February 3, 2019

A Simple Marketing Plan that Works for Most Schools


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Why Schools Need Marketing Today

You know the world is changing when you see K-12 schools develop  marketing savvy.

There was a time when schools thought marketing was unnecessary. This was the time when over 50% of households had children attending schools. In 1963, for instance, 57% of American families had children under age 18 in the home. In 2017, the percentage of families with their own children under age 18 dropped to 41.4%.

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Along with changing demographics, we have an ever-expanding social media universe influencing schools and students like never before. Unlike baby boomers, millennial parents are more tech-savvy and they value openness and transparency more than their predecessors. They expect these qualities in their businesses and their schools.

Schools are having a hard time admitting and retaining students because of shrinking family sizes and changing social trends. There are 13 different types of schools across America. Most of them are already using, or are considering, marketing options to engage with students and parents.

School marketing, despite the discomfort of teachers and administrators, has become a necessity.

A Simple Marketing Plan that Works for Most Schools

If you wish there was a marketing plan you could pluck straight off a webpage and implement in your school, today is your lucky day! The following five steps will show you how easy it can be to implement a marketing plan for your school.

1. Identify Your Goals

The overarching goal of school marketing is to attract and retain more students. Schools may adopt different marketing approaches to achieve this long-term goal, but each one of these plans utilizes specific objectives or sub-goals.

For example, one of your sub-goals may be to use a website to promote your school. To achieve this goal, you may need a web development plan before launching the website. If you already have a website and your goal is to increase visitors, you may need to look into SEO and PPC options to see if they are right for you.

Other sub-goals may include:

  • Recruit candidates for admission using social media
  • Build a positive image of the school by nurturing community relationships
  • Make effective use of digital media to deliver targeted messages to students and parents

Brainstorm your long-term, annual, and short-term goals before planning or doing anything. Make sure any new plans are aligned with the school’s primary strategic objective of educating more students.

2. Revamp Your Website

An effective website is the hub of most marketing activities. A modern, attractive, and responsive website design creates a positive image of your school and instills trust. Just as with any business, consumers and parents alike will have a hard time putting their trust in a school with an outdated and broken website.

If you’re like most schools, your website probably has a lot of room for improvement. There are typically six major problems school websites have in common:

  • Outdated or Wrong Information: The website is the first place parents will look to ascertain your credibility. If the information is missing or wrong--or hard to find--they’ll have a poor image of the school.
  • Not Addressing Parent Concerns: Does your website involve parents and address their most pressing concerns, such as bullying or gun violence? Most school websites do a good job of showcasing school activities and student achievements, but make no mention of parents—the target customers.
  • Poor Design: Does a visit to your website feel like you’re taking a bad trip down memory lane to the 1990s? Many school websites lack the native look and feel of modern apps and still have outdated elements like 3D navigation buttons, Java, or Flash.
  • Not Mobile Friendly: Most Americans now use mobile devices to browse the web. If your website doesn’t display properly across all devices, it needs to be fixed.
  • Bad Copywriting: Some businesses may get away with typos, spelling errors, and grammar mistakes on their websites—not schools! The copy on your website must be immaculate.
  • Lack of Interactivity: Millennial parents prefer to find information, apply for admission, and interact with the school without assistance or hassle. Modern websites should offer helpful and interactive functionality options such as contact forms, click-to-call, document submission, and live chat.

If you feel your school’s website has some of the shortcomings mentioned above, it’s time for an update. Contact Josh Meah for a free consultation regarding how we can help schools align their websites with the latest digital trends, and most importantly, their education goals.

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Blake, a PK-12 independent school, sports a modern, minimalist web design.

3. Let Social Media Work for You

Schools are reluctant to use social media because they know it might open the floodgates of parents’ and students’ opinions and criticism. However, closing your eyes doesn’t change the reality. You’ll be mentioned on social media regardless of whether you’re present there or not.

Having a strong social media presence allows you to engage with parents and learn more about what they want from your school. You can address their concerns and be seen as a socially-responsive and engaged brand, as opposed to an outdated, secretive school that doesn’t seem to care.

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New Life Academy of Woodbury, MN, posts Facebook updates about parents’ key concerns.

Facebook is the obvious first choice because of its 204 million American users. If you have the time and resources, it’s a great idea to be present on Instagram and Twitter, too. These are the channels that students and parents use most frequently.

Each one of these channels requires a dedicated social media strategy. Here are a few tips that generally work well across all channels.

  • Complete your social media profiles using interesting photos and compelling copy. Include an attractive logo and cover image, contact info, and website address.
  • Post regular and timely updates. Find out when most of your followers are online and post regularly at those times.
  • Include captivating, high-quality images with posts to make them 650% more engaging than text-only updates.
  • Add video to updates. Videos are the most popular type of content on Facebook and attract 3x more shares than text-only posts.
  • Use the 80/20 rule. Create 20% of the content you share and source 80% of it from other websites and blogs. Similarly, only 20% of your updates should be about the school, and 80% of them should pertain to subjects parents and students are likely to find interesting.

Respond quickly to negative feedback and criticism by allaying complainants’ concerns and improving the corresponding areas of service when appropriate.

St Anne’s-Belfield shares school activities via Instagram.

4. Harness the Power of Multichannel Marketing

Being present on multiple channels makes a school look good and expands its marketing reach. If your school already has a website and social media presence, consider adding more channels to reach more people. Email, mobile, print, events, displays, and direct marketing typically work best for schools.

It’s important to integrate as many channels as you can manage, and use them in a consistent and coordinated manner. For example, if you want to run a marketing campaign for an upcoming event, announce the event on your website and Facebook, send email reminders, and text informative messages to those subscribed to your mailing list.

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Your audience takes a multichannel path before deciding to apply for admission to a particular school. A multichannel online presence is therefore essential. According to new research, companies and schools, can increase revenue by 9.5% and decrease cost per lead by 7.5% by employing a strong multichannel strategy.

5. Measure Progress

It’s important to select your key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure them regularly as you implement any new school marketing plans or campaigns. Some of these KPIs include:

  • Website visitors (impressions)
  • Number of leads
  • Traffic-to-lead ratio
  • Cost per lead
  • Total admissions
  • Lead-to-admission ratio
  • Cost per admission
  • Customer (student) lifetime value

Measuring these KPIs will allow you to identify weak areas in the marketing strategy and make improvements. Free and paid tools are available to track progress on different marketing channels.

For example, Google Analytics measures website traffic and conversions, and Facebook Insights measures the engagement and reach of your posts. Schools wishing to run more extensive marketing campaigns should use CRM software to have all customer data and tracking metrics consolidated in one place.

Should Schools Outsource Digital Marketing Services?

Schools are sacred places where the future of children and civilizations takes shape. Teachers and administrators usually don’t have the focus, interest, and expertise to impart education and market education at the same time.

One option is to hire new employees. However, did you know the average salary of a digital marketing manager is around $100,000 a year? Even with this new hire, you may still need to hire additional people or outsource certain services to accomplish all of your goals.

By comparison, a school marketing consultancy offers more expertise, resources, and services for a fraction of that cost. A professional company like JoshMeah.com has a ready pool of human and technological resources that you can access with zero capital expenditure and no overhead costs.
Contact JoshMeah.com today for a free consultation regarding your school marketing plan.

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