Most small schools do not have room in their budget for a full-time marketing person. So marketing tasks such as they are are rolled into somebody else's portfolio. This article is aimed at those incredibly multi-faceted professionals who have to juggle dozens of deadlines every day and still do a superlative job.
What kinds of resources do you need to help you market your school effectively? Let's begin with consultants, books, blogs and affinity groups. We shall look at each resource and see how it fits into your school's budget and your schedule.
Having an expert review your marketing strategy is like going to the doctor. It will cost you some money, perhaps even a lot of money, but you will have the benefit of years of professional experience and expertise when the consultant makes her recommendations. As a rule, hiring a consultant is not going to be as expensive as hiring an additional member of staff. You contract for specific services up front so you know in advance what will be done and how much it will cost.
How do you determine which organization to hire? As with any other decision, do your due diligence. Send RFPs (Requests for Proposal) to at least 3 firms. Interview each one via phone, or better yet, Skype. In most cases you won't need anybody to come on site to do the work you need done, so cast your net widely.
There are dozens of books devoted to marketing non-profits and schools. If your school is for profit, read books about non-profit marketing anyway. Many of the strategies suggested will probably work for you with minor edits and adaptations. A must read is the NAIS Handbook on Marketing Independent Schools
by Kathleen A. Hanson
Search on Amazon using the search string "marketing for non-profits' in the Books category. That will yield over 1,110 results. You will have to eliminate the books which are off-topic or unsuitable for your needs but should end up with a dozen or so useful publications.
Use the search string "blogs about marketing for non-profits". Start with the several list of top blogs for non-profits. Blogs are fresh and immediate. As with any source be sure to do your due diligence. If what the blogger says is not helpful or not accurate, move on. You will find plenty of help. Create your own blogroll for this specific category of blogs so that you won't have to be searching constantly for the blogs you find useful.
LinkedIn offers you some valuable resources as well. You know how to use LinkedIn Connections. Try searching connections using 'marketing' as your search string. You will have to filter the results carefully but should be able to find a couple of possibilities to pursue. Next change the search parameter to Groups and use the search string "marketing for non-profits" which will produce over 50 groups specific to your particular requirements.
As you can see, there are plenty of resources available to help you market your private school. I know that sometimes you will feel marginalized by the older, established schools. But don't dwell on those feelings for long. Your school has its own niche and its own market. Use the ideas and assistance available to you to reach your target clientele. Hone your message so that it is as effective as it can be. Get that message out using both traditional marketing tools such as email and your web site as well as the wide array of social media tools available to you.
One last piece of advice: curate your marketing efforts frequently and consistently. Marketing cannot be a 3 or 4 times a year activity. It needs to be curated ideally on a daily basis for best results.
The list of firms below is by no means exhaustive. If you would like your firm to be included, send particulars to me via a message on our Facebook page