Is Print Dead?

This is a great question.

In fact, I am often asked if print advertising in newspapers and magazines as well as printed marketing materials is dead for marketing private schools.

My response? Yes and No.

Let me explain.

In regards to print advertising, I believe school leaders must shift their strategies from allocating marketing resources from traditional print mediums to web-based strategies. These traditional methods have relied upon interruptive advertising such as print ads in newspapers and magazines, direct mail and billboards. While these print strategies can provide some brand awareness for your school, rarely do they generate direct inquiries.

Also, in order for this form of advertising to work, you will need to devote significant resources to print campaigns. Therefore, spending your limited marketing resources on print ads must now shift to web-based marketing. With the power of web-based marketing, you will receive instant feedback and data from your campaigns rather than experiencing the unknown effectiveness of print advertising.

In regards to printed marketing materials, I believe that there is still a need.  It is important to have a quality brochure and admissions packet that you can use in your recruitment effort. Typically, a multi-panel brochure or viewbook and pocket folder will be the key materials that you will need. Of course, this depends on your market and the types of pieces that you find your competition using.

These printed pieces can be used to mail to prospective families as well as to hand out to your parents, feeder schools and other community contacts. I believe that prospective parents still enjoy holding and looking at a brochure. You will also need to put your brochure online in a flip-book format. However, even before you develop an outstanding brochure, it is critical for you to devote your resources to a first-class website. This is the priority.

Back to the question: Is print dead?

Not yet but almost.

While I do believe that print advertising is the least effective form of advertising, I do think there is a limited place in your school’s marketing strategy—you will need printed marketing materials and an ad in a few key publications in your market.

As you work on your marketing budget for the 2011-12 school year, you will want to shift your dollars from print ads to web-based strategies. This may take courage to convince your school leadership to move away from what they have known to a world that is unknown to them.

It’s time to make some tough decisions to eliminate ads that don’t generate inquiries and to channel your limited dollars to the web.

It’s time to embrace the new way to market your school rather than investing in traditional strategies.