Posted October 9, 2018 by Mark Perna
I’ve written before about what I call “the Rain Effect,” where you drip value messages onto your target audiences until they become saturated with the story and then act on that knowledge. These “drips” can be anything: postcards, billboards, brochures, letters, visits, career nights, showcases, community involvement events, radio spots, and any other way to get the message out. The important thing is that it’s getting out there and that people are seeing it. But for maximum impact, these drips need to be coordinated in a strategic sequence and timeline.
Often I find that schools send one postcard and maybe another unrelated mailing per year to prospective students, and that’s great. They’re reaching out. But an occasional mailing won’t keep your organization top of mind or convey the full expanse of opportunities you deliver. To be most effective, these communications should be used strategically within a larger, more comprehensive timeline of drip sequences.
The power of an intentional communication drip sequence and timeline is the synergy created by strategically coordinating the string of drips. In this string, each drip purposefully leads to the next drip, moving the audience closer to taking action with each step.
Many schools do a wonderful job of this, this, and this—but the key to effective planning is developing an overarching strategy where “this” actually leads to “this,” which leads to “this.” Working together as part of an effective strategy, “this,” “this,” and “this” are significantly more powerful than they would be alone, because they support, reinforce, and build upon one another.
The most effective drip sequences are focused on one thing: sharing a compelling narrative that will catch the eye of students and their parents. An example of a compelling narrative is the incredible array of viable, rewarding career pathways that career-focused educational pathways can open up. How many people know just how many opportunities are out there in each field?
I’ve also written about creating powerful program narratives and how telling that story is an amazing way to change the paradigm. We can transform people’s perspectives with a consistent message of value—but first we have to define that message and craft a strategic plan and timeline to make it known. All the communications, in every medium and format, should be interrelated and work together to motivate the desired action.
We also have to determine the steps that we want the audience to take after experiencing the drip sequence. Should they call you? Apply online? Come to your open house? Engage with you on social media? Starting with a sharp picture of what you want the audience to do will help you hone that message and give them a clear next step.
So what is the compelling narrative, the story that makes your organization stand out? Maybe your organization has already defined this, or maybe you need to give it some thought. Work through these questions:
These and many other questions like them can help you craft a story that will resonate with your audience. That narrative can then be broken into bite-size bits to create the content for your drip sequence.
A strategic drip sequence eliminates the problem of random acts of marketing that many organizations struggle with. By leading the audience through a logical sequence of ideas and steps, you’ll maximize your response rates, enhance your image in the community, and make a bigger difference for the young people you serve. It’s the Rain Effect, strategically deployed to help you achieve more of the right students, in the right programs and pathways, for the right reasons.