A Conversation with Brendan Schneider about Web-Based Marketing

A couple of weeks ago Jennifer Vigne, Director of Marketing and Development at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School (www.saintstephens.org) and I had the opportunity to interview Brendan Schneider, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Sewickley Academy (www.sewickley.org).

I was introduced to Brendan earlier this year through his blog: www.schneiderb.com. He regularly writes about his practical journey to apply social media, technology, branding and inbound marketing at Sewickley Academy. Brendan discusses how the marketing landscape has changed significantly for schools because of the Web and he provides relevant solutions that work for every private school admissions or marketing director.

One of the things I appreciate about Brendan is that he is actually involved in implementing the strategies he discusses at his school. And, these strategies are making a difference. Two  years ago he moved his school’s marketing efforts away from traditional, advertising strategies to focus on inbound marketing (I call them web-based marketing strategies).

During our conversation, Jennifer and I asked him to share with us the most important strategies for a school admissions or marketing director to consider implementing today in the world of inbound marketing.

First, Brendan suggested that one of the starting points is to understand keyword searches as it is important to understand where your school appears in searches. For example, when a prospective parent enters a search for private schools in your area, where does your school appear in the results? Research and understanding of how prospective parents will find your school on the Web and what you want to be known for are very important considerations.

Second, Brendan emphasized the need to have a blog, or several blogs, on your school’s website. Blogs can help your website with search engine optimization (SEO) by including keywords in the copy.  In addition, a blog can be a useful and dynamic tool to position your school as an educational thought leader in your area and region. At Sewickley, the school blog is used to share educational knowledge on Tuesday and then to share school stories on Friday. For example, he said that this is a great format to share interviews with new faculty in order to introduce them to the school community.

Related to blogging, Brendan also emphasized the need to focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Getting found on the Web involves much more than having a pretty website; it includes the proper SEO set-up on your website that includes page titles and on page keyword optimization.

Finally, Brendan discussed the need to use social media to help you promote your school by connecting with those who “like” you. In his experience, Brendan said that photos and videos posted on Facebook receive the best results. Utilizing social media to connect with current and prospective parents has been a central focus of his strategy.

At the end of our conversation, I asked Brendan to share with us the difference that this strategic direction has made at Sewickley. His said that his inquiries, visits, and applications are up.

I highly recommend that you subscribe to Brendan’s blog: www.schneiderb.com. You will find an archive of helpful articles for you at your school as well as his future posts that provide the relevant advice you need to move forward in your in-bound marketing effort.