Sunday, August 23, 2015

Marketing your school counseling program 101!

Stand here- they have to see you!
Tri-fold #1: Welcome Station
Even though our degrees might be in psychology and counseling, it feels like I should have gotten a minor in marketing as well... The role of the school counselor can sometimes be hidden in a back office, off the beaten path, and have a negative connotation, or NO connotation at all!

 Example A: Yesterday a parent asked if he could come talk about his dreams so I could psychoanalyze them... A smile and a laugh later, I informed him that I would NOT be able to do that... on the basis that I am not a psychic, nor am I Freud... 
Plan yourself HERE: The Welcome table!

Tri-fodl #2-in the car tag room,
where EVERY parent HAS to go:)
I use this silly example to show how little people know about our role. We HAVE to market our program, or else it will be marketed/interpreted for us.

Here are my top 3 Marketing Tips to get your foot in the door, your name on peoples mouth, and your presence KNOWN for all (teachers, admin, parents, and most importantly, students!):

1. Meet EVERYone and ANYone.. from the Principal to the custodians. I would argue that the custodian is the most important person you need to know, but that is for another time. Go to each room individually, with a notebook, and introduce yourself, and learn ONE thing about that person. Write it down and then go home and STUDY! If you do not make connections with the staff, there is NO way you will get to know the students.  Write a thank you card to each staff member.. Yes that means you go to the dollar store, buy a pack of thank you cards and get writing! I didn't write a novel in each card, but I DID write about a personal connection in each one. "Thank you for letting me come to your room, I loved your bird theme... Thank you for sharing with me about your husbands job... etc."

2. There is no way we can be in 10 places at once. This is where your brochure and tri-folds come in. Have your traveling bulletin board in places that have high traffic. I put mine at the welcome desk the first few days of school,  in the front office, and in the conference room, where every single family HAS to go. While I would have loved to be at all 3 places the first few days of school, I knew I couldn't. I traveled in between these places and let my board talk for me.  On the board I have the following:

    Tri-fold #3 in the main office
  • Name, about me, small groups, guidance topics, individual counseling information, counseling mission, vision, and where to find me. This helps to start the conversation about what we do, and who we are. 

3. Lunch bunch: Starting Day 3, I start the process of inviting EVERY student to lunch with me. I do this in small groups of 3-4 students, and make my way from oldest to youngest in alphabetical order. This starts the conversation of where my room is, about me, and then I get to learn a little bit about them. YES, this is marketing, YES, this is fun, and YES, it is the best part of my day- all wrapped in one 25 minute block. The students go home, tell their parent about our lunch bunch, and parents start knowing who I am and how I can help!

WHOO! That was a long one,BUT I hope it is helpful for our newbies and those trying to revamp their program.

Missing a minor,

This emotionally stimulated Floridian Chicka!

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