Five different schools, one common position in marketing

Gone are the days when a school could rely only on word-of-mouth marketing and families would line up to enroll at our school. Here are the days when we must be intentional and proactive in our marketing effort and should make it a priority to hire an administrative position focused on marketing.

Earlier this week I met with five marketing directors from five different schools in the Southeast. These schools ranged in size from nearly 200 to over 1,000 students and in type from independent to faith-based. While the schools and the challenges were very different, the common thread was their concern and focus on marketing. This landscape has changed in recent years. As you might expect, the larger independent school had a marketing and communication’s department of four full-time staffers. As a boarding and day school, they attract students not only from their local area but from many states as well as countries abroad. For the three large faith-based schools, they had at least one staff position committed to the marketing effort. This person works alongside of the admissions and development team to lead the marketing effort.

The real surprise was the small school with a recent part-time hire in marketing. Because of a significant decline in the enrollment from negativity connected with a board blow-up a few years ago, the leadership decided that this position was essential to moving the school forward.

This is a very wise decision, not only for the larger schools but also for the smaller one. Marketing is something that doesn’t just happen automatically. It is an intentional and proactive effort. While everyone on staff at the school is a marketer, the charge must be led by someone and the plan must be implemented consistently in order for the effort to be effective. And now, marketing is much more than placing a few ads; it includes both internal and external marketing, with internal marketing being the most important area to focus. Marketing has a dramatic affects on the school’s bottom line–enrollment and revenue.

Certainly your school’s budget might be tight in this economy. However, if you haven’t done so already, you need someone to focus on your marketing effort and to implement the plan. You need a dedicated position and someone that can deliver and reach the goals you establish.

It’s time to take this important step in 2010 or your school may be left in the dust in future years. And if you are already there, it’s important that you continue to direct resources this way. Marketing, and its administrative responsibility, is here to stay!