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!
Over the years of working with Christian schools around the country, we have worked with schools from early childhood only to PK12 schools. In doing so, I have worked with schools in a variety of ways. Sometimes it has been a few short months of social media coaching, graphic design or website projects, or our longer year-long consulting projects.
One of the things I really enjoy doing is spending a day with a school during a School Marketing Workshop. As a matter of fact, one of the first ways we ever helped schools was with a one-day workshop back over a decade ago which resulted in the school’s first enrollment growth in a long time.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Cornerstone Christian in Sweetwater, Texas. We did a one-day workshop on a Saturday and it was so much fun! Stephanie Baker, Director, said this:
“We loved your presentation…. It was very informative and helpful. It was just the booster shot that we needed to get started and it was presented in such a way that gave us a clear starting place.”
You might wonder what all can really be accomplished in a single day workshop? Here are the key components we covered at the School Marketing Workshop in Sweetwater:
- Came to an agreed definition of school marketing so that the entire team could rally around one idea of what marketing is, allowing this definition to act as a filter for future projects, spending and focus.
- Discovered the 3 most important areas when developing a relationship with a future family. These are 3 key components to the above definition and help focus a school on marketing the right way.
- We examined the full scope of school marketing, looking at the very early stages of new awareness all the way to cultivating family referrals. There are many steps in this process, and while complex, it is not complicated. We examined the 3 Rs of school marketing: recruitment, retention and referrals.
- We also explored the differences and essential elements of having a system, a strategy and a tactical marketing plan. We looked at the differences in those terms and how each one builds upon another.
- We went through a pretty extensive exercise in determining what an “ideal family” looks like in terms of marketing. If you do not have a clear focus of who you are marketing to, it’s easy for your communication to be for the masses, and thus, likely resonate with no one. We explored the components of a targeted ideal family category to help focus our communication, brand, and marketing messages.
- We looked at the 6 most common lead generation tactics. Lead generation is necessary as your school enlarges the pool of potential families. Most of the time, the challenge in marketing a school is that too few people even know you exist. Expanding this pool to more possibilities is a strong key to enrollment growth.
We spend several hours brainstorming as a large group, then in table groups to determine specific action steps. While a good part of the morning of a School Marketing Workshop is understanding strategy, we do spend hours working together on at least a workable tactical action plan.
So that’s an overview of how a School Marketing Workshop could help your school. I am available for scheduling even in the month of May and throughout the summer months (I’ll be on a mission trip for a week or so in June, so let’s get it scheduled soon!)
Use the contact form here to ask about details. Typically the workshop is around $2,000 but some travel expenses may need to be added depending on the distance traveled. I’m flexible and open to negotiating on your budget. Let’s talk!
Randy Vaughn, Christian School Marketing Consultant
One of the ways that schools are increasingly finding creative ways to showcase their school is using Facebook Live.
I love this tool, even though I certainly don’t like being on video myself. However, that should not deter you from experimenting. Below you will find a variety of ways that schools might want to use Facebook Live:
- In the classroom – train teachers (and make them an admin of your page) so they can create spontaneous snapshots of something they are doing in the classroom. Perhaps they are about to engage in a project that traditional only been for the students’ eyes, but Facebook Live allows you to bring in their families and even future families, too. Even some of your older elementary kids are savvy enough to point the phone in the direction of the 5th grade teacher doing a fun science experiment.
- in chapel or assembly – Christian schools have regular worship times and this is a neat way for schools to let parents in on the experience. Again, even your future families want to know what chapel is like. Perhaps you assemble the school for announcements, awards or other accolades – give your at-home or working moms and dads an opportunity to be a part of the special day by turning on Facebook Live.
- from the top – Facebook Live can be a fantastic way for heads of school to be more visible. They can articulate a vision, interview students or just do a student or teacher feature of the week.
- longer shows – you may wish to turn on Facebook Live for Grandparents Day, Homecoming pep rally, the out-of-town playoff game, or even the spring choir concert. For the latter (including any fine art performances, just ensure you are not violating any copyright by broadcasting your show.
- parent perspective – have a parent run Facebook Live periodically, allowing them to interview faculty, some older students or even other moms and dads during the pick up line. Coach them on representing the school appropriately. If done right, this could give you a great tool for interested future moms and dads because they might presume the parent is more authentic than the admissions teach might be.
Facebook Live is also one of the areas that Facebook is suggesting you use more and more in order to be seen in the news feed. So this is definitely worth exploring. We have a webinar on February 22nd that outlines all the 2018 Facebook Changes, so click the link below to receive full access to this FREE webinar.
CLICK TO REGISTER FOR THE FREE WEBINAR, “2018 Facebook Changes”