Opinion: A Lack of Positioning Has Been a Major Issue for MCS

Muncie Central High School. Photo by: Mike RhodesMuncie Central High School. Photo by: Mike Rhodes

By: Tom Farris—

During my 55 years as a marketing professional based in Muncie, I’ve worked with my clients to position their businesses, products  and services.  Marketing positioning refers to the ability to influence customer perceptions regarding a brand or product in a positive way relative to its competitors.  Types of positioning strategies include: (1) products/services quality ; (2) products/services features, attributes and benefits; (3) products/services pricing ; (4) products/services uses/outcomes ; and (5) competitors — differentiating your products/services from the competition.

If you don’t position your company/products/services, you run the risk of the competition and/or other sources positioning your product/services for you —usually in a negative way —whether it be intentional or not.  Then you have a problem to address.

From my viewpoint, this is what has been happening to the MCS for the past 25 years or so.  MCS has done zero visible marketing or positioning to promote its features, benefits, how it is different than other area schools and to distinguish itself from the competition.  So, the public’s perception of MCS has been established or positioned in a negative (often unfounded) spotlight by the local newspaper, other newspapers and Indianapolis TV stations, continuing to focus on the negative.  The MCS cash crisis, mis-use of bond funds, fights, guns, etc. has nothing to do with the quality of the educational outcomes being produced, but the ongoing public perception had already been established that MCS schools aren’t good — don’t let your kids attend MCS, move, get out of town…

Several years ago, I researched the $ amount of scholarships awarded to MCHS graduates, the impressive list of colleges they would attend and publicized this information to the community.  People were shocked and amazed – as they had been believing the mis-perceptions established by the media.  And MCS never fought back —allowing the negative positioning to continue, resulting in students transferring out, families relocating to other “better” districts. or not to live in Muncie.

Great educational resources and expertise exist. Now is the time, better late than never, to POSITION MCS in a leadership position.

1) Identify the MCS current market position; (2) research and analyze competitor’s positioning (real or perceived – as most probably do not have a positioning initiative in place); (3) determine MCS’s uniqueness, advantages and ways in which MCS is different in a positive light; (4) develop and implement a re-positioning/positioning strategy – it can be an element of of your brand MCS branding.

MCS must take control of their own image through positioning, branding and continual communications with students, families, local centers of influence and stakeholders of all types.