Good Shepherd Catholic School’s Fully Comprehensive Outreach Strategy
For more than 60 years, Good Shepherd Catholic School has instilled the importance of faith and strong moral values into thousands of students who have gone on to have a profound impact in their communities and throughout the world. From Pre-K 3 all the way through 8th grade, students are taught the fundamentals of respect, kindness, stewardship, and integrity while fostering a close relationship with God. As a private, Catholic School, Good Shepherd privates alternative education that provides various benefits including world-class academics, extracurricular activities, better student-to-teacher ratios, values and tradition, community service, and much more.
Communicating the School’s Value and Unique Benefits
Good Shepherd Catholic School is a pillar in the community and a wonderful asset to families looking for a more personalized education with the added value of catholic principles. With other private and catholic schools nearby, as well as public school offerings, Good Shepherd needed help standing a part from the crowd and establishing its unique brand. Mid-Atlantic Media Hub was up for the challenge! Teaming up with Premier Media and Bennis Public Relations on this project, we’re going to share the goals, strategy, outcome, and lessons learned from this unique case study.
Good Shepherd Catholic School, located in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, was struggling to maintain and increase its student enrollment. Various factors had caused a decrease in enrollment, and the school was competing against other private, catholic schools in the area. A major shift was needed to boost Good Shepherd’s presence in the community and build its brand value. Through a comprehensive advertising, marketing, and public relations strategy, the goal was to establish brand awareness, elicit interest in the school leading to more school tours, and ultimately increase enrollment numbers for the 2020-2021 school year and beyond.
Establishing a Core Team – The key to success for this project was making sure staff and volunteers at the school remained involved in the outreach campaign. A core team met monthly to ensure we remained on task and everyone had the resources they needed to keep things moving forward.
Outdoor Advertising – Various billboards were placed, and changed and moved frequently to stay fresh. At the time same, mobile billboard trucks drove strategic routes and parked in key areas to reach the target demographic.
Social Media Advertising – A series of paid advertising campaigns ran on Facebook and Instagram which matched the outdoor advertising. Ads were targeted at people living within the zip codes surrounding Good Shepherd, who were of the age to have children in grades prek-8, and who had interests and hobbies which aligned with current Good Shepherd families.
Digital Advertising – Much like the social media ads, digital ads were placed on various websites that were most likely to reach our target demographic. This included both localized websites (such as news sources) to national websites, but targeted to local users.
New Signage – To enhance the outside appearance of the school and draw attention to the refreshed brand, new signage was placed on the side of Good Shepherd where it was larger and more likely to be seen by cars passing by on the popular street in front of the school.
Updated Website – A new website gave the school a fresh and professional look, plus was easier to navigate to find important information. This was critical since all ads were pushing people to visit the website. Additionally, a landing page to capture information from families wishing to schedule a tour was created and used for all digital and social ads.
Marketing Brochures – Various new marketing brochures were created so that they could be shared at fairs and festivals, given to realtors to pass on to new families, and mailed to families who contact the school.
Direct Mail – Through a local print company, Hot Frog Media, we were able to purchase a list of all new families who have moved into the area in the last year, and who have school-aged children. We mailed each of these families a marketing brochure with a branded outer envelope to invite them to check out Good Shepherd.
Bumper Stickers – New bumper stickers were created and given to all Good Shepherd families to place on their cars. This easy but effective tactic turned hundreds of cars into mobile billboards and could be spotted all across town. Bumper stickers were also given out at events and to all families who toured the school.
Open House – In January, Good Shepherd organized an open house event which provided school tours, refreshments, giveaways, and allowed families to experience, first-hand, what it’s like to be a part of the Good Shepherd family.
School Improvements – Prior to the open house, Good Shepherd received new interior paint and various improvements. Additionally, they created wall decals to add color and graphics to hallways, the library, and the doors outside their art class, music class, science lab, nurse’s office, and much more.
New Technologies – Good Shepherd also actively sought private funding from donors to invest in zSpace technologies, which is a 3D, interactive computer monitor which allows students to explore health and science subjects from a whole new level. No other school in the region has this technology, so it instantly gave Good Shepherd a leg up.
Summer Camp – For the first time ever, Good Shepherd decided to open up their school in the summer to provide a summer camp for all children in the community. This provided to be a popular and effective way to not only bring in additional funds but to expose non-Good Shepherd students to the school’s facility, resources, and caring learning environment.
The combined outcome of all of these efforts proved to exceed any and all expectations. Immediately, Good Shepherd received feedback from the community that they were seeing their brand “everywhere.” Social media ads were reaching 30,000 people every 90 days, and earning 700+ clicks to visit the page to schedule a tour. Digital ads were also outperforming expectations, consistently exceeding impressions ordered versus impressions delivered. By March, more than 1 million people were served a Good Shepherd ad digitally with 1,600 clicks to the landing page. The school was giving an average of 3-4 tours to new families every week. By January 2020, Good Shepherd had 3 times the number of students enrolled for the 2020-2021 school than it did in May of 2019. Additionally, by February the summer camp had already hit enough enrollment for every week to ensure it would break even. Future summer camp enrollments moving forward meant additional profit.
But what was most impressive was the success of the open house. In previous years, Good Shepherd would host several open houses throughout the year and about 10 or so new families would attend. This year, they decided to focus on one, large open house. And it worked! More than 50 families were in attendance. The school was packed and volunteers gave school tours nonstop for 2 hours. From the open house alone, Good Shepherd received 12 student enrollments, and more continued to trickle in for weeks after. The enrollments from the open house earned Good Shepherd nearly $100,000 in tuition for the next school year. In just 9 months, Good Shepherd went from worrying about low enrollment numbers, to now considering how they may need to implement a waiting list!
- An effective strategy must start with awareness. First and foremost, we had to establish the Good Shepherd brand. Billboards and digital ads focused on getting the Good Shepherd logo and signature blue and gold colors out in the community. Once people became aware of the brand, we could take things to the next level with a call to action.
- A multi-faceted approach works best. Putting up a single billboard would have not delivered the desired results. Rather, we combined outdoor advertising, digital and social ads, and a new website with a myriad of other communications strategies from open houses to physical improvements around the school. Combined, it became impossible not to notice Good Shepherd in the community.
- A rising tide lifts all boats. We learned that other catholic schools were receiving more attention due to the Good Shepherd brand educating parents that private schools are worth taking a closer look at. Additionally, other catholic schools began putting out their own bumper stickers and lawn signs. The diocese was thrilled that Good Shepherd’s efforts seemed to shine a new light on all catholic schools in the area.
Could your business benefit from creating a unique advertising, marketing, and public relations strategy to boost your brand? If so, let’s have a conversation! Contact Mid-Atlantic Media Hub for a free consultation and to learn more about the services we provide. You can contact us online, by email, or by phone here.