With campuses closed, admissions departments at our private school clients across the country have been tasked with taking their campus tour experience online. The reality is that there is a perpetual need for these assets in your marketing offering for prospective parents. 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 when campuses reopen.
This addition to your website admissions process can 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? How can you show them that you do? You need to show your students engaged in meaningful education and collaboration with their peers and teachers.
Tip #2: Don’t Skip the Pre-Production
With video production, the preparation is absolutely critical to a successful project. Remember: “practice makes purpose.” Since we’ve already sketched out some of the most critical equipment and planning tips for your virtual school tour we won’t go into as much detail here. There are a handful of additional things you should consider before you hit record, however.
- 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 echos, 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.
- Keep it short. Keep it simple.
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 shared in that walk around campus needs to translate to this virtual experience. Include voice over or text overlays to provide parents with those unique facts, stats, stories, and highlights which bring your school to life.
Before you start filming, take time to brainstorm those questions and the answers you want to provide. This should help as you create tailored follow-up content after the prospective parent watches your video.
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 in 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
Our multimedia team at North Star Marketing specializes in helping schools craft winning virtual tour videos. We’ve got other experts on hand to create effective strategies for promoting your videos in the right channels to reach your target prospective parents. Contact Micah Fox, Solutions Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore ways we can help with this project and your school’s enrollment growth.