9 STEPS TO A FOOLPROOF SCHOOL MARKETING PLAN
School marketing strategies are critical in establishing your school’s legacy and maintaining its financial health, but not many schools are utilizing this important tool that businesses have used for decades. A marketing plan is necessary to attract new students, increase public awareness and promote the school’s mission and goals. With a good school marketing plan, you can not only reach your school’s goals and objectives but also make sure that your school stands out from the competition. If you’re looking for a resource on how to develop a school marketing strategy, you’re in the right place! We’re breaking it down into 9 steps to develop a foolproof school marketing plan.
YOUR GUIDE TO DEVELOPING YOUR SCHOOL’S MARKETING STRATEGY
1. START WITH A VISION
The first step in creating a school marketing plan is to start with a vision. The vision should be clear and concise and should include the school’s mission, goals and objectives. Your school mission statement can help future families determine if your school aligns with family values. Include statements about what you offer (a safe, welcoming environment), where you focus (developing well-rounded, confident or responsible individuals) and how you accomplish this (by fostering a love of learning or encouraging exploration). The vision is the foundation of your school’s marketing plan and will help guide you in the rest of the steps.
2. DETERMINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you have a vision for your school marketing plan, the next step is to identify your target audience. Who is your school trying to reach? Who are your potential students, parents, and stakeholders? Are there members of your community that you’d like to align with? Knowing who your target audience is will help you create messages and campaigns that will be effective in reaching them.
Another business tool that has been used for years, is a SWOT analysis . Look at your school with an objective eye, determining your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Use the threats to help guide your school marketing objectives, adding strengths and capitalizing on opportunities. Are there issues that carefully crafted marketing messaging can address?
Check out their resources and anywhere that you can find their information. Study social media profiles, websites, and content that your competition is creating. Take notes of what you like, what you think works and what you might be able to do better.
4. DEVELOP A STRATEGY
When starting to develop the marketing strategy for your school, examine your existing resources, even if they will need an overhaul or other improvements. Consider the different marketing channels you will utilize, digital platforms, event marketing, print advertising or any other avenues.
5. SET GOALS
After you have developed your strategy, the next step is to set goals and objectives. These goals and objectives should be specific and measurable. They should also be aligned with your school’s mission and vision. Goals that fit the SMART profile can help you to determine your objectives and measurables with a clearly defined timeframe for accomplishment.
Your school marketing goals can address the different areas of your school’s ecosystem, fundraising, enrollment, retention, or brand visibility and awareness. Looking at the overall health of your school can help you determine where to focus. What needs improvement? Where should you focus time, energy, and in some instances, financial resources? Do you have team members with the skills and availability to assist with marketing strategy implementation?
6. DEVELOP YOUR TIMELINE
The next step is to develop a timeline. This timeline should include when you will launch your campaigns, when you will track your results, and when you will evaluate your success.
Timelines can change as your strategy rolls out, but pay close attention to the tracking and evaluation. Without that data, it will be challenging to adjust your strategy in hopes of finding more success, defining what did or did not work, or determining where you should be headed in the future.
7. CREATE YOUR MESSAGES
Once your goals and objectives are in place, the next step is to create your messages. Your messages should be tailored to your target audience and should be clear and consistent. Choose 3 or 4 different themes or headings to work within based on the interests of your target audience and personas. Topics like alumni success spotlights, community impact, awards and recognition, value statements and more can start to build out your messaging resources.
Roll these topic headings across all of the marketing channels that you plan to use. Comb through your website looking for important information like school values, mission statements, event calendars and more. Is it easy for your audience to find? Is it clearly stated or does it need improvement? This is your opportunity to refresh anything that seems stale or unclear or remove anything that no longer fits within your school marketing plan.
If social media is a part of your strategy, develop a calendar to stay organized and prevent the last-minute, post-anything-you-can-find, rush. Use the different topic themes to determine your content for the day, week or month.
If your school doesn’t utilize a newsletter , create one! If you’re already using one, look for ways to streamline and optimize it to fit your marketing plan. Make sure your goals are represented in the content you choose to be included and that the different members of your target audience are addressed within the topic themes with this marketing channel too.
When you attend events, what will your staff talk about? Are there key points that you want them to bring up in conversation? Create talking points, value statements and other pieces to help your team communicate and execute your marketing strategy when they’re out in the community or in front of potential new students. Utilize an event calendar so that your entire team knows where your school will be represented, who will be going, and the details of the event.
8. TRACK RESULTS
As we mentioned above, tracking results in measurable ways is important to the evolution of your school marketing plan. Look back at your goals to determine the must-have measurables. Should you track new student enrollment numbers? Open rates on your school newsletter emails? Funds raised through donor events? What will you consider “success” to be with your marketing strategy, and what information do you need to analyze that success?
9. EVALUATE YOUR SUCCESS
After your school marketing plan has been implemented, the last step is evaluating your success. Determine what worked, what didn’t, and what could be modified for better results in the future. Look at the budget to see how the dollars you spent impacted your results, and see if there is any need to shift funds towards more successful marketing opportunities, or if you missed your budget entirely.
Do a repeat SWOT analysis and look for any changes in your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. Continue to keep an eye on your competition to be sure you’re on a similar level. Don’t wait until the end of your campaigns to look at results, schedule weekly, monthly or quarterly check-ins to stay on top of your metrics.
Creating a school marketing plan can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these nine steps, you can create a foolproof school marketing plan that will help you understand the needs of your target audience on a deeper level, reach your school goals, and stand out from the competition.
HOW SOLVED CONSULTING CAN HELP
Solved Consulting offers modern solutions to solve your school’s problems. From school brand development , to marketing strategies for schools and technology and data services, our team can help your school reach its full potential. Schedule your free 15-minute consultation with our team and learn more about our services.
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