Participants: Katie Christianson, Dan Calzaretta, Linda Solis, David Brauhn & David Mumm
August 29, 2017
What would you like us to do for you? What is the purpose and scope of the project (heighten credibility, expand services, sell 2000 widgets, etc)?
Develop a clear and compelling message, reach our audience through a mix of traditional and new media, and gain full enrollment 0f 120 by our lottery date in February.
Also: Willow should look competent and established. The mission, vision, and passion should translate into the message. We must educate the audience of students and families must about what a charter school is and how Willow Public School will change their lives for the better. We must sell the dream. We must also appeal to donors, volunteers, and the wider community.
- A bright and positive brand.
- More than 200 names on the lottery list by February. We now have 13 on the list with 40 known.
- Full enrollment.
- The first year goal is 120.
- By year five, the goal will be 225 students.
We will set out to develop an annual marketing plan and a sequence of events for every student contact. We must harvest our leads!
- Logo Polish
- Identity Package (Business Card, Letterhead, Envelope, and the foundation for additional related items.)
- Direct Mail Series
- Booklet (also for hand distribution)
- Newspaper Ads
- La Vos
- Spanish Radio
- Yard signs
- Local Walla Walla face time
- Interior Display
- Exterior Display
- Name tags for board and staff
- Name plates for board meetings
- Giveaways (SWAG)
- Temporary Tattoos
- Tell the Willow Story
- Detail Academics, student life, sports, music, art, travel, meals, technology, language.
- Active Blog
- Teacher & Board Bios (with complete contact info)
- Busy Events Calendar
- Donor Opportunities
- Unique landing pages for Students and Parents
- Easter Eggs
- Continued Website Development (The website never sleeps)
- Email Marketing (To established contacts).
- Social Media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and more)
- Facebook Ads
- Google Adwords
What limitations or constraints do you have (budget, schedule, size, paper, etc.)? What elements or colors or other personal preferences must be represented in this project? Where will additional materials that we do not create come from? (writing/photography/illustration etc.) What are examples of projects of this type you have seen that you think are effective? Share samples with us. How does distribution affect the budget, creative time, use of color, mechanical requirements?
The sky is the limit. We are open and have no particular constraints. Even the logo, which we are somewhat attached to, could change if that’s necessary to tell our story more compellingly.
The logo and our story should show our strong connection to the Latino community. We chose name ‘Willow’ because it indicates fast growth, strength, flexibility, and the fact that the tree is strongly rooted with as much foundation below ground as beauty above ground.
The color palate is open, but we may wish to avoid the current pastels and go with something stronger.
We must meet our April lottery deadline.
- Photography: Analise Spencer (and everybody’s phones)
- Video: Jeremy Gonzalez (and everybody’s phones)
- Writing: Katie, Dan, Linda, David B.
What are the goods and / or services your business provides? What is the product or service that you want to promote? What are its features? How much does it cost? What is it made of and how is it used? What makes it different, unusual, or unique?
Willow Public School will provide a caring, exciting, vibrant, life-changing educational experience with a focus on kids impacted by poverty and students of color.
- Willow will open doors for a community of children at an unwieldy age, and often in difficult circumstances. It is our goal to help kids impacted by poverty and students of color feel equal. No matter where you come from, we can assist as you on your journey to a better destination. We help families find out how they fit in. Latinos often feel present but separate in our community. Willow will integrate students into a single learning community and assist each student reach for their potential. The Willow program is specifically designed to direct resources to those with fewer resources.
- Inclusiveness is essential. Outcomes are key. Willow students will be prepared to be innovative and successful in high school so that, when they leave high school, they are ready for college or an interesting career.
- Willow does education differently: Rather than use a traditional educational model where teachers tell students what’s important, we’ll ask kids what is important — what they are interested in — and build a program to meet their needs. Willow is also different because we are focused on personalized learning. We look closely, find a student’s strengths and build upon those strengths. We will also find where a student needs help and assist them as they build skills. The beginning of each lesson plan is “What cool thing can we do today to learn lots and have fun with the kids.”
- Willow's foundation is rigorous and innovative team teaching. Staff and teachers will work together in the classroom and on campus to form a complete learning environment. Class periods will be longer to allow time for more discovery and creative thinking. For example, science and math are taught together in what we call the “inquiry block.” Language, art, and history together meet in the Humanities block. We will group students by skill, ability, and interest.
- A good day at school starts with a great breakfast. Every school day begins with breakfast, and a small group meet-up (crew) for everyone. Nutrition, social, and emotional learning come before academic learning. Only when kids are fed and emotionally comfortable are they ready to learn. We give kids the skills to address life problems before academic problems. Community building, conflict resolution, and collaboration (the 3 Cs) start each day.
- Smaller is better. We will know every kid and every family. Parents will be involved. We are a smallish school with more aids and a focus on organization. We often have two or more mentors per classroom (Lead teacher, aide, community experts, administrative folks, staff...) Willow Public School classrooms will always contain many bilingual adults so language will never be a barrier to learning. Willow mentors will coach you on how to be ready for life, not just how to pass the test. Note: At Willow, the one-size-fits-all label of teacher will be replaced with mentor, guide, learning coach, life coach or similar.
- Students will move on at their own pace. When a student reaches mastery, they are ready to progress. It is intuitive that students learn at different rates. Willow will discover how each student works and focus on the individual and their pace. Students will learn until the subject matter is mastered. We offer no letter grades. Instead, we share portfolios that show each student’s mastery.
- Each student has value. Each student will be included. Each student will find joy, and trust, and safety at Willow Public School.
- Willow costs nothing. Better schools mean a better community. Studies show that the community will benefit in the long-term from positive changes and a cost reduction for community services.
- Every student will receive their very own laptop for FREE.
- We will offer a health center on campus.
- Uniforms make schools better. We will offer low-cost uniforms.
- Transportation to school will be free.
- Willow will provide tasty and healthy food, all prepared from scratch in our kitchen. Plus we’ll often grow our meals in the campus garden.
We’ll start with sixth and seventh grades. Eventually, Willow will expand to K-12.
Note: We will offer classes for parents too. Parents can close from English, computer literacy, budgeting, and more.
Note: We do not have a facility yet. And, the facility is an important KEY to enrollment.
What makes your business special among similar companies? What’s your value proposition? Who is your present competition? With whom would you like to be competing? What similar products or services are currently available and how good are they?
There are some individual teachers do a great job at every school.
Walla Walla Public Schools
Our primary competition is Walla Walla Public Schools. They are the default school “where everyone goes.” The public school system has a relatively good reputation, some excellent teachers (and some awful teachers), well-placed buildings, and a well-trained support staff. WWPS offers more electives like Band, Orchestra, and Shop. They have well-established sports programs. They have tremendous funding.
The WWPS middle schools look and feel like the high school. That can be good or bad depending on your perspective. They are a formidable foe.
Assumption and Desales — Private Schools — K-12
Assumption and Desales are Catholic schools. They are smaller than WWPS, but still have a strong football and baseball program. Desales does relationships and safety pretty well. Desales is known for tiny classes, involved parents, arts, and quality teachers.
Rodgers and Walla Walla Valley Academy — Private Schools — K-12
Rodgers and Walla Walla Valley Academy are smallish Seventh Day Adventist schools in College Place. They are known for excellent art and music programs.
Liberty Christian — Private School — K-12
Liberty Christian is a small non-denominational conservative Christian school near College Place.
Of course, there are many children enrolled in homeschool in the Walla Walla area.
How does Willow compare?
We are small and scrappy, and we must hustle. Our principal competitor is WWPS and they can fail repeatedly, we cannot fail. We have MORE oversight than the public schools because we are accountable for the success of our students. Willow will be extra. There’s nothing extra in the public school system. Our competition offers more electives that we will. However, we will have a Mariachi Band and Choir. We will have sports, and we will have exciting and fun electives.
We offer education to children of all faiths, and our boundary is massive. If you live in Washington State, your child can attend Willow. We are new. That’s good and bad…. Our team does not have experience as a team, but we do have uniquely experienced educators on our team. Dan started Palouse School 2003, so he has start-up experience too.
We must be polite to WWPS in our publications. But, we will show their numbers (and they aren’t great).
Bottom line: There is nothing like Willow in this community. We are the first school in the state to use this model in a rural community.
Target Audience & Market Realities
Who is your current primary audience (gender, age, socioeconomics, employment, geographics)? How much do they know about the product? What are their attitudes toward products or businesses like yours? What motivates them? Whom do you want your audience to be? What is your marketplace like right now? What are some trends affecting your business right now? What are opportunities you could be taking advantage of now or in the future?
Our primary target market is fifth and sixth-grade students and their parents. The public school system is failing our audience. They are students of color. They are students in poverty.
Of course, we invite every child to Willow. However, Willow is designed to appeal to:
- Kids who are in need and are not getting personal attention.
- Children from circumstances of trauma.
- Atypical learners — gifted children.
- Children who benefit from creative learning (all children). You are born with creativity and Willow will make sure you access it. We don’t drill and kill.
How about our adult audience?
- Often parents have poor English with Spanish as their primary language.
- Parents who are scared about middle school, high school, and the future.
- Parents who are disappointed in the system.
- Youngest parents are 26.
- Oldest mid-50s or Grandparents caring for children.
Note: In Latino culture, dads often make the final educational decision. Although dad gets to make the final decision, he is often away at work and uninformed about options. Kids are told to “go to school.” It appears that moms are emerging as a force. Grandmothers also sway family decisions.
The current plan is to target parents first. We will target kids as well. Sometimes our emphasis will be on kids and our appeal to their parents will follow. Education decisions are like that.
Audience Attitude: Parents and students think charter schools cost money (they don’t). Parents and students also believe that charter schools are unproven, anybody can teach there, and they’re just to make a buck. Plus charter schools are taking money from public schools, taking all the good kids, and you have to take a tough test to get in.
How will the user be better off using your product or service? Will he or she save time, effort, or money? If so, how much?
How important is this product to the consumer? Are there tradeoffs (higher quality, but higher price)? What support do you have for these claims (statistics, data, focus group results, testimonials)?
Middle school is scary. but, it doesn’t have to be.
Willow Public School students will exit middle school with a work ethic, critical thinking skills, and inspiration for high school, college, and career. These students will make the world a better place. We teach kids to inspire themselves and find their own joy independently.
Kids are better off because they will have relationship skills and an enjoyable middle-school experience. They won’t be a part of the sea of children who can earnestly say “middle school sucks.” Ultimately, Willow kids will have college or career success, and they will be happy at school (and glad to work on school projects at home). The public middle school is where you “have-to” go. Willow is where you “get-to” go.
Traditional school: Have to do. We are the “get-to” school instead of the “have-to” school.
We will educate parents about what a school can be. IMAGINE WHAT CAN A SCHOOL CAN BE. Currently, many parents and students are wearing blinders, and they see school in a single monolithic vision.
Yes, there is a tradeoff. Our program is smaller than many of our competitors, so that will mean fewer sports and fewer arts opportunities. Our school day is longer and our school year is longer (Breakfast at 8. The school day is 8:30 to 4. The after school program runs until 5.). Willow and the Willow method are unfamiliar. Familiarity is a powerful driver. Many students will have elementary school friends who attend Garrison or Pioneer middle schools That means that they won’t see those friends on a daily basis.
Parents see school as:
- A place of equality.
- A place free from language barriers.
- A place free from social barriers.
But, school is:
- Built for white and wealthy families.
- Taught for native English speakers.
- Loaded with social barriers.
Willow Public School will remove barriers and provide a high-quality education for everyone.
Note: Data is available at wacharters.org. Dan also has some striking data in his presentation.
Most Important Point (MIP)
What are the top three ranked benefits of your product or service? If you could choose only one thing the viewer remembers from your advertising, what would it be?
- Willow kids will be academically prepared kids. Your child will be ready for high school, college, and career. We will teach the twenty-first-century skills of creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, conflict-resolution, and communication. Employers and universities don’t want staff who can take tests or run a cash register. Instead, they are looking for students who have learned how to communicate, create, solve problems, and work as a group. There’s an interesting study that points out clearly that the public school system does what it was designed to do 150 years ago. It separates the wheat from the chaff instead of preparing all students for success.
- Willow kids will emerge with a strong sense of emotional intelligence. Their relationships with teachers, staff, and students will be based on trust. We will respond to student needs. Relationships, emotional connections, and safety are important. Willow Public School Students will find equity.
- Willow kids will experience joy. Students will find lessons invigorating and not boring. Imagine a custom crafted liberal arts middle school where each student will be prepared to reach for their hopes, dreams, and passions.