Saint Ignatius

thunder::tech helped a private high school develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to ensure strong enrollment for decades to come


Saint Ignatius is a private all-boys Catholic high school located in Cleveland, Ohio. For more than 130 years, the school has offered challenging academic instruction to young men of diverse backgrounds to help them learn, grow and serve—to become “Men for Others” in the Jesuit tradition.
Enrollment for the school is very competitive, with a number of highly qualified students turned away every year. However, the school took note of the number of Catholic elementary and middle schools that were consolidating or closing in the region and began to anticipate a time when these “feeder schools” could no longer provide the students needed to maintain robust enrollment.
Facing the realities of the situation, Saint Ignatius committed to a proactive approach to recruitment. The school began to make plans to build a strong pipeline of prospective students from a variety of schools—religious and public—to ensure strong future enrollment numbers.
Saint Ignatius conducted a wide agency review before selecting thunder::tech to be its strategic partner to help accelerate the school into the future.

Creating the digital homeroom for the campaign

thunder::tech immediately got to work and began to develop a forward-facing, strategic marketing plan to address student enrollment. The first step was to review the current state of the brand to gain insight into any public perceptions about Saint Ignatius. thunder::tech began a rigorous evaluation of the school’s traditional and digital marketing properties, reviewing the website, social media channels and all marketing collateral including brochures, Saint Ignatius Magazine, new student orientation materials and print advertisements.
It was quickly identified that the website was outdated and didn’t represent the innovative and engaging nature of the school. This created an obstacle to effectively and efficiently connect with potential students, parents and administrators.
The website redesign began by re-evaluating the content strategy and streamlining the navigation to make it as easy as possible for current and potential students, parents and alumni to find the information they need.
All content was reviewed and thunder::tech collaborated with the Saint Ignatius marketing team to ensure the new content was fresh, relevant and supported the emerging marketing strategy.
For the visual design , thunder::tech leveraged the blue and gold school colors while bringing in new textures to add depth and visual interest to the page. Cinematic photography of students, teachers and the beautiful grounds was used throughout to help tell the story of the school, its programs and its mission of creating “Men for Others.”
Once launched, the new served as the robust digital hub for all communications and marketing initiatives.

Expanding the school’s reach
While the new website was being designed, thunder::tech worked in parallel on the long term strategic plan.

A comprehensive audit helped thunder::tech identify common themes around why students and families might not include Saint Ignatius in their high school consideration set. thunder::tech found that while the existing content did a great job of communicating to audiences who already know about Saint Ignatius, there was an opportunity to develop content to help create inroads into public schools, develop deeper relationships with administrators and teachers and increase awareness about the school.
Putting faces to personas

Armed with this information and data coupled with insights provided by Saint Ignatius alumni, faculty and staff, thunder::tech identified four key categories of potential students.

  • Persona #1: Students who “walk the path” toward Saint Ignatius High School, that is, boys who have attended Catholic schools throughout their elementary and secondary education and planned on attending Saint Ignatius.

  • Persona #2: Students who “know the path” to Saint Ignatius. These students may or may not have attended Catholic schools for elementary and middle schools but always planned on attending Saint Ignatius for high school.

  • Persona #3: Students who “seek the path” to Saint Ignatius. These are students who have always attended public schools but who had become disillusioned and seek a better alternative. Saint Ignatius becomes part of their consideration set when they research other high school options.

  • Persona #4: Students walking “the unknown path,” meaning they have always attended public schools and planned on doing the same for high school. There was an opportunity for Saint Ignatius to provide these students a more academically challenging alternative for their final four years—if they could connect with them early enough in their schooling.

Each of the four personas provided information and insight into the mindset and behaviors of the student, including how he first became aware of Saint Ignatius, what factors motivated him and what hurdles stood in the way.
Messaging, outreach and next steps

After the personas were developed, thunder::tech created the strategic messaging architecture to convey the school’s communication priorities and goals as each related to specific audiences. These messaging standards served as a guide for the Saint Ignatius team as they developed new content to address concerns about accessibility, inclusivity, community service, religion and academics.
With a solid plan, thunder::tech joined the Saint Ignatius marketing team in explaining and selling-in the plan to the school’s administration. The plan was approved to move forward in phases, with the next phase (after website launch) being an entirely new collateral system.
thunder::tech wrote and designed an elegant "lookbook" that served as a general brochure to promote the school. Thousands were printed and distributed at open houses, shadowing days, summer camps and other strategic events. A new folder system designed by thunder::tech was provided as follow-up material to interested families.
The long-term strategic plan in combination with the new website and collateral allowed the school to engage with new audiences and tell the school’s unique story. thunder::tech also identified strategic partnerships and opportunities for Saint Ignatius to take advantage of in the short term while simultaneously building a long-term recruitment strategy to ensure the school was well-positioned for future.

Want to learn more? thunder::tech can help you with website design, research, strategy, persona development, campaign creation and more. Contact us today!

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