Marketing for Adventist School Leaders


"Marketing" is not just advertising. "Marketing" is choosing who we want to be and then becoming that so authentically that engaged consumers will be our most effective advocates.



If You Had One Thousand Dollars. . .

 . . .to use in marketing your school, how would you use it this week?


The most common answers I receive to this “possibility question” are:The most common answers I receive to this “possibility question” are:


Print up a brochure and hang it on the doorknob of every house in the school’s neighborhood where it looks like the family may have children.


Buy advertising in the Community Action Pages of the town newspaper.


Use it as tuition scholarships for needy students.


But take a look at the “return” on each of those common approaches:


Of the families who get the doorknob brochure, a maximum of 1% to 2% may inquire about the school.


Newspaper advertising may raise awareness, but seldom brings students.


A thousand dollars invested in meaningful scholarships may help 2-5 students.



Here are some of the more creative responses I’ve seen implemented with “windfall” marketing money:


Purchase a FLIP VIDEO (the new HD ULTRA is the best for your use and is only about $180) and give it to a team of three upper-grade students to use in making 3x/wk updates to your school website. By keeping the website current – with buckets of pictures of the kids and their smiles – you will increase web traffic (all the parents will want to see Johnny’s photo sliding into first base) while also increasing student buy-in to the school program. 


(By the way, next week’s newsletter is all about your school’s website…and your personal Facebook page.)


Buy and plant Winter Pansies beside the sidewalks, in window boxes, along the road, and anywhere else where color will improve the look of campus. By the way, colorful flowers, well cared for, improve attitudes of students, teachers, parents and neighbors.


Set up an open account at McDonalds (or whatever fast food restaurant your students enjoy most) and then hang out there a couple times each week. Buy frosties, fries, and other inexpensive food and share conversations with student friends. It’s the best way to hear what’s really happening at school and learn where to apply grease.


Paint the door jambs, the window sills, and the bathrooms. These are the places dirt accumulates fastest – and where a little paint makes the brightest statement.


Buy a box of big picture books from your local bookstore– the ones that show photos of Scottish castles, smiling pooches, or American Muscle Cars, and are on sale for $7.98. Get books for all ages and make a BIG DEAL about adding them to the library where kids can enjoy ‘em. If your local bookstore doesn’t have the books you’d like, go to or


Laminate Photo-ID library cards for the parents of each student. Hold a library Open House for parents and give them check-out privileges for double the amount of books you allow students to take home. Make them educational partners with books (and relationships) as the glue.


Have you spent the money yet???


Give a “flash drive” containing photos and contact information of each student to each staff member. Ask them to put the information in their cell phone and then begin addressing each student by name in the classroom, in the hallway, in the lunchroom, on the playground, and at Safeway. Knowing that the teachers know my name makes all relationships easier and friendlier.


Money for advertising at this time of year is OK, if you have lots of money. However, if the money is short…drop the advertising and put all of your resources into improving the school in ways that will quickly pay the highest return.


One other thing. Assign an English class to write a newspaper article on the Photo-ID cards for parents. The newspaper will probably print the article and then send a reporter out to see what other newsworthy things you have going on!


Have a great week!



Dick Duerksen, Editor

Grow My School


To ask questions or comment on anything in the GROW MY SCHOOL NEWSLETTER, or for more information on Marketing Adventist Schools, please send an e-mail to Dick Duerksen at  HYPERLINK ""


GROW MY SCHOOL is a service of the NAD Office of Education.



Issue 2009:9

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About the Author

Dick Duerksen is Assistant to the President of Maranatha Volunteeers International where he serves as Storyteller. He is also Creative Consultant to the NAD Office of Education. Dick has worked within the Seventh-day Adventist church as a pastor, administrator, editor, planner and consultant for creative ministry.


1 Meet the Small Fry

Recruitment begins with the Tiny

Do a "Marketing Presentation" for the parents at every nearby Day Care Center.  Follow-up with an invitation for a "kid-friendly" campus tour. 


2 Do Their Homework

Keep the parents a month ahead
Prepare the homework assignments and pages at least a month ahead. Bind them in a booklet and send a copy home to the folks. They'll respect you more if they know you're ahead.  And they'll help the kids keep up!


3 Recruit "the gifted"

Who's $ needy...with smarts
Bring 'em to a series of donation only "How To" seminars on texting legibly, hooking up stereos, photographing kids, and growing tomatoes. Be known as the school with creative solutions.


4 Think Parent

Ask: What would a parent like?
Then do it. Surprise them. Again and again till they know you're serious about serving them. Choose to like them.


5 Turn Pages

Move your office to the library

Not forever, but for at least an hour each day.  Read to kids and have them read to you.  And spring $20 for "Cats," "Dogs," and "Horses" books at Borders.  They're on the SALE tables.