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.
12 SCHOOL NEWSLETTER IDEAS FOR TEACHERS: THE GUIDE FOR TEACHERS
A school newsletter is a great communication tool to keep your staff, students, school families and community connected. It can also help to keep your school brand in front of potential new students and parents while serving as an opportunity to communicate your brand voice and keep everyone informed. Committing to a consistent newsletter with engaging and interesting content can seem overwhelming, but here are 12 school newsletter ideas to kickstart your creativity!
Getting Started With a School Newsletter
What is the difference between a newsletter that sits in your inbox unnoticed, and one that you look forward to reading? For one, consistency is important. Whether you commit to a monthly or weekly edition or find that another frequency works best for your schedule, sending your newsletters at the same time is critical in keeping your audience engaged. Research shows email marketing to be most successful when sent on weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. In addition to a schedule and routine, the “From” email address used in your school newsletter should also be consistent. Your audience will know to look for an update from the same person at the same time and cadence, helping to avoid confusion with too many emails from too many different school employees.
Consider where your audience will read your newsletter. Do most of your students or parents view emails on their phones? Most email newsletter platforms have options to optimize your newsletter for mobile devices. Make sure your newsletter can be read and that your text sizes are not too small. Test links or buttons to verify newsletter usability when not on a computer.
Another point to consider is the design of your school newsletter. Choosing a school newsletter template can help to organize your content while incorporating elements of your school brand, logos, colors and more. This is also an opportunity to keep your newsletter from becoming too text-heavy and boring by using photos or design elements to highlight your content or draw attention to important updates.
School Newsletter Headings and Subject Lines
School newsletter headings should be informative and help to keep your information organized. For regular updates like lunch menus or a school calendar, using the same headings from newsletter to newsletter will teach your audience where to look for the information they need.
One area where repetitiveness is discouraged is in your subject line. Imagine getting 4 emails that all use “Weekly Update” as a subject line. How would you easily know which week they are referring to? At the very least, include the month, date or edition information in your subject line. 35% of recipients report opening an email based on a subject line alone, and this is your chance to get creative! Personalize your subject line, play on themes like weather or holidays, or choose the most exciting piece of content in your newsletter and write your school newsletter subject line around it.
For example, if your sports team wins a big rivalry game, your subject line could say, “A Weekend Win for XYZ Basketball”. Avoid spam words like “free” that will keep your newsletter from landing in inboxes.
School Newsletter Topic Ideas
After determining your schedule, choosing a template and considering your school newsletter subject line and headings, now it’s time to get to writing! If you’re not sure what to write or think you have nothing to share, check out these 12 school newsletter ideas.
Share events like field trips, school dances, spirit weeks or parent-teacher organization events. Link back to your school calendar (and make sure it’s regularly updated!) so your audience can refer back to it for more information.
Keeping track of student schedules can be tough for parents and reminders like club meetings or sports practices can help to keep these items top of mind. These are especially important to include if the club meets infrequently (less than weekly), or on different dates/times.
Give your staff a shout-out of appreciation in your school newsletter! Celebrate a recent accomplishment, highlight a recent class project, or share a personal detail about a member of your team. This is also a great opportunity to introduce anyone new to your school, from the teachers to the administrative staff and support personnel.
If you’re noticing your lost and found is overflowing, remind parents and students to take a look next time they’re nearby. When the seasons change, make sure your staff and students have the appropriate clothing and footwear for the season (i.e. boots and gloves in the winter months). You can even include reminders of where to find school closures, notification of early release dates or other school day schedule modifications.
Learning doesn’t stop in the classroom! Include a writing prompt, or reading challenge or share a math problem that parents and students can work on together at home.
Strengthen your foundation to the community by sharing events that tie into your school's mission statement . Look for non-profit events, charitable causes, community concerts or other organizations you could support.
Stay connected with your school families during breaks, long weekends or the summer months. Share fun ideas and activities like summer popsicle recipes, DIY musical instruments with household items, or homemade gift ideas around the holidays.
Include photos, video clips or anything you might have from recent events. Sports games, concerts, and anything your students might be doing are great things to include in your newsletter. Recapping events helps those that were unable to attend to feel included in the school community. You can also summarize quarter or semester activities, students' honors or scholarship awards.
In a recent survey, over 75% of elementary schools participated in at least 1-5 fundraisers in a calendar year. Sharing your fundraising events, the goals, progress and deadlines can give you different options for content. This helps to motivate your donors and keep your fundraising efforts top of mind.
Interview anyone and everyone and share their story in your school newsletter. Look for business owners, legacy families, or anyone who might have an interesting story to share. Accomplishments big and small can be highlighted in your alumni profiles.
Are you creating content for your website or social media presence? Include it in your newsletter! Re-use and recycle existing content periodically, or share past blog posts at relevant times (starting a new school year, graduation, enrollment tips etc.) to help your families navigate your school process.
We’ve covered lots of opportunities to include photos with your school newsletter headings, but sharing a photo from the day can help to give a sense of what everyday life is like on your campus. Let parents see what their kids are up to or invite prospective families to see the community you’ve built. Double-check any waivers that your students and parents sign to make sure sharing images of the students included is approved.
School Newsletter Best Practices
School newsletters are a great marketing tool, but they will have more impact if your newsletter mailing list continues to evolve. Double-check that all contact forms on your website feed into your newsletter service provider, or make sure you’re manually updating your subscriber list. Make sure that anyone who tours, donates or is otherwise interested in your school gets on the list too. The sign-up boxes should be easy to find on your website, and you can remind students and parents in person to sign up if they’re not already receiving your newsletters.
Sample of Newsletter Ideas
While the majority of your audience will prefer a digital version, you may find that a small portion of your readers would like a paper copy. This can be inexpensive to accomplish, by providing a handful of black and white copies in your school office, or in another place that receives visitors. Post your newsletter to a bulletin board for extra visibility, just remember to change it out with each edition so they’re not old or outdated. Here is a sample of newsletter ideas to get you started.
Share Emergency Information
Occasionally, you may have something to share that is time sensitive. If you need to occasionally break from your standard distribution schedule to share urgent updates, notices or important information parents should be aware of, be sure your subject line draws attention to that. Words like urgent, update, or special edition can help your audience understand why they are receiving an additional email.
Get Creative and Stay in Touch
School newsletters don’t have to be overwhelming. By coming up with a plan and getting creative with your content topics, you can stay in touch with past, present and potential future students and their families. Take pride in celebrating all of the accomplishments of your staff and teachers, get involved in your community and use your newsletter as an extension of your school brand and school spirit.
How SOLVED Can Help You Engage with Your Community
Solved Consulting is here to help you every step of the way, from developing your school brand strategy to implementing it across multiple marketing channels. Schedule your free 15-minute meeting with our team to discuss your school needs, and how we can help strengthen your brand.