This really isn't rocket science but I am continually amazed at how many organisations get this wrong. Recently my family have been doing high school tours to help us make a decision regarding the right school for our eldest child.
The schools have had many different approaches to this process. However,
their messages have been very similar, "We create a caring, belonging
and nurturing environment for your child where we seek to create well
rounded young adults with strong academic and life skills."
Yet it is our experience of this message that has stood out the most for
us. One school that had over 900 students crammed us into a room where
three teachers and three students spent 60 minutes 'telling' us about
the nurturing and sense of belonging that the school creates. The
speeches were fine, the images shown to us on the PowerPoint
presentation also looked fine.
The teachers then stayed in that room while the three students led over
crowded tours around the school. Classrooms were closed, it had become
dark and lights were off and we spent most of the time peering in
through windows trying to get a sense of what the school was like.
After a while the litter on the ground became more and more noticeable. After all, there wasn't much else to see or experience.
It seems to me that if you are going to promote a sense of belonging,
then that is the 'experience' that you should do your very best to
create. This is a classic case of ensuring that your message and the
experience you create are aligned. All it takes is a few moments to ask this question, "Is the experience we are going to create aligned
with our message?"
The school I have described is no longer on our list. Other parents who
have also visited the school for their tours have expressed similar
concerns. The school is completely unaware of the misalignment between
their message and the experience they are creating.
How do you make sure that your message and the experience you create are aligned?
This article has been re-posted after having originally been posted in October 2010.