What Your Business Can Learn From A College Tour

Touring four college in five days this past week, as a parent, was both fascinating and exhausting.

Aside from the cliches (“We make a big school feel small”) and the absurdly excessive use of the word “like,” today’s college tour offers an important lesson to anyone trying to communicate to a fickle audience. Which audience could be more challenging than high schoolers and their parents?

The answer lies in messages – credible, clear, concise and perhaps most importantly, consistent, messages.

Too often, would-be clients want to direct us first to “get press.” But we push back. In order to receive attention of any kind, there needs to be a defined set of messages – quite simply, words – that speak for the organization outlines who you are, what do you and how you’re different.

The best communicated and most memorable schools we saw during our week of tours nailed the part about messaging. After after a whirlwind week, several points of difference stand out about a couple of the places we visited. That’s because no matter who we talked to – an admissions officer, a student tour guide or students we chatted with along the way (even, in some cases, alumni who reacted to my wife’s Facebook photos), said essentially the same things about the experience there.

That’s the lesson for wherever you work. To truly stand out, you must capture the right defining words and use them consistently. The best gift you can give those who represent you is to equip them with the messages that help them do their job.

That’s where we often begin – helping clients first create their messaging and guide them on how to put it to work – in person, online, in writing and in response to interview questions. If they can get that right, it gets them much of the way.

As for leading a group of strangers for miles while walking backwards? Sorry, we can’t help with that.