With all the recent talk about virtual admissions tools, it’s natural to think about cutting out your printed viewbook. It takes a lot of time to create a good one, even if you hire a good creative team. And it costs a lot to print and mail it.
We live in a digital age. And in a time when budgets are, understandably, being drastically shifted to cover pandemic response, isn’t cutting out this printed publication the responsible thing to do?
We say no. Here’s why: With many people staying at home, and unable to experience your campus, printed pieces that arrive via mail have greater impact (and if done well, wow-factor) than they did before. They’re tactile, and people have more time than ever to look at them. And as we’ve written about before, one of the biggest mistakes schools make is putting everything online, and nothing on the nightstand.
Your viewbook should be a warm welcome to families, providing a visceral message about what makes your school special, and what it feels like to be part of your community. And if you don’t mail one home you’re just hoping families remember to check you out online. Hope is not a strategy, so here are five reasons investing in a great viewbook is the right thing to do.
Rather than lists of features, electives, and history, your viewbook should be a moving narrative that makes your school stand out from every other school families are considering. If you rely solely on your website, you may miss the chance to help families take away the big idea that makes your school truly unique. So take care that your viewbook puts a stake in the ground about what you want parents to know about you, making it easy for them to fall in love. Without that, you’re just another generic school on their list.
Mailing a viewbook to prospective families – and enclosing a personal note – shows them they’re on your radar. Whether they request one or not, you taking time to share a compelling viewbook reinforces for families that they count. This is especially important in markets where the competition is fierce or where families are seriously considering public schools. The customization and personalization of a package arriving for them at the right time is like extending a warm handshake, and can make your school stand out from the crowd. And it’s also a sign of humility, demonstrating you understand that the admission process is a two-way audition, rather than just them having to prove their fit to you.
The viewbook arrives like a welcome visitor, warmly greeting families who will visit it again and again because it’s in their home. And, since so much of what you ask of families is on the school’s timeline (think: application deadlines, tours and interviews) a veiwbook they can study at the time of their own choosing is a respectful gift.
Effective use of photography, graphics, and powerful language will ensure your viewbook helps families feel what being part of your community is like, in a way that a smartphone or computer screen cannot. And since a great viewbook zeros in on big, exciting ideas, rather than facts, figures, and lists, it offers a personal experience that creates an emotional connection with families.
As the effect of the pandemic causes families to look more closely than ever at the independent school investment, this is an investment you can’t afford not to make. The cost of creating and mailing a stand-out viewbook will pay for itself with a fraction of tuition of just one new student who enrolls in your school. And the likelihood of your viewbook working its magic on every family who receives it? Priceless.
Related Content: FREE GUIDE: Are Your School’s Messages Right for Right Now?
Jennie Winton is a Founding Partner of Mission Minded, a 25-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding nonprofit organizations, and a one-on-one leadership coach.
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