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School Marketing: Your Questions Answered
Why is school marketing important? School marketing is a vital tool for new enrollment and engagement. It needs to be consistent, planned and communicated.
Schools put all their efforts into the kids, their education and how to help them thrive after school is over. But increasingly schools are faced with metrics that go above and beyond their primary concern: educating students. Now schools need to focus on their family engagement, their community relations, and more than ever after COVID-19, their enrollment. These goals can be achieved through effective school marketing.
Below we have 10 school marketing questions submitted from schools and answers from our own school marketing specialists.
Q: How can I get the most out of my school marketing efforts when my time is limited?
A: Creating a scheduled marketing plan at the beginning of each semester makes keeping up with day to day efforts a lot easier. We recommend setting your goals prior to each semester and creating a tentative plan that’s easily adaptable as the season goes on to account for new programing and marketing opportunities that arise.
Q: What should you focus on when it comes to marketing your school?
A: Focus on these three things.
1) Set your goals and stick to them while making your marketing plan.
2) Think about your audience always; what do they want to hear from you?
3) Keep your brand consistent—i.e. use the same colors, same logos, same tone of voice on all channels and in all promotions.
Q: Do I need to be a social media expert in order to effectively market my school?
A: Not at all, the important part of social media is consistency and engagement. As long as you’re continually posting relevant content and interacting with your followers you will be effectively marketing your school. Make sure your school website highlights social media buttons so families can easily engage with your social platforms.
Q: How can I use marketing to help support my school’s goals for enrollment, engagement, fundraising, and more?
A: Set a clear goal (2 goals max) at the beginning of the semester and focus your marketing plan around this goal. Brainstorm creative ideas on how to best convey your message and get the response you’re looking for from your target audience. Create a timely cadence to share your planned posts so that you keep your audience engaged. It’s all about sticking to your goals, sharing relevant content, and reaching your audience.
Q: Do I need a school newsletter as part of my marketing plan?
A: While a school email newsletter isn’t necessary, we think it’s a fantastic marketing tool for your school because it’s informative without being overwhelming and it reaches your stakeholders who prefer to be contacted via email. If it feels overwhelming to create a monthly newsletter, start small (i.e this month’s updates & upcoming events), then add to it as you feel more comfortable (i.e. message from the principal, star student, outstanding classroom, etc.). Some website platforms will allow you to pull content directly from the website to the newsletter, such as events and news items.
Q: What should I do if I’m not happy with how my current branding represents my school?
A: First survey various stakeholders how they feel about your current branding (i.e. logo, colors, slogans, etc.). If your dislike is shared by other stakeholders then it might be time to talk to decision makers about potentially updating the branding. Talk to your school website provider about branding update packages they can offer. Also, think about timing. The summer or a long break in the winter are perfect times to launch a rebranding of your school.
Q: How can I involve other school leaders in my marketing efforts?
A: Delegate, delegate, delegate! Take an audit of all the weekly/monthly marketing tasks you are responsible for and take note of areas where the process could be more streamlined. Are you reaching out to teachers every month asking for updates? Are you writing the school newsletter yourself? Identify some areas where you could delegate recurring tasks to your colleagues. Another idea is to get them involved with the marketing planning process at the beginning of the semester so their ideas can be heard; this will increase the likelihood they will help execute the plan. If delegating to people seems daunting (because everyone is always so busy), you can find ways to delegate to your technology such as:
Invest in a social media manager tool to schedule your posts for the whole month.
Schedule news posts on the website to post, and then delete after the story is no longer relevant.
Create Once Push Everywhere (C.O.P.E) if your platform allows you to do that, will save you so much time and also ensure consistent messaging across all platforms.
Q: The parents in my school community are overwhelmed with school messages. How can I streamline that for them?
A: When you’re choosing your communication channels, reserve your most urgent messages (i.e. school closed, child absent, etc.) to the channels your parents are more likely to receive urgently (i.e. phone call, text message); do not overload these channels with less urgent information (at risk of overwhelming the parents and then missing urgent information). Choose channels like email, social media, etc. for other important, but not urgent, information. Does your school have a mobile app? This is another great way to promote your school brand and message. Families can opt in to push notification when they are downloading the app and then you don’t have to worry about using all of someone’s data.
Q: My school community members never check our website, they just rely on social media. Is this a problem?
A: While this isn’t necessarily a problem, there are ways to improve your website traffic and community awareness. Firstly, if your community currently prefers referring to social media for information, then make sure you push all important website announcements and information to social media as well (Edlio has this function built into our CMS—check with your website provider). Secondly, try to create intrigue for people to visit your website from social media posts. For example, maybe make a social post that says, “So many exciting events coming up this semester, check out our schedule [insert link to website schedule] so you don’t miss out on the fun!” It’s also common to link all social posts back to the website.
Q: Do I need to hire a marketing team for my school?
A: Unless your school is extremely dependent on high enrollment numbers or extreme fundraising, there’s not necessarily a reason to hire a marketing company. Your school website CMS and communication platform (+ some well thought out marketing planning, included in our school marketing workbook) should give you the tools you need to create a robust marketing strategy for your school that will help you meet your goals. Some schools will work with a marketing company for their website. Although there is nothing wrong with this, as you know, school information changes quickly and relying on another company to make updates to your website or add photos, etc. will not help in the family engagement aspect or real time information to your school community.
To be successful with marketing your school: start small, use consistent messaging across channels, and have a plan in place with clear goals. To help you get started, we have included our free school marketing workbook here!