Here’s why you need a marketing system for your school

Before tactics, there is strategy. Before strategy, you need a marketing system for your school.

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”.

9 Steps to Marketing Your School

Beyond this definition, I address 3 core areas that build on one another:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!


School Marketing - 9 Steps

Randy Vaughn

Lessons from Jury Duty: Evidence is Essential – Part 2 of 2 (School Marketing Podcast #83)

Lessons from Jury Duty: Evidence is Essential - Part 2 of 2 (School Marketing Podcast #83)

Click to download MP3

Opening/Closing Music Credit:



Lessons from Jury Duty: Evidence is Essential – Part 1 of 2 (School Marketing Podcast #82)


Click to download MP3

Opening/Closing Music Credit:



Creating a Total Online Presence for Your School

Have you ever had this thought:

If we could just get a new website and improve our social media, we’d be fine.

First of all, I do support your efforts to get a mobile-friendly, responsive school website.

Secondly, I wholeheartedly embrace having a strong social media strategy (if you need help with this, we coach schools specifically in this area of social media for schools – click here for more information).

But in reality, your school needs a total online presence. A comprehensive, holistic effort to dominate the web, drive traffic to your site and strengthen the telling of your school’s story online.

Creating a Total Online Presence for Your School

I am a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant (since 2007) and have been trained by and collaborate with a global network of marketing consultants working in a variety of industries (I love helping the niche of private, independent and Christian schools install an effective marketing system).

In a recent blog post on the Duct Tape Marketing website, John Jantsch (founder) describes the elements of a Total Online Presence:

  • Marketing activated website
  • Content with editorial approach
  • Social media
  • Online networking
  • Email marketing
  • Search Engine Optimization

I love to help schools install an effective marketing system focused on the 3 Rs of school marketing: recruitment, retention and referrals. If I can help you focus on a total online presence, click the image below or click here to schedule your FREE phone consultation.

Get started! Randy Vaughn


Why I Love My School

Billboards, brochures and jumbo baboons on the top of buildings rarely do more catch a fleeting glance. They offer NO value, however, in convincing someone that your school is the right choice for them.

When I talk at conferences or with 1-on-1 clients, I first address a definition of “school marketing”. Since I am a Duct Tape Marketing Certified Consultant, I am borrowing a definition that goes like this:

“Getting ideal families to know, like and trust you to build loyal ambassadors for your school.”

The “know-like-trust” part of that definition is where the real challenge in marketing is. Families need evidence.

Too many schools still assume that with the perfect ad, radio spot or even Facebook campaign, that they will increase enrollment. While that may give you some results, the tried-and-true results come from a relationship building marketing effort that offers prospective parents the opportunity to get to KNOW, get to LIKE and get to TRUST you. When they reach the latter stage, they are committed to you and to you alone. That means they are ready for enrollment.

But to get to enrollment, the “KNOW” stage typically has to run through the “LIKE” stage first. Rarely does a magazine ad result in a phone call that says, “I saw your ad and we want to enroll our 5 children.” While exceptions exist, the norm is for those parents of those 5 kids to see your advertising efforts and then pursue a relationship with you. Here’s what that path might look like:

  • After the phone call, the family starts to receive regular communication via email. This is not just adding them to the “newsletter” list. This is a series of emails that are best if they are autogenerated in a series where you have a chance to build your case for your school.
  • The parents receive other forms of communication like a formal letter from the Head of School, hand-written cards from PTO, principals and parents. They may also receive a card in the mail with a Polaroid photo (yes they have made a comeback) of the student standing alongside his student tour guide during the recent tour or Open House.
  • The family gets connected via Instagram and Facebook where they see regular evidence such as “Why I Love My School” videos from students. As well, they will watch parent testimonials and regularly hear in their newsfeed from the key administrators as they speak about the core values of the school and share student and institutional successes.

These are just 3 easy ways to develop the path for a parent to move from KNOWING YOU (awareness) to LIKING YOU (affinity). This is a very commonly overlooked path. Schools assume the parent is ready to take the large leap across the pond from awareness to commitment. That rarely happens.

If you want to shore up your marketing system to ensure more parents KNOW, LIKE and ultimately TRUST you, we can help. Click the image below and read about our “9 Steps to Marketing Your School” where you will also learn how to start the conversation with us about assisting your school.

9 Steps to Marketing Your School