Many Hats Make Marketing Work




by Jodie Shoemaker, Director of Marketing, Communications, and Alumni Relations

The Woods Academy, Bethesda, MD


True Story. One of the food servers in our cafeteria wears a different hat that matches the food on the menu each day. Yesterday, he donned a hotdog hat. The students, especially the younger ones, get a kick out of the silly hats and look forward to making their way through the lunch line to see which hat Ross is wearing. His hat adds to the lunch experience. That is great customer service.


This started me thinking. Is it really all that bad that marketing professionals in independent schools wear many hats?


This week alone, I wore my “admissions hat” and supported my colleague at our winter Open House. Who else was going to straighten the ties of the students preparing to give tours or make sure there was decaf, hot water, and tea bags, not just coffee for the prospective families to enjoy on a chilly winter day?


I also wore my “yearbook” hat and worked with the 8th Grade students on preparing their special “graduation pages” for the publication, making sure the students included those important memories that their families will cherish and share with others when talking about our school.


Every day I wear my “carpool” hat, happily direct traffic, and call family names being sure to pronounce each surname correctly, so that they know we know them personally.


When I finish writing this, I will put on my “photog” hat and snap some photos of the girls’ basketball team in action. I will then edit the photos and post them to our online photo-sharing site so that one of our parents can download a photo of her daughter and share it with her friends and family noting how happy she is with our school’s athletics program.


Then before I head home for the evening, I will put on my “communications” hat, edit, and publish one of the blog posts that a teacher just sent over because the story perfectly highlights our world language program. Someone may be searching for daily Spanish instruction and this post will help increase awareness of our offerings.


Tomorrow, I will wear my “special events” hat and my “former math teacher” hat. I will greet and mingle with the guests joining us for Founders Day Mass, some of whom are parents of the students I taught when I first joined the school.


The tasks I perform while wearing each of my many hats may not seem like marketing, but they are. In fact, the tasks that every faculty and staff member at an independent school performs, no matter the hat on his/her head, is marketing and Marketing Guru Seth Godin would agree. In one of his recent blog posts, he wrote, “Marketing used to be advertising. Now, marketing is everything you do. And what you do either adds to the experience or takes away from it.”


So, will you be like Ross today and put on a silly hat so that the kids in the lunch line smile? How will you add to the experiences of the families at your independent school?




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