Marketing and Technology
I was an early adopter of social media so I can tell you that the growth of the genre which I have witnessed has been remarkable. The instant communications and universal accessibility of social media have powered revolutions around the world as you and I both know. Sadly, social media has been manipulated and abused by governments and political movements who seek to undermine and destroy institutions.
For the purposes of this article, we shall set aside those negative aspects of social media and look at ways in which your small to medium-sized private school can use social media to make families past, present, and future aware of your school. If your school has the budget for professional social media curators and a fully-integrated marketing program, you are all set. However, if you have limited resources for marketing your school and are not certain how to proceed, I have written this article with your school in mind.
Before we look at some suggestions for using social media, I want you to set aside any misconceptions which you might have about social media. I run into people all the time who say "I don't use Facebook." "I can't be bothered with Twitter." "YouTube is a waste of time." Interestingly enough, they never seem to mention Instagram or LinkedIn which are popular with millennials and the business community respectively. Social media is essentially an electronic form of socializing. Years ago we sent postcards to our friends and family when we traveled. We even
Editor's note: I asked Jason How, a professional enrollment strategist and Managing Director of Agency J, to answer some of my questions about achieving enrollment targets and other related matters. ~Rob
1. My school's enrollment is declining. I can't afford a marketing professional. What should I do?
It’s important to understand what a school means when it says that it can’t afford a marketing professional. Here are some guiding questions:
- Does it mean that they don’t have an in-house marketing person?
- Does it mean that they can’t afford to hire an extra pair of hands?
- If it can’t afford to hire outside help, is it because the administration made certain assumptions about the cost of hiring a marketing professional?
Once we understand what the school means, the next thing is to get clarity on the main reason why their school’s enrollment is declining. Each reason has its own solution. Reasons include:
- Declining student age population within the geographical region.
- Growing competition due to:
- New schools popping up in the area.
- Existing schools expanding aggressively.
- Deteriorating ratings and feedback about the school’s programs, leading to a rise in negative reviews and word-of-mouth, which discourage others from attending the school (true story).
- Over-reliance on a single marketing and enrollment source.
It’s important to get clarity on the main reason for the decline because marketing is not a magic pill that can make every issue go away.
If a school has a good reputation but happens to be located in an area where there are fewer student-age population, there is not much marketing can
I am assuming that your school is well-known within your local community. But what about beyond that community? Are you visible to families looking for a school like yours? How will they know that your school fits their specific requirements? Well, there are several things you can do to reach that critical pool of families and potential students.
The Invisible Stuff
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a mystery to the uninitiated. It is one of those arcane sciences that webmasters everywhere have to be aware of. Unfortunately, the mention of SEO for the rest of us prompts most of us to start reading email and texting friends. It's all so technical. The truth is that good SEO can enhance your marketing efforts. It can make your school more visible to the audience which you are trying to reach. Weak or non-existent SEO will bury your site so that it is practically invisible. So, ignore SEO at your peril. At the least get your arms around the basics so that you can supervise your web management and design team authoritatively.
This video explains what SEO is.
What is Search Engine Optimization? In its simplest terms, SEO is making sure that your site's meta tags and content are optimized so that parents and students can find your site easily when they type specific words into a search engine. For example, if you ask Google to show results for the words "private schools," it will oblige with
Disclaimer: I am writing this article about IT infrastructure with small private schools in mind. I am basing my suggestions on my more than thirty years working as an IT professional in private schools and selling technology equipment and services to them. It is my hope that these talking points will save you some money and give you and your staff some peace of mind so that you can focus on the important job you have, namely, teaching your students. ~Rob Kennedy, MCT, CSE
Most medium to large-sized schools will have professional IT staff on their payroll. But, while small schools need professional IT advice just as much, if not more, than the larger schools do, finding the money to pay for the needed expertise is always a major challenge in a small school. Here then are some practical, low-cost solutions to keep your important data secure.
1. Put all your applications and data in the cloud.
This is probably the least expensive way for a small school to deal with securing your important data. For purposes of this essay, I define important data as the confidential personal and academic information which your families and students have entrusted to you. Important data also includes the school's financials and business correspondence.
Ten or fifteen years ago you would have been told that you have to have a server and a complicated network infrastructure to keep everything secure. Nowadays you can keep everything secure in the cloud. Yes, literally there is an app for that.
Marketing a private school is one of the tasks which can be daunting for school administrators of the small to medium-sized school. That is mainly because most heads of school have as their principal duty raising money. That responsibility is a full-time job by itself. Naturally, heads of school have a host of administrative duties as well. Moving down the organization chart, private school business managers have to keep the books balanced, manage the cash flow and deal with the overall management of the physical plant. Academic deans manage the teachers and what happens in the classroom. As a result, the admissions office ends up with the marketing brief, such as it is, in smaller schools. Most of the time marketing in the small school consists of making sure the website is updated, regular posts to the social media pages are done, and an admissions catalog is produced annually.
This state of affairs contrasts sharply with large private schools which can afford to hire the professional marketing staff needed to promote their schools effectively.
What is remarketing?
So, I can just imagine you reading this and thinking that you barely have time to market your school, much less remarket it. Anyway, what exactly is remarketing?
You and I are targets of companies' remarketing efforts every time we surf the web. For example, I was looking at bread machines the other day. After I left Amazon, I went to The Guardian to check the headlines and then went on to Facebook. Each