“I’m not only the president…I’m also a client”
– Sy Sperling, president, Hair Club for Men ca. 1989
There is no greater endorsement of a product than your own personal investment in it. When I started working as the senior communications associate at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, a US Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence that serves 900+ students, I was familiar with its reputation as an outstanding independent Jewish school. Once I got there, I saw why.
How do you effectively sell a product that you haven’t bought, especially when you are the target audience?
At that point, my own children were enrolled at a different school. The longer I worked at BT, the more I appreciated the quality of the education the school offered, the more I wanted my own children to benefit from that kind of educational environment. Their transfer to BT changed their lives…and mine.
I was no longer just a communications associate…I was now also a client.
I then truly began to understand the school’s mission — “Learning together. For life.” — from a whole new perspective — not just as a communications professional who promotes the brand to current and prospective parents, but as a parent watching her children flourish academically, socially and spiritually while being welcomed into the community as a fellow parent, not just as a staff member. That experience transformed my role as a communications professional, allowing me to not just promote school’s brand, but to tell its story, understanding its value and impact from the perspective of the people we’re trying to reach: parents.
Moving Through the Funnel
Beth Tfiloh is not only an independent Jewish school, it is also the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in the United States. While I transferred my girls to the school three years ago, I was still a member at another synagogue a mile away. Balancing the marketing demands of a large school is enough to keep me busy — add in the needs of a large synagogue, it can be quite a challenge.
Each weekend, the synagogue offers a multitude of programs for children, pre-teens, teens and adults, all designed to help them experience the beauty and meaning of the Jewish Sabbath in a personal, warm way, regardless of their level of religious affiliation. Some weekends, there are communal meals; others offer a different style of prayer or a guest speaker addressing a hot topic in the Jewish community. Each initiative aims to bring in community members and make them feel at home.
Before I was a member, I promoted those services mechanically, without any personal understanding or connection. Once I joined and started attending services regularly, I saw the energy and excitement both kids and adults alike felt about Sabbath services, and the sense of community created through those services. I’m not just selling a religious service; I’m inviting others to share in what I experience each week. That connection informs my communication strategies and implementation, making me a more effective communicator while also helping me grow professionally — today, I am Beth Tfiloh’s Assistant Director of Communications.
The Lesson: Buy In!
If you are going to devote 8+ hours a day to selling a product or service, find one that you can really get behind personally. Your message will be far more compelling and authentic if you are a satisfied customer — or volunteer, or donor — than if you are just killing 8 hours a day to earn a paycheck.
Rina Goloskov is the Assistant Director of Communications at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School/Beth Tfiloh Congregation, using her nearly two decades of communications experience to manage the brand of both a US Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence that serves 900+ students, as well as a 2,000-family Jewish congregation, across multiple marketing channels: website, social media, print and radio advertising, direct mail, and e-mail. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Touro College and is currently pursuing a combined MA in Communications and Certificate in Non-Profit Management at Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs. Contact or network with her on LinkedIn.