When I consult with clients one-on-one through our “9 Steps to Marketing Your School” coaching program, I address school marketing at a few very fundamental levels.
First, I try and get everyone on board (myself along with the client’s entire marketing team) with a common definition of “school marketing”. My definition of school marketing goes like this:
“Getting ideal families to know, like and trust you in order to create loyal ambassadors for your school.”
You can dig a little deeper into this definition by digging way back into the School Marketing Podcast archives and listen to, “School marketing podcast #28: An Easy Definition of Marketing for Schools”.
Beyond this definition, I address 3 core areas that build on one another:
- SYSTEM – your overall marketing effort has to be built on a solid systematic way of marketing. Rather than chaotic, shoot-from-the-hip marketing, your school marketing is well-thought-out and intentional. Inside of your larger umbrella marketing system, there are plenty of micro-systems centered around social media, referrals, lead generation and nurturing, family follow-up, etc. Each one of these micro-systems has to assess the tools, finances, personnel and skills sets needed for success. Your marketing system should have a clear understanding by your entire team about how your school addresses the 3 Rs of school marketing: recruitment, retention and referrals. Without this fundamental understanding of system, you will only achieve average enrollment marketing success at best.
- STRATEGY – as the system is set in place, you can begin to determine your strategy based on your enrollment gaps and goals. While your marketing system (and all the micro-systems) are fairly consistent from year-to-year, the strategy should vary depending on where you need seats filled. Your strategy can obviously address 3-5 ideal family personas. If you do not target your personas at all, you end up with a “one-size-fits-all” marketing message that really should be renamed as “one-size-hits-small”. If you are broad and generic, your message will resonate with no one. Know the persona’s pain points and how your school is differentiated as the best solution in your local market to meet that need. Develop this “know-like-trust” effort with specific touch points to lead a potential family toward becoming one of your school’s most loyal ambassadors.
- TACTICS – the implementation part of marketing is what gets most of your attention (time and money). The “practical and tactical” make up the line items in your budget so you tend to think about these items most, but often neglect #1 and #2. If you do the former correctly, the system is in place so that a sound marketing strategy will dictate the most effective tactical implementation plan. If you are implementing the same marketing plan every year, then you are demonstrating that you have no targeted strategy.
If you find yourself focused only on the tactical plan, I would urge you to approach the upcoming school year with a different way of marketing. I offer a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation to discuss how I can help your school install a customized marketing system for your school!
The SchneiderB Virtual School Marketing Conference has become one of the premier opportunities for school marketers to learn about school marketing in a CONFERENCE format without having to leave home! Think of the costs savings for your school – no hotel, no flight, no Uber/Lyft/rentals and not near as much wasted downtime.
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OK, that’s a strange headline. Let me explain.
In the world of marketing, too many admission folks tend to dream up this idea that if we just spend the right amount of money on the slickest ad in the fanciest magazine, then enrollment will increase.
Rarely does that happen. And even if we offer a few exceptions, it is certainly not the rule and most likely you know it.
In marketing circles (and I have also adopted this concept as a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant), you will often hear marketing folks talk of this phrase:
KNOW . . . LIKE . . . TRUST
But in schools, admission folks tend to think like this:
ADVERTISE . . . APPLY
Again, going back to the very unusual title to this article, would you marry your school after the first date?
When I talk with schools about this KNOW-LIKE-TRUST, I liken it to the typical “dating” relationship. When I dated my wife, we got to KNOW each other. We subsequently spent a considerable amount of time together the next 18 months really LIKING each other (but not yet talking long-term commitment). But as we learned to TRUST one another, it became obvious. We then sealed that trust in a covenant of marriage (we celebrate 22 years this December).
Another way I have described this relationship nurturing effort is to use the alliteration of the letter “A” (I did this in a previous article with the alliteration of the letter “P”).
Perhaps this helps give you talking points with your marketing team.
Ask yourself, “how are we helping potential prospective parents become AWARE of us?”
Then ask, “if they are AWARE we exist, how are we building AFFINITY?”
Then, “what evidence can we show them that will offer them ASSURANCE that we are truly the best solution for the education of their children?” Sometimes I have said the final “A” should be “ACTION” and that is functional because it’s simply the outcome of ASSURANCE. But I do think ASSURANCE may be a more compelling word that requires us to think, “how do we give assurance to someone?” In reality, if they are “assured” then they will take action!
Here’s another article on this topic, “Why I Love My School”.
This is what I talk about with clients from Maryland to Mississippi, Atlanta to Alabama, Tennesse to right here in Texas – I would love to help you, too!
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