5 Tips for Creating a Winning Virtual School Tour

Prospective parents are often juggling careers and household duties on top of researching private schools. To say they are short on time is an understatement — which is why you can rise closer to the top of their list by offering a top-notch virtual school tour.

Virtual private school tours are a great way to help parents get an initial preview of your campus before scheduling an in-person tour or student shadow day. They also strengthen the quality of your inquiries and play a role in enrollment growth. Whether this is a brand new project or something that’s been in your marketing backlog, we have five helpful tips to take your tour from ‘meh …’ to ‘magnificent!’ in the minds of your prospective parents.

Tip #1: Keep it Parent Centric … Not School Centric

This is a huge consideration for all your marketing materials but it’s crucial to remember as you plan what to include in your virtual tour. You are showcasing your school — that’s the subject — but the needs of your prospective parents and their families need to shape your message. Parents need to be able to envision what their child’s school day will look like on your campus.

What does that look like in practical terms? You’ll prioritize content that shows the care and individual attention students get from their teachers because that means more to your prospective parents than your mission statement or an administrator reciting your core values. You’ll feature photos and videos of students learning, playing, and collaborating in your buildings. You can give less time to the static footage of your building exteriors.

Are you trying to sort out what to include and running into some writer’s block or confusion? Come back to the main questions you always get asked during campus tours and focus on answering those questions in this digital experience. Are they really curious about how many AP classes you offer? Or do they want to know their kid will have a strong college prep experience? You need to show your students engaged in meaningful learning and collaboration with their peers and teachers.

Tip #2: Don’t Skip the Pre-Production

With video production, preparation is absolutely critical to a successful project. Remember: “practice makes purpose.” Before you hit record, consider the following:

  • It’s hard to talk to a camera instead of a person, but the more you can look right into the camera and use natural hand gestures, the better it will feel to your viewers. Don’t forget to smile! 
  • Remember the old film student adage: “Show. Don’t tell.” As you’re sketching out your shot list and script, take extra time to think about ways to make it visually appealing. If there’s a way to demonstrate something in action instead of describing it … do that!
  • Don’t go overboard with equipment, but don’t film the whole production without a tripod. If you’re using a cellphone camera, orient it in the horizontal position as you record. Be aware of background noise, and listen for echoes, road noise, birds chirping, air conditioning units, etc. Periodically stop as you’re filming to play back what you’ve recorded so you can see and hear if there is anything distracting.

Tip #3: Stick to Your Script

Yes, we’re talking about your virtual tour filming script, but we also mean your regular tour ‘script.’ Your admissions team has it memorized down to each step, right? They know which classroom to visit for great teacher engagement, and they know when to pause and share a particular statistic for maximum effect with your audience.

The message you share during your in-person walk around campus needs to translate to this virtual experience. Include voice-over or text overlays to give parents unique facts, stats, stories, and highlights that bring your school to life.

Before you start filming, take time to brainstorm the questions parents usually ask and the answers you want to provide. Keep it short. Keep it simple.

Tip #4: Balance Campus Shots with Day-in-the-Life Photos and Footage

Yes, families do want to see your facilities. They want to see inside your classrooms, look down the locker-lined hallways, and see what kind of artwork is on the classroom walls. These are essential elements of a virtual tour. But don’t lose sight of what they care about more. What makes your school unique from the school down the road? Spoiler alert: we know. It’s the people that fill your building each day and the school community you build each day with students, parents, faculty, and staff.

Are the photos you have of your classrooms a little messy? If they have students actively learning, smiling, and participating, those photos are probably stronger virtual tour material than tidy, empty classroom shots. Recess, school programs, sports, lunchrooms: take your camera (and your new prospective parents) into the midst of real life in your hallways and classrooms.

Maybe you’re not finding the photos and footage you need in your marketing files. Don’t forget that your students and parents are actively documenting and sharing great school and student photos on their social feeds. Ask them to send you some of their best shots! You might dig up some great material to feature in your virtual tour.

Tip #5: Close with Confidence

Give parents a clear next step after the virtual tour. Is it a meeting with admissions or an online application? This is not the time to make your parents guess about the next move in the process. Close your virtual tour with confidence when you give them additional helpful resources and a crystal clear call to action.

Help for Your Virtual School Tour Strategy

North Star Marketing specializes in helping independent and faith-based schools tell their story to right-fit families. Contact our solutions advisors to explore ways we can help your school with messaging and digital strategy as you pursue healthy enrollment.

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