Here is Pillar #4 for effective marketing of Jewish day schools to the Jews, compliments of Chuck English at ejewishphilanthropy.com:
Your parents are customers. Think Zappos or Starbucks and provide your parents with an outstanding consumer experience. They are paying a lot of money to send their kids to your school and they have choices. This presents unique challenges in an educational setting because the product can’t always conform to the desires of your customers. There has to be integrity to the educational product and experience. But parents can still feel like their voice is being heard if the outcome isn’t the one they wanted. Respect and responsiveness must still be the basis of all communication. Every interaction with a parent – in the front office, in the classroom, in the tuition office, in every email or letter and e-newsletter, must let parents know how much they are valued and appreciated. Perhaps more importantly, there needs to be multiple channels – both online and off – that allow parents use to provide opinions.
Can I go on record and say that:
SCHOOLS ARE NOT STARBUCKS.
PARENTS ARE NOT CONSUMERS. THEY ARE PARENTS.
TEACHERS ARE NOT SERVICE PROVIDERS. THEY ARE THE PILLARS UPON WHICH JEWISH EDUCATION (and by extension, the COMMUNITY) STANDS.
And I am not saying this because I am a Jewish educator. I say this because Jewish tradition, in the form of countless maxims from the Sages, values and venerates Jewish learning and its practitioners. Jewish tradition does not operationalize, rationalize, monetize or scrutinize Jewish teaching in the fashion suggested by the school-as-Starbucks metaphor. In Jewish tradition, this “market discourse” approach would be anathema.
But for folks who do not look to the Sages for strategic planning, let us consider the logical end of this “market discourse”, if we follow this ever-popular and ever-sickening line of metaphor-making… I wonder: What then is the Child? A latté? What is a Jewish Education? How one steams milk to the optimal temperature? And can a particular line of lattés be discontinued if it does not generate enough return on investment? And can we apply Taylor’s principles to make Jewish education more efficient, more scaleable, more profitable?
Are you getting nauseous yet?
(And let us not get started on the value of Birthright, shall we? It is too early in the day…)