Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why virtual schools will succeed . . .

. . . is the obligation I owe to you after my last blog, even though I touched on it there too.

The virtual schools that succeed are the ones that embrace the new paradigm. They will move away from the old mindset of marketing to the masses and serve the outliers, the weird. They will stop watching the daily enrollment numbers. And, they will understand that retention is not a program that launches every March.

What will they do instead? Three main things that all other activities revolve around.

1. Make retention a culture

Virtual schools that comprehend there really is no such thing as an "Enrollment Department" will begin to understand the positive impact that can have on their culture. Remember, retention begins at the point someone pays attention to what you are saying, not each March.

It then extends to each and every thing you do as a school -- in reality, even the next two items revolve around this one.

2. Be in the connection business

Successful virtual schools will be the ones who are in the connection business as much as the academic. The internet has transformed our world into a connection economy -- the old way of doing business is either over already, or quickly coming to an end. Virtual schools, by their very nature, have the ability to take advantage of this new paradigm and be an environment of connection.

3. Speak clearly and fulfill your promises

Not talking about annunciation here. No, this has more to do with communicating the expectations, responsibilities, commitments, and challenges clearly, succinctly, and authentically. Stay away from "marketing" terms, and speak with clarity.

And, when you make a promise, make sure you fulfill it. If you want to inspire loyalty, then fulfill it in an unexpected, delightful way to the student/family.

Understand though, knowing what to do is different than knowing how to do it. Implementing these three items (and all the other ones that wrap around these) will not be of help to you unless you do it the right way -- and that takes authenticity more than a strategy.

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