Your school’s messaging is incredibly important when it comes to website design and development. Imagery, multimedia elements and other flashy features may get the attention of your website visitors, but it’s the content of your website’s message that will hook them in for more.
It’s important that your school’s messaging is centered around a small number of themes that are relevant to your school’s mission, and that are consistent throughout the school website. If a key value of your school is offering students open workspaces to encourage collaboration, make sure your content has consistent messaging to accurately portray this value.
In this article, we’ll go into detail about how to frame your school’s messaging on your website and tips to make sure it’s consistent with your school’s branding and mission.
Contents of a messaging framework
It’s difficult to build a messaging framework from scratch, especially if there isn’t an old framework for you to build upon or use as a reference. If you’re constructing your school’s online messaging from square one, there are ways to do this without pulling your hair out. A great starting point tip is to reference a few key elements that help pull your school’s voice and tone together to accurately represent the values of your school. Some key elements include:
- Awareness: What makes your school different from other schools? What’s your competitive edge, and are your school families and prospective students aware of your uniqueness?
- Interest and desire: What problems are your school communities facing, and what are your solutions? What makes your school interesting and desirable to parents and students?
- Applying solutions: You know your school communities’ concerns, what is your intent in resolving the issues? How do you publicly handle the concerns and provide solutions to their problems? Once a prospective school family sees a solution to a concern, they could inquire about next steps in enrolling in your school.
- Reassurance: If you claim your school facilities are built to encourage collaboration between students, which over time betters their testing scores, you need to have proof woven into your messaging through articles, case studies, or infographics. This gives parents the reassurance that you know what you’re talking about.
- Call to action: Show parents and families where they’re supposed to interact with your website in clear messaging. Using action phrases like “Schedule a tour here,” or “Enroll today,” or “Support our school” are all great engaging statements to get your message across.
Even if a solid messaging framework is in place for your school, it’s always good to revisit your messaging and make adjustments every once in a while. This will ensure your messaging is consistent as time passes. If you have already created a messaging framework and you’re ready to make some adjustments to best reflect your school’s key messages, take note of these tips below.
Ask questions about your target audience
This is a tactic that should be used time and time again as the needs of your target audiences change over time. What’s important to the parents and families within your school community? Are there any changes between this semester and last semester? Are there any events happening in the near future that could adjust the needs of your target audiences, like new faculty staffing or updated COVID-19 regulations within your school?
If your school is unique, your communities are unique, and your messaging needs to reflect the way your school families think. A good starting point is to refer to the key points in your school’s mission statement or values and go from there. Take those values and apply them to your target audiences’ main concerns,and build messaging that reassures them your school is the best option for their children.
Understanding voice vs. tone
Your school’s voice and the tone used to carry out the voice are key elements in your school’s messaging. Tone and voice are easily mixed up because they are naturally used in tandem for marketing and branding purposes. Essentially, tone and voice are used to express a brand or one’s self. Despite their similarities, they truly are different and have different impacts on your school’s messaging.
Voice is the individual style you use in your messaging that makes it unmistakably you. The elements in your school’s voice could be keywords you use or stray away from, or how you phrase certain sentences.
A school’s voice also contains aspects of the branding that will never change, like characteristics in the way you communicate with your school communities. If your messaging is on the wittier, more clever side, your voice could contain notes of wit and cleverness. If you’re more formal, your voice will hold more formal quirks. Whatever your school voice is, it should be uniform and consistent to eliminate confusion with your messaging. Grammarly stated it best: “Your voice is the fingerprint you leave on your writing so that someone can identify it as yours.”
Tone is another story. Your tone is built out of the smaller elements that change how people digest your information. For example, how many exclamation marks are you using in your website content? Do you use emojis in social media posts? How do you address people in emails? Read the statements below:
Statement 1: Let’s connect on this soon.
Statement 2: Let’s connect on this soon! 🙂
Note how the punctuation in the first statement makes the sentence more formal, and the exclamation mark and smiley face in the second statement make the sentence read more casually. Anyone receiving the statements will be able to understand the tone and emotion of the sentences based on elements like punctuation and sentence structure. Tone can change based on the situation, but it needs to work in tandem with your school’s voice to build consistent messaging.
Write from the student perspective
Though parents are a key target audience in your online branding, the messaging needs to appeal to the students too. After all, the children are the ones attending your school everyday. When school marketers build their school message, it can come off as unauthentic without speaking to the student experience at the school. Make sure you’re creating messaging that includes other perspectives than your own as the school marketer.
A great way to include the student perspective in your messaging is to interview students and work to understand their individual experiences at your school. Record student testimonials and use those to frame your messaging.
Avoid jargon for easier understanding
You want your school’s message to be easy to understand and relatable. Messaging full of jargon and industry phrases make your school’s message seem unattainable and complex, which is hard for families to relate to. Prospects and donors will be turned off from your website if they can’t understand the content or the overall message of what you’re trying to convey.
To avoid this, limit the use of acronyms or other industry terms that may need explaining on popular pages of your website, like your homepage. There’s no issue with having an acronym that applies to your school and is internally linked to a page where visitors can learn more, but it’s best to limit those in general so your content is overall easier to digest.
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