Most charter schools have one of two challenges: not enough kids or not enough talent (and some poor folks don’t have enough of either). Regardless of who we’re trying to reach -- 20-something teachers or 20-something parents -- we’re communicating to the same generation: Millennials. Since these folks are pretty critical to our success, we’d better figure out how to talk to them!
To be clear, the life experiences of young teachers are often -- but definitely not always -- very different from the young parents we serve. Effective marketing starts with understanding our specific audience’s hopes and dreams. But there are some generational experiences that transcend these differences and understanding them can be helpful.
Millennials usually have finely-tuned B.S. detectors. They’ve grown up in a complex media landscape and can tell very quickly when you're trying to sell them something. They value authenticity and if they think you’re being fake, they shut you down, quick. Fortunately, you’re making an amazing difference in the lives of your staff and your families. You just need to be clear about your organization's values and the impact you’re trying to make.
Tell Me a Story
Watching commercials since you were in diapers can turn you into a pretty savvy consumer, which is why traditional marketing campaigns don’t work with a lot of Millennials. They’ve heard the pitches and the jingles and they’re not buying it. They want to hear a story: one that’s aspirational or inspirational (or features kittens). The good news is that you already have a ton of amazing stories about how your organization is transforming lives. You just need to make the time to tell them.
Mobile is Queen
Most 20-somethings don’t remember a world before cell phones, and Millennials typically spend more time interacting with their phones than their children or their significant others. Traditional marketing channels can be a nice add-on to a campaign, but if you’re trying to reach Millennials you need to go where they are: their phones. Fortunately digital ads can be incredibly (sometimes creepily) targeted, just make sure your ads and your website look good on a phone.
If you want to reach people, you need to spend time getting to know them and what they want in a career for themselves or a school for their child. In both instances they're incredibly important and personal decisions. But these basic insights can help you craft a targeted message that gets Millennials off of their phones and into your school.