Getting familiar with other schools and what they offer can be an important towards getting clear on who YOUR school is and what makes you different.
That’s right– you can actually get more clear and confident about who your school is by scouting out the other schools your prospective families often consider.
Understanding your competition can help you:
Avoid missteps and achieve success faster
If another school launches a new program or other initiative that you’ve been considering, keep track of the progress. You might be able to gain some valuable insight into what was successful and what wasn’t, then apply those insights to your own efforts.
Gain insight into family expectations
When you know what competing schools offer, you also come closer to understanding of what a potential family expects of you. If every school in your area provides a similar art program, for example, that offering might no longer be the extra you think it is. If every school who offers a similar science program has state-of-the-art equipment, you might come to realize that’s not a differentiator, it’s a baseline expectation.
See areas of opportunity
I love the moments when we are working on a strategy and find that a school’s vision and philosophy aligns with a need in the school community. You will never know if or where that hole exists– or understand how perfectly you fill it– if you don’t understand what you offer that competing schools don’t. And remember, it’s not always about programs and services– your differentiator might be about approach, philosophy, or leadership.
Reviewing other schools’ content can also help you hone in on the language, tone, imagery, and even the color palette that will differentiate your school.
Determine your own strengths
You might think you know what your strengths and weaknesses are, but a review of the competition will round out your perspective. Something that you don’t think twice about because it’s so ingrained in your culture might turn out to be a huge differentiator for your school. You can’t capitalize on that unless you know what it is.
This isn’t a super-sneaky endeavor. Everything you need to know you can learn on the internet. When evaluating your competition, look at their:
Your goal should never be to copy another school, but rather, to gain inspiration from them. When you understand your competition, you can better understand who your school is, get familiar what prospective students and families see when they’re exploring their options– and find the ways your school authentically stands out from the rest.