Loving the now. Ready for next.
With increased competition and a shrinking market due to lower birth rates, Almaden Country School needed a fresh look and sophisticated messaging to increase market share and maintain its high grade.
In 2017, after 35 years of successful operation in Silicon Valley, Almaden Country School was facing an existential crisis. Enrollment was steadily dropping due to a number of market factors, including the declining birth rate in Santa Clara County, lower income levels among local families with children, and increasing competition from no-cost charter schools.
In addition, the school was incorrectly perceived as “softer” academically than some of its competitors in the private school space. In fact, Almaden County School graduates ranked among the top in Silicon Valley, and their acceptance rate to private high schools was around 98%
With the market shrinking, the school needed to increase market share to survive. They hired Orloff Marketing to help.
Our first step was to conduct a brand audit, develop a clear and concise positioning statement, and create messaging highly relevant to prospective parents and students. The goal: to be one of the top three schools qualified parents consider for their children.
We crafted a positioning statement for the school that clearly articulated its three areas of emphasis: academic rigor, character development, and the joy of childhood. Our brand promise was a balanced approach to early childhood education that would produce a happy kid fully prepared to advance to the next stage of their social and academic life. It was a clear differentiation from the offerings of their competitors: kill ’em and drill ’em academics and hours of nightly homework. The tagline “Loving the Now. Ready for Next.” articulated the brand promise.
We also recommended a name change to Almaden Country Day School (ACDS), which would more accurately reflect the school’s alignment with the educational philosophy of the national County Day School movement. We created a new identity package, including a redesigned logo, along with a carefully crafted messaging platform, message training for the school staff, updated marketing collateral, a new website, print and electronic advertising materials, and a re-allocation of their media budget.
Today, enrollment is up, parents are engaged, and a capital campaign has earned millions of dollars for campus improvements, including a recently completed event center/gymnasium.
Capital Campaign Support
The slogan “A Place to Play” became the cornerstone of a capital campaign to raise funds for the Fisher Event Center, a new event center/gymnasium. We developed a 12-page case statement to support the fundraising effort, created web pages devoted to the campaign, designed graphics and content for banners, signage, and social media posts, and crafted fundraising letters to current families and alumni.
The campaign goal was to raise $2.8 million, which was met ahead of the target date. Sixteen months later, we launched a follow-up campaign, “Help Outfit Our Place to Play,” to purchase equipment for the facility, including a scoreboard, theatrical lighting, a curtain, athletic equipment, and more. When it was all said and done, Almaden Country Day School raised $5.2 million.
The Learning Center Launch
Concurrent with the brand update, the school identified an underserved segment of the education market: children with language-based learning challenges such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. One in five children in Silicon Valley struggles with these challenges, which are typically identified in the first three years of elementary school.
No mainstream school in the area offered an integrated program to help these students, forcing their parents to find specialized, segregated schools where their needs could only be partially addressed. To capitalize on this market opportunity, ACDS opened The Learning Center (TLC) in 2018. Orloff Marketing created online advertising, website pages, and collateral materials to generate awareness of and drive enrollment to this new school-within-a-school.
TLC exceeded its enrollment goals in year one, and continued to grow each subsequent year. TLC students typically transition to all mainstream classes in 2-3 years, helping to maintain the school’s enrollment level.
The school’s website had become a repository for all school-related information. It was unwieldy, difficult to navigate, over-written, and in need of a content overhaul to agree with the school’s new messaging, positioning, and identity.
We completely revised the website. Online enrollment advertising was linked to a new landing page designed to introduce prospective families to the school’s brand promise, and clearly articulate the benefits of an ACDS education through text and images.
The home page was designed to support student retention with examples of academic rigor, character development, and a joyous childhood, and the navigation was revised to simplify searches for school-related information on curriculum, events, schedules, and staff.
We also created stand-alone landing pages for The Learning Center, which linked to online advertising aimed at parents with children with learning challenges, and for the successful capital campaign to support the Fisher Event Center, which included online donation functionality. Visit AlmadenCountryDaySchool.org
Social Media Marketing
The school’s advertising was over-reliant on print advertising in local publications. We re-allocated the majority of the advertising dollars into online advertising, and created a series of online campaigns that targeted the parents of preschoolers and kindergarteners within a 25-mile radius of the school. The call to action was to register to attend an open house.
We also conducted a separate campaign for The Learning Center, targeting parents whose online activity including searches for information on learning disabilities.
Each year, the number of clicks to the landing page improved and the school reported year-over-year increases in open house attendance, each setting a new record. Even during COVID, virtual open houses were well-attended. Our most recent campaign in 2021 saw clicks increase 9% over the previous campaign, while spending decreased.
We created full suite of materials that support enrollment and retention of students at Almaden Country Day School. That included:
- Email campaigns
- Print and online advertising
- Building signage
- Apparel and gift items
Part of our success in working with not-for-profit clients is our ability to track our progress and quantify the cost/value of our work. This drives better decision-making and improves the return on the investment of the client’s marketing dollars.
Our monthly updates include:
- Detailed marketing reports summarizing the performance of social media marketing activities, comparisons with industry averages, and recommendations for modifications to improve results
- As-needed team meetings with the client to monitor progress and update marketing activities and budgets
“For eight years I led Almaden Country Day School and struggled to clearly articulate our value proposition. Orloff Marketing spent two weeks on campus listening and observing and gave us the language to describe who we are and why we matter. Today, market awareness has grown and so has our enrollment. I am incredibly grateful.”
Ole Jorgenson Head of School, Almaden Country Day School
Related Education Marketing Experience
Expert branding elevates and educates. We have over 30 years of experience in elevating the brands of many of Silicon Valley’s leading learning institutions.
- Santa Clara University
- California Program for Entrepreneurship (CAPE) enrollment campaign
- Evergreen Valley College
- Branding, graphic design, media relations, print and broadcast advertising
- Harker School
- Branding, graphic design, media relations, print and broadcast advertising, apparel, website, brochures, capital campaign assistance
- San Jose City College
- Branding, graphic design, media relations, print and broadcast advertising, special events, brochures, and invitations
- Santa Clara County Office of Education
- Media relations
Branding Across All Media
Orloff Marketing provided a full range of print, electronic, social media and onsite marketing collateral to support Almaden Country Day School’s new brand.
From the archives
Over the years, Orloff Marketing has had the privilege to bring educational brands to life in Silicon Valley.