Every school’s marketing team must be on the same page when it comes to defining “marketing” – if not, chaos will ensue! Everyone knows we are ultimately talking about enrollment growth (“filling seats”), but the path of getting there will be challenging if the Head of School, Admissions Director, Social Media Coordinator and Marketing Team Volunteers (Parents) are all on a different wavelength in terms of what marketing is (and what it is not).
In this episode, we lay out a clear definition of marketing that applies to every school. It sets the stage for future episodes where we talk about the strategy and tactics that are essential for successful school marketing.
Most likely your school is gearing up for your next marketing and admission season. The effort to recruit and find new families is so important to the life of the school (and to your school’s budget!) We even addressed this in the recent two-part series “Attracting the Right Kinds of Families to Your School” in podcast episode #24 and #25. In episode #26, we also got a little more specific into what types of content marketing you should be producing to capture the attention of these targeted family segments.
In this episode, we talk about a number of fresh ideas you can use BEFORE, DURING and AFTER your next Open House, Preview Night, or other Admission event on your campus.
Still one of the best ways to market your school is the consistent use of email marketing. “I don’t think our emails garner much attention,” you might suggest? In another recent post, I suggest a few important reasons why your school’s current email marketing system is NOT working well.
The point of great content is to make your case inside somewhat neutral content (heavily slanted toward your school’s greatness, but not overly promotional) while capturing the prospective’s email address in the process. This ensures you grow your email list which allows you to reach a greater number of people.
Below I categorize the headlines to give you different ways to think about this kind of content. In this article, I offer some ideas for magnetic opt-in content that your prospective families will crave and click on: (more…)
Most schools I consult with tell me that they are using email to communicate with families. At which point I ask, “which ones?”
If you are using Constant Contact or some other email marketing provider to communicate only with your internal families, that’s OK, but that is more about communication and less about marketing. Yes, good communication is vital for retention efforts (one of the reasons families often give for leaving a school is poor communication). But I’m talking about reaching out regularly with prospective families.
Here are 5 tips you want to consider with your email marketing:
- THINK LIKE A PUBLISHER: just like anything having to do with marketing, it is best to make sure it operates like a system. The “hit-or-miss” strategies you have used are no longer effective. Make your email marketing work on a calendar. Work with your creative team (staff and/or volunteers) to look at your school calendar and create email marketing messages around attractional events (sports, theater, etc), marketing events (open houses, preview nights, etc.) as well as community events that showcase your involvement in the town at large (Christmas shoe drive, Spring Break food pantry assistance, etc.) Holiday themed messages are appropriate as well. Think more like a magazine publisher and start capturing and creating high value content for these monthly or bi-weekly messages. For your December email marketing newsletter to prospectives, for example, you need to be gathering the content in October.
- BE USEFUL: (more…)
I have been working in advertising for private schools for over 10 years. I visited about 100 schools this past year. Our initial visit is first and foremost to establish relationships with the school, learn about what makes them different, and hear what their needs are. I get to meet all kinds of people answering the telephones and working at the front desk. This person is one of the most important representatives of your school.
Last week I had an experience that illustrates the importance of basic customer service with front desk personnel. I had in my calendar a meeting with “ABC High School” (we’ll call it that for privacy reasons). I wanted to confirm the visit especially since it was the Tuesday after a 3 day weekend and a 50 mile round trip. I called the administrator and got her voice mail. I even called administrators in adjoining offices. None of them were in either. I called back again to the secretary to explain my dilemma, that I was driving 50 miles and wanted to confirm the meeting but could not find the administrator. She let me know that the administrator would call me back within a few hours. Not wanting to miss the scheduled meeting, I drove to the school. When I arrived the secretary called the administrator to let her know I was there. The secretary proceeded to tell me very rudely that the administrator had only 10 minutes to meet with me. She was the same person I spoke with in the morning. I perceived that my multiple phone calls an hour earlier had disrupted her routine. I felt discouraged and very unwelcomed after all the work I had done to secure the appointment.
Being that it is my business to connect with schools, I bypassed the sour experience and made the most of it. Fortunately, the administrator had good follow up.
Nonetheless, it exemplifies that your front desk/phone person is such an important part of your recruitment. People in sales such as advertisers or book consultants are just as important as prospective parents. A bad experience with even the front desk person can leave a lasting impression. And it likely will get talked about. It is even worse when it’s a prospective or current parent or even another administrator.
When schools approach me for marketing consulting, I always ask them to evaluate their secretary and/or front desk personnel. This person is vital to maintaining a healthy and positive customer service experience to ALL people that connect with the school. Front desk personnel/secretaries can do their part by making sure courtesy is extended to all guests. Your guests will feel appreciated and well taken care of. That way the really hard work we do for recruitment does not get lost by a single bad experience.
Mia Johnstone is Publisher of the Los Angeles Private School Guide www.findaprivateschool.org. She loves building relationships with schools, visiting campuses, and finding great things about them. She also consults with private schools on marketing and growth strategies. Read about school marketing and advertising tips on her blog at www.lapsgnetwork.com.
Mia recently wrote a great article for AISAP, “6 Tips on How to Create Positive and Lasting Relationships with Feeder School Administrators“. Follow Mia on Twitter.