Brands and businesses find value (and typically increased sales) in genuine promotion through a loyal fan base who boast of the amazing products and services they offer. Studies show that people are 90% more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend. Additionally, 88% of consumers placed the highest level of trust in word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know. Brand ambassadors allow businesses to connect with their community in a way they couldn’t before and school districts are taking note, with some even adding ambassador programs to their marketing strategy. After all, who knows what it is like to be a parent in your school district better than a parent in your school district?
Durham Public Schools has implemented a district-wide initiative enlisting the help of families in their community through a parent ambassador program. “Many years ago when I was coming up, you just went to the school that you were assigned to based upon where you lived. Our families now have so much choice and there are so many more options that are available to them in regards to how they educate their students.” remarked Sheena Cooper, as she was discussing marketing and branding for school districts. Now, more than ever, district communicators need to “market” their district to prospective families while fostering relationships with current families. Durham uses the parent ambassador program as a “megaphone for the district”, amplifying the connection and family engagement throughout the community. The success in a program like this comes from not only truly understanding your organization, but understanding that parents communicating with other parents resonates differently, and often better, than any communication provided from a district employee alone. “Let’s be completely honest, everyone expects you to have good things to say about the school district because you work for the school district.”, said Sheena as she underscored the value of this program and the value this organic word-of-mouth marketing brings to her district.
Things to Consider When Implementing a Parent Ambassador Program
When looking to use a parent ambassador program in your marketing strategy, Sheena recommends first understanding who you are as a brand and who you want to communicate with. If you do not know those two things, communications to and from the ambassadors could prove to be challenging. You want to ensure that your story is told accurately and organically. In order to do that, you may want to look at things like what makes your school or district unique? To help your pitch to ambassadors in the program, you will also want to establish key terms you use to describe your school and 3 to 5 pride points for your district.
Additionally, do not lose sight of the ambassadors you already have in your corner, like district employees or local realtors. Imagine a family is new to the area and when they meet with a local realtor, they receive a welcome packet from your district, extending to them your excitement they are here.
Regardless of who you decide to recruit to tell your brand story, remember that “marketing is about relationships.” From the relationships you have with your community, to the ones they have with each other — both should positively impact your district and help you achieve your goals.