St. Mark’s School

Project Description

Background
  • Grade 9 to 12, coeducational boarding school located in Southborough, Massachusetts.
Challenge
  • St. Mark’s School wanted to improve retention by recruiting more best-fit families and to increase yield as the traditional admissions funnel became less reliable.
  • Mounting internal concerns that St. Mark’s lack of definition in the marketplace reduced its attractiveness to best-fit families.
  • Highly competitive market was growing more intense every year as schools invested more and more in marketing.
Approach
  • Spent two days on campus meeting with leadership, trustees, faculty, staff, current students, and local parents to understand the school’s mission, values, and unique qualities.
  • Market research included phone-based, in-depth interviews with current international families and key target prospective families, including domestic and international families, families who inquired but didn’t apply, and families who were accepted but went elsewhere.
  • Interviewed decision influencers: placement consultants, international agents, feeder schools, and college admissions directors.
  • Confirmed lack of awareness and differentiation among prospective families, but decision influencers were well-informed.
  • Developed five potential positioning concepts based on insights from the research. The St. Mark’s project team chose three for further testing.
  • The winning concept focused on the educational benefits of a small, close-knit environment.
  • Developed Supportive Messages to guide marketing and communications at critical points in the inquiry and admissions process.
  • Conducted Message Training with trustees, leadership, faculty, and staff to turbo-charge word-of-mouth referrals in a natural and comfortable way for each participant.
  • Created a new brand voice and tagline, “Intentionally Small, Thinking Big.”
  • Wrote new copy for the rotating carousel on the homepage.
Results
  • Within just a few months of Message Training, the consistent communication of the “Intentionally Small, Thinking Big” brand positioning in personal conversations improved yield.
  • St. Mark’s recently launched the redesigned website and is moving ahead with implementation to continue to grow yield and retention.
Want even more insight?

Listen to our podcast interview with Chuck Greene, director of communications and marketing at St. Mark’s School.  Chuck talks more about the work the school did with EdwardsCo and enrollment results.

Project Details

Client: St. Mark's School, Southborough, Massachusetts

Tags: Brand Strategy, Copywriting, Execution, Message Training

Back to Top