AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the last six months the Austin Independent School District has spent $850,000 on an outside marketing campaign.
It’s the first of its kind for AISD which is projected to lose up to 6,000 students over the next 10 years.
The district cites several reasons including rising home prices pushing families to the suburbs, and losing students to charter schools.
Growing charter school IDEA Austin has hit the Austin audience hard with advertising, and paid big bucks for TV ads to spread their motto of “College for All Children.”
“The Austin school district really does find itself in a competitive situation,” said Reyne Telles, the Executive Director of Community Engagement. “We were not in the game, and now we are.”
Austin ISD’s messaging is a little different.
A billboard on I-35 that’s supposed to point people to the district website says, “Come for the weird. Stay for the smart.”
Another one on Highway 183 says, “Austin. Known for skinny jeans and smarty pants.”
“Part of marketing and part of messaging is to get folks talking,” said Telles.
The billboards are just one piece of a larger puzzle. Over the street banners and print ads were aimed at attracting families to the district as a whole.
AISD also used micro marketing to focus on 30 schools with space to fill.
“Every student you’re able to put into the seat for enrollment means more dollars for the district in order to operate,” said Telles.
Outside marketing companies tested the audience to find out what would resonate most with families in specific neighborhoods. Teams hit homes for three weeks straight with three different door hangers with information about the district’s success and instruction on how to enroll.
The district also ran radio ads on both Spanish and English stations.
A polling service that helped with the campaign is checking with families to see if the messaging resonated, and whether or not it led them to enroll students in AISD.
AISD Board President Kendall Pace told KXAN the board has not had a chance to talk about the marketing campaign since it rolled out.
“We can’t judge the impact until school starts,” said Pace.