May 15, 2013
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...read more
March 15, 2013
I remember when many schools raised their collective eyebrows at social media a few years ago. You could almost hearing them saying under their breath "Over my dead body!" That was probably because few people understood social media and what to do with it.
Decades ago your beautiful school brochures and catalogs were the way you got the word out. They were expensive and time-consuming to produce. But that's all we had. Then along came the Internet. Schools built Web sites. Pretty basic ones at first. But as the technology advanced and professional graphic designers got their hands on those school Web sites, the result was a product just as elegant and compelling as those brochures and catalogs we used to have lithographed. In truth most schools still produce brochures and catalogs but now do them in house in most cases.
It seemed that you had barely got your Web site tweaked to dazzling perfection, replete with online applications, inquiries, video tours and all the bells and whistles 21st century Web designers could cram into them, when along came Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. Social media was suddenly socially acceptable.
Let's look at social media and see how best to use it to promote your school and its mission.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Essentially you need to post pictures to grab your readers' interest. Remember: absorbing information from the Internet is like drinking from a fire hydrant these days. There's just so much of it. We scan. We only read in...read more
May 12, 2012
A decade ago you spent a fortune on a gorgeous catalog and a couple of recruiting trips. Then you waited. If you had gotten your catalogs into the right hands and had a good turnout for your recruiting trips, you were in good shape. The applications came in hopefully in a three to one ratio. All was well.read more
That approach doesn't work very well today. Your demographics have changed. More and more of your target parents belong to Generation Y. They get their information from social media.
The diversity goals your school has require different approaches too. You need to extend the reach of your advertising campaigns by using social media which is easily shared. Your market has become more segmented and much more competitive. As the economic outlook makes the future look more and more uncertain parents are examining the educational foundations which their children will need in order to be successful in their adult lives.
The uncertain enconomy which has dogged us since 2008 causes financial concerns for both you and your school and your current and prospective families.
That's where social media comes in. Done well, social media will improve your admissions yield. Done consistently, social media can cement value in place in the minds of your target audience.
But remember: social media is still marketing. It requires planning and execution of that marketing plan to work. It cannot be a hit or miss approach. Neither can you leave your marketing in the hands of well-intentioned amateurs. Each social media component...
April 15, 2012
Social media for private K-12 schools is a bit different from social media for businesses. Businesses are looking to develop a client list from their social media efforts. Private schools, on the other hand, should seek to create community. Let's look at some more differences and some techniques to make your school's social media program successful.read more
Dedicate resources to social media. My first bit of advice is simple but really quite necessary: devote some resources to your social media program. Your school's web site used to be the only front door your school had. It was the first thing people saw. Now it is the first thing parents or anybody over the age of 40 will see. Facebook is your new front door for folks under the age of 30.
You wouldn't be casual about creating your catalog, would you? (Did anybody ask about catalogs?) Your catalog and other printed materials which you send to prospective families are always professionally produced, aren't they? Same thing with social media. Allocate staff time and money to social media for the best results.
Social media principles are the same as with any professional, well-crafted publicity materials.
Develop an editorial calendar so that your postings have some consistency. Your school year has its own unique rhythm to it. Anchor your postings around those milestone events and happenings. For example, if Grandparents' Day is the 3rd Wednesday in October, you would start a few weeks before with some posts about previous years' Grandparents' Days. Then build the excitement...
March 16, 2012
In this overview of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for private schools we take a look at what your readers see each time they visit your web site. SEO for Private Schools - Part 1
explained some of the elements of SEO which have to happen behind the curtain. Now we are focused on the exterior or what your readers see and experience.
What is your message? If you don't have a message, then how can your readers determine whether your school is a good fit for them and their requirements? I can hear you saying "Parents have to visit our school in order to truly understand what it is we do." That's true, but in this age of instant answers, parents make snap decisions based on their perceptions and first impressions.
So, right there on your first page or Splash Page as it is called, you need to make sure your message appears. Let me give you an example: One of the things a reader will see first is the Title Bar at the top left of his bowser. That's one place where what you do behind the curtain with meta tags is actually visible to your reader. Take a look at Andover's
web site to see how this works. As soon as the page comes up the title in the top left corner identifies Andover as an independent boarding school. If that's not the kind of school you are looking for, you will know at a...
May 15, 2013
Here are a dozen or so boys' schools' public thoughts about themselves and their missions.
Why Private School,
Choosing a Private School,
Getting into Private School,
Paying For It,
Running a Private School:
Marketing and Technology
Ideas and solutions for reaching your market
Note: Data has been gathered from the Dept. of Education, schools, and commercial data sources.