How are you unboxing your school?

You may never have heard of it, but “unboxing” is not only all over YouTube, it may be a great way of achieving marketing success at your independent school.

There’s a video on YouTube that shows a pair of hands unpacking five cartoon branded plastic eggs each with a toy surprise inside. No big deal. There are billions of videos on You Tube. But get this. This video has over 93 million views. Now that’s a big deal.

It’s all part of a phenomenon called “unboxing” that I recently discovered after listening to an interview with Mireille Silcoff who wrote an article about it for the New York Times. There are thousands of unboxing videos on YouTube. You can watch people unpacking everything from high tech gadgets to cosmetics to toys. Wikipedia even has an entry for unboxing.

What’s going on here? Why would millions of people watch someone else unpack something?

The process of unpacking something you have just bought is a very visceral experience.  It’s pure emotion – excitement, expectation, pride of ownership. There is great anticipation. That first look at or feel of whatever is in the box can be a “oh wow!” kind of moment. And it’s so powerful that people love to watch other people unpack things. Think about birthdays or Christmas and watching someone unwrap a gift. There aren’t many other events that can provide such vicarious enjoyment.

From a marketing perspective, it’s one more reminder that sales is a transfer of emotion and that people don’t just want to buy a product – they want to have an experience. The best marketers meticulously consider those first moments that a customer spends with a product to ensure that the unboxing experience is not only fantastic but is consistent with the overall brand experience of the company.

So, here’s the question. Can the unboxing experience be replicated in independent schools? Are there interaction points and special moments or milestones that can effectively be unboxed?

Here’s one. When a student is accepted, the package that is sent to parents is an obvious unboxing opportunity. What does the envelope look like? Does it have to be an envelope? What’s the first thing that is visible when the package is opened and how does that shape the experience you are trying to create? Does it create a sense of excitement, pride and maybe even accomplishment? Is there something in the package for the student? Perhaps there should be a separate student package. If you don’t have a formal acceptance package, maybe you should create one just for the purpose of creating an experience. If your acceptance process is finalized online, there are ways of creating a web-based or email based unboxing experience. Acceptance is a key moment in the sales process. You want to completely validate the choice that parents have made and align it with your school’s brand.

Another possibility. A child’s first day of school is a watershed moment for parents. Tapping into that emotion and making it an essential part of their experience with their new school can be very powerful. How can you unbox that experience? Perhaps parents with first-time school goers can receive a kit in advance with helpful information and useful things like labels or tags as well as something for kids like stickers. Maybe it comes in a box or a special folder that identifies it as something the school has specially created for first-time school parents.

Here’s a related possibility. Every moment of a child’s first day of school is a real-time unboxing experience filled with awe and wonder. What if you use video to capture some of those moments and send it to parents. I saw a news segment the other day about a parent that had strapped a GoPro camera to her child’s chest so that she could experience her daughter’s first day of school. It’s a little extreme but there’s no question that it reflects one parent’s desire to vicariously be part of her child’s first-day unboxing experience.

Once you get comfortable with the premise, I’ll bet there are dozens of unboxing experiences that you can create in your schools – from things as momentous as grade 1 graduation to those as mundane as tuition packages.

The key is to always think about parents as customers and look for the ways in which you can create validating experiences that reinforce your school’s brand. 

What do you think?

Is it possible to create unboxing experiences? Have you created unboxing experiences in your school? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Contact us. We’d love to make marketing work for you.