3 Key Ingredients for Effective School Marketing
In today’s private, independent and faith-based schools, marketing is critical to enrollment growth.
I am often asked about the main functions of the staff dedicated to marketing. Whether you have a full-time marketing director, or this function is combined in another position, it is important for you to focus on the following three key ingredients:
1. Lead Generation
Lead generation is the primary activity that leads to prospective parents calling, emailing, completing your call-to-action form, or visiting campus. It is the strategy that moves a parent to take the first step and express interest in your school.
Who is responsible for generating leads for enrollment in your school?
If you have a marketing director, this person should be partially responsible.
While the admissions director is also involved in generating leads through feeder school contacts and parent ambassador programs, the marketing director must be focused on this effort. The marketing director should lead the Inbound Marketing strategy with the main purposes of generating leads for the admissions effort.
I have been involved in many conversations with school leaders where this isn’t taking place. The marketing director may be involved in placing ads or designing newsletters. However, the marketing director may not understand the importance of generating admissions leads. Sometimes this occurs because the marketing director does not have the know-how or is reporting to the development/advancement director where this isn’t a priority.
Lead generation is a key ingredient that must be part of your school’s marketing effort.
The marketing director, or the person responsible for marketing, should also be the chief storyteller of your school. The reality is that outstanding stories occur everyday in your school. The marketing director must work to collect and tell these stories, especially online. As these stories are collected, they can be communicated on the school’s website and in social media.
The irony is that we have the opportunity to communicate any story about our school in real-time, 24/7. While this takes work and effort, I believe that this should be the priority for a marketing director and a key ingredient to your marketing effort.
School marketing leaders must be effective storytellers. These stories should be told through written word, photos, videos and more. Through these stories, the marketing director will work to bring the school to life. As the prospective parent is drawn into the story that is being told, they can then see themselves in the story.
3. Brand Awareness
Finally, it is important for your school to be visible in the community. Just recently I saw a school advertise themselves as the “best kept secret” in their community. Isn’t it ironic that the school was using this message on their website? The issue is that you don’t want to be a secret. Your goal is to provide visibility for your school.
I believe that when a marketing director is successful in lead generation and storytelling, then this will lead to visibility of your school’s brand in the community. This may mean creating additional awareness through traditional advertising strategies such as billboards and radio ads. However, as I have discussed before, these strategies are costly and typically ineffective.
I believe that school marketing directors should focus their brand awareness efforts on effective lead generation and storytelling strategies. If a marketing director is finding her or his time focused on graphic design placement rather than on these strategies, I can almost predict the ineffectiveness of the marketing effort.
Are you focused on these three key ingredients in your school’s marketing effort?