training.
Of course, we want all of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to be brand ambassadors. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
The teams that will be interacting directly with prospective students is the best place to begin.
Lastly, train your student brand ambassadors.
Although the students signed up for personal reasons, your private college or university has an institutional interest in the event as well.
Schedule time with the faculty, staff, or student leaders of the group to spend time personally with the group to inform them of the importance of these events for your school’s enrollment efforts.
Begin your training with a brief explanation on the need to represent the school well so that more students will come and keep the alma mater alive.
Then, dive into your event marketing strategy for the events they’ll be a part of.
- What swag or promotional materials will you be giving away at the event?
- What hashtags will you use?
- What videos do you plan to record during the event?
Walk them through the brand messaging for your school.
- How do you articulate your brand value to prospective students?
- How do you bring up these important conversations with high school students?
- What questions should your student brand ambassadors be asking prospective students in order to spark conversations?
Show them how you will collect prospective students’ names and emails.
- Do your student brand ambassadors need to walk prospective students to a certain person to collect their info?
- Is there a website where prospective students should go?
- Is there a way to sign up by text?
The bottom line for training is to make sure your student brand ambassadors are clear on the…
- Language of promoting your school, and the
- Process of gathering prospective student information.
An Ongoing Process
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, training student brand ambassadors takes intentional effort.
But the personal interactions your ambassadors will have with these prospective students makes it all worthwhile.
I’m confident your current students will be happy to help. All they lack is a little practical coaching.
And even if your student brand ambassadors don’t do all that well on the first go around, continue training groups that go out on how to promote your education brand.
Over time, you’ll find that you’re actually developing a culture in your school where everyone considers themselves a brand ambassador.
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