If you build it*, they will come.
*It doesn’t refer to a school. *It refers to a marketing strategy.
Building a school with great programs and a rockstar faculty is a good start but that’s not enough. Don’t stop there. You also need to build a marketing plan for reaching out to the people who need to know about your school.
And guess what? You’re not going to actually market to a lot of people. Instead of trying to reach every single person in your city, you’ll be more effective if you target the few who may be interested in your school.
So, how exactly do you do that?
In this post, we’ll discuss how to first find the perfect audience for your school and then how to create a marketing strategy to attract and convert them. Let’s get started.
Start By Defining Your Who
Let’s start with the obvious: Not everyone needs or even wants to attend a private school. Some people don’t have children, so they’re out (at least until they do). Of the people who actually have children, some of them aren’t interested in private education. They’re out, too. The ones you should go after with your marketing are not only the people who are interested in private schooling but also those who can afford it.
This group of people comprises your main audience. But within this group, you’ll have smaller audiences.
There are several different ways to slice and dice your main audience into smaller groups. This is known as segmenting. To illustrate why segmenting is important, let’s look at an example:
Most schools will target parents, but if you teach older kids, your marketing may target students, too.
So, you have two distinct marketing groups. If you tried to market to both of these groups with the same message, you would miss an opportunity to create a more engaging message for both of the groups.
As you can see, segmenting is beneficial for personalizing your marketing message.
That’s just one example. Other ways to segment your audience includes:
By demographic: Age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, income, occupation, education level
By geography: Location, zip code, neighborhood
By behavior: Activities
By psychographics: Values, attitude, lifestyle, opinions, interests
Once you pinpoint who you’re trying to reach, you’ll be able to create different messages for each group. For example, you can tweak your message to appeal on the basis of shared values. Or you can reach out to people who are interested in specific extracurricular activities, such as lacrosse or ballet, by highlighting those programs in your marketing message.
An easy way to identify your perfect audience is by assessing your school’s offerings and values. Then, find people who share your values or have demonstrated an interest in what you offer. For example, you can create a blog post to highlight one of your programs. The people who arrive on such a post are attracted to this type of program and they should be invited to sign up for your email newsletter where they can learn more.
Know what your school offers and who you’d like to reach before moving on to the next step.
Create S.M.A.R.T. Marketing Goals
After determining your ideal audience, it’s time to develop S.M.A.R.T. marketing goals.
It’s easy to print off flyers and distribute them to every home, grocery store, and coffee shop in your area. It’s even easy to create ads on social media. What’s not easy is to carry out a successful marketing strategy when you don’t have clear, S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Let’s break it down:
Specific – Get specific about what you want to achieve. Do you want to boost your enrollment numbers with a certain demographic or grade level?
Measurable – Get into the numbers. Define how many. For example: As a result of your campaign, how many new students would you like to see enrolled in your school?
Achievable – Be honest with yourself. Can you truly reach this objective with your current resources?
Realistic – Get realistic. Make an action plan to accomplish your goal. Assign tasks and ensure that everyone has what they need to do their job.
Timely – Set a deadline. This will give you and your team a plan to work towards. You can also break your overall campaign into smaller deadlines.
By setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ll be able to make the most of your time, effort, and budget. You can concentrate your efforts, know what’s working and tweak what’s not.
Create a Website
Creating a website is one of the best and easiest things you can do to market to your ideal audience. I know that everyone has a website these days, but not everyone uses their website effectively. Instead of just an information hub, your website can be a lead generating machine and act as a 24/7 salesperson for your school. Here’s how:
Through content marketing, you can attract prospective students and their families to your website and eventually your school.
Unlike traditional marketing which tends to be intrusive and interruptive, content marketing provides information that the audience has requested. Let’s look at it this way:
A TV commercial is an example of traditional marketing. Sure, it grabs someone’s attention, but only for a moment. This type of ad is unrequested, mildly to very annoying, and can be expensive to produce with very little success.
On the other hand, a blog post is a classic example of content marketing. Your school will create a blog and then publish new posts about school-related topics that may be of interest to your target audience. Your target audience will stumble across your posts through a Google search. Then they may continue to explore your website and sign up for your newsletter.
Content marketing allows you to build trust with your target audience while providing them with valuable information that they’re actually searching for. This is why you need to focus on content marketing for attracting your target audience.
Create a Social Media Plan
Last but not least is developing a marketing plan for social media. The importance of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube cannot be overstated. Let’s take a look at how you can use social media to market your school:
Start with one social media platform. The most popular platform is Facebook.
Create a posting schedule. Try to post at least two to three times a week.
Create ads on Facebook to get maximum eyeballs on your posts.
Retarget your ads on Facebook to reach people who’ve recently visited your website or viewed your other ads.
Include images on your social media posts.
Create videos to share on social media, including Facebook and YouTube.
Ask questions to encourage engagement.
Answer comments to show that you’re active.
Create ads for similar, lookalike audiences on Facebook. If you need help advertising on social media, let’s talk.
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