Part 1: School Marketing Observations
I have been distance running for well over 20 years. I truly believe in the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” It takes time to physically build endurance for long distances. Having the plan and consistent practice of ‘slow and steady’ has allowed me to develop the patience and strength to go long distances and reach milestones I never thought possible. In turn, I apply this philosophy of building endurance to my inbound marketing mindset.
Consistency Isn’t a Sprint
We can apply the slow and steady wins the race concept to many areas of life. It is the passionate mantra of an inbound marketer. Unfortunately, many businesses are so caught up in the cycle of sprinting that they are financially and mentally exhausting themselves. They are missing the enjoyment and growth that comes from the results of slow and steady, or in better terms, the consistent positive return-on-investment that results from a strategic inbound marketing plan.
Observations of School Marketing
The independent and private school markets are just beginning to grasp hold of the inbound marketing methodology. I have had the opportunity to work with several schools who have struggled with their marketing and admissions/ enrollment and have found an underlying set of themes between these schools:
- Private and independent teachers truly want to provide lifelong learning opportunities for their students and families.
- Private and independent teachers have daily heartfelt engagements with students and parents that, when shared, evoke emotions from almost everyone.
- They see the value of a website, social media, and emails that help them stay connected to their school community.
- The teachers and administration truly understand and love their students and their jobs.
- Many educators have been around children long enough that their observations and recommendations hold value for parents.
- They want to be educators but feel the burden of meeting enrollment and admissions goals to keep their school running.
- They recognize that word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is their best marketing tool but have no idea how to consistently be the main influence of WOM.
Heads of schools are so busy being educators that they have little opportunity to learn how to integrate these themes together to form a strategy that will help them reach their enrollment and admissions goals. Many private and independent schools are in the vicious cycle of rushing through the admissions season then drifting through the other seasons, which leaves them in a reactionary environment. In this reactionary environment, they lack time to be proactive. By not being proactive, they miss out on opportunities to do what they do best; educate.
Inbound marketing methodology is an answer to many of the frustrations felt by administrators regarding the enrollment and admissions needs of their schools. Why?
- Inbound is customer-centric. Every headmaster knows, parents don’t want to hear about the achievements of the school. Parents want to know what the school will do for their child. Inbound helps schools turn a self-centered to one that helps parents with their educational needs. Inbound helps schools share stories so that parents can envision their child attending that school.
- Inbound is consistent. Parents need consistency. No parent wants to see their school, or potential school, in a state of desperation during enrollment season. By correctly following the inbound methodology, the school will have a stream of students and families in their pipeline.
- Inbound drives word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth marketing is the best form of marketing for schools. Inbound helps schools distribute accurate information so that when your parents are talking to their social circles about you, they are armed with information to share.
- Inbound marketing allows you to be part of the conversation. Parents talk. Unfortunately, there are a lot of conversations and opinions being shared in which the school is cut out of the conversation. The metrics used during inbound methodology identify when, where, and the nature of the conversation that is taking place about your school, allowing you to join in the conversation and become an active participant.
- Inbound guides potential families through the funnel. Administrators have a limited amount of time and often find themselves spread thin. Inbound marketing takes over nurturing potential families until they are ready to speak with the school. Inbound marketing prevents the administration from wasting time and money on traditional marketing methods. It takes the right information and puts it in front of potential parents at the right time and place. Most importantly, inbound marketing allows the administration to use their time to meet with those most interested and deemed a good fit for the school.
- Inbound forms relationships of trust. Inbound allows school administration and teachers to nurture relationships long before they meet potential families. By the time a parent meets with the school administration they have already established an emotional connection with the school.
- Inbound marketing provides information for return on investment. Schools are businesses and like all businesses, they have to provide ROI numbers for investors and school boards.
Private and independent school marketing does not have to be reactionary. It can be consistent and proactive with the correct marketing methodology. In my next blog, I’ll discuss how the Inbound Marketing Methodology helps drive word-of-mouth marketing; a schools most effective form of marketing.