- Why you should be marketing your school.
- 3 focuses to market your school & realistic tips to get started now.
- A challenge to start marketing your school to your audience… NOW.
Yep. I said it: Marketing your school.
Let’s start here: If you think your school doesn’t need to be marketing itself, you’re wrong. Full Stop.
For the first real time in history, schools are competing every day. Competing for enrollment, competing against negative viewpoints and stories about education, and competing by showing stakeholders that you’re doing what’s right for their kids.
With online education on the rise, both in the number of options AND the level of enrollment, schools need to make the case for why they are the best choice for any and every potential student.
This is true whether you ARE an online school, or if you’re running a traditional brick and mortar institution. The fact is if you are not marketing your school and the value you offer students, you’re going to be in serious trouble sometime in the next 5-10 years. If not sooner.Highlight your awesome teachers. Celebrate the amazing kids in your classrooms. Champion the people that make events possible. Connect with local businesses. Invite people in. Take the learning out to your community. Click To Tweet
So, how do you market a school?
There are a lot of pieces to that puzzle that can include outreach, campaigns, or SEO which can prove to be challenging and is why many people will look to using a company such as oneseo to help them get started with this. But there are some areas that you can look at doing yourselves. Today I’m going to look at just 3 areas you can focus on in 2020 to lay the foundation for your school’s marketing.
Marketing Focus #1: Tell Your Story
Think about who talks about your school. I hope you do. I hope you share the awesomeness happening in your classrooms (physical or virtual) every day.
But others talk about your school, too. People in your community. People who went to your school decades ago. And yes, plenty of people who have never even been in your hallways before.
So, I ask: Are you talking about your school? Are you sharing your story? Or are you allowing others to share their version of that story? A version that may have zero accuracies. A version that may have been formed 10, 15, or even 30 years ago.
I really hope your school has changed over the last 30 years. But have the stories being told about it changed?
Our good friend, Joe Sanfelippo, says this: “Our charge is to rewrite the narrative in education so everyone understands all the awesome things happening in our schools!”
What does he mean by this?
It’s simple. Tell your story…or someone else will tell it for you. If you don’t show people how awesome your school is, they’ll go on believing it’s only as good (or bad) as they remember. As good (or bad) as someone once told them it was.
You do amazing things. Tell people about it. That’s the only way we change the narrative. “But how can we do this?” I hear you ask. There are many ways that you can tell people without simply, telling them. You can start a social media campaign that posts all the new and exciting things that you’re school is doing. If you’ve never done this before, it can be challenging which is why many will hire a digital marketing agency to assist them. In fact, some agencies are now offering video production in St Louis which could be a brilliant addition to your campaign. People can then be shown all the amazing things in your school, rather than just being told about them. It’s all about knowing who would be interested in watching a video like this which brings us on to our next point.
Marketing Focus #2: Know Your Audience
A lot of schools think parents and stakeholders are the only ones they need to market to. This is simply not true. While yes, parents are definitely a group you want to focus on, there’s much more to marketing your school than just sharing your story with parents.
Your audience is much broader. It includes your teachers, staff, community members, local businesses, and your students.
You are not just marketing to potential new students and families. You’re marketing to your current students and families, too.
And those community members that no longer have (or never had) children in your school? They’re still affected by what your school does or does not do. They still vote on levies. They still help, or choose not to help, with events. They’re still part of what you’re marketing: Your school’s community.
You need to marketing to your entire audience. Show parents what their students are learning. Show your community the awesomeness their tax dollars are helping create.
Connect businesses to the content being taught (they love this, BTW). Show students that you see them, you love them, and you want to celebrate them. Ensure your staff knows they are respected and appreciated.
Speak to your entire audience, because they all matter.
Marketing Focus #3: Create Content – A Lot of It – On Multiple Platforms
Ok, so great, Jeff. Sounds good. But how do we tell our story and tell it to our entire audience?
Create content. It’s that simple.
Let me be clear. I said “simple,” not “easy.” Marketing anything takes effort, and a lot of it. Your school is no different. In fact, it’s like marketing a pretty massive organization, complete with a wide variety of audiences, different “products and services,” and its fair share of warranted concerns for you to consider. You might want to look at some jacksonville marketing agencies, or wherever your school is based, to get some help to do this.
But I’ll say it again: Create content. Lots of it. In multiple mediums. On multiple platforms.
The days of simply sending a newsletter home in book bags is over. Don’t get me wrong, those newsletters can still be valuable. But you should now be supplementing them with a digital version via email, text, social media, and even voice. You may even wish to get professional help with these from the likes of graphic designers at Magnnetic, who can send over a PDF for you which your school can then send out to parents. With the recent forced shift to remote learning, you’ve probably already shifted to more virtual communication, and that’s good.[scroll down to keep reading]
Your school’s website is more important now than it has ever been. That website should not only be a hub for all the information someone may need to enroll a student, contact your office, or fill out emergency medical forms.
It should also be a hub for content that provides your audience with value. Blogs, digital downloads, videos, podcasts, and social media must now all be included in your school’s website.
And those blogs, videos, and podcasts should not be simply delivering school news (although they certainly can), but also providing value.
Maybe there’s a blog post that walks parents through ways to help their kids be good citizens on social media. And perhaps there’s a student-led podcast that not only highlights things happening in your community, but also provides students with the opportunity to connect to their community.
Maybe there’s a video series where students interview local businesses or community members to get their thoughts on this year’s homecoming floats, the basketball team’s season, or an upcoming event.
Are you ready?
The opportunities for your school to create content, provide value, and connect with your audience are limitless. The only question is whether you’re ready to take action and market your awesomeness.
I challenge you.
Get on social media, put out newsletters, shoot YouTube videos, create podcasts, engage with your community. Do it more than you ever have before.
Highlight your awesome teachers. Celebrate the amazing kids in your classrooms. Champion the people that make events possible. Connect with local businesses. Invite people in. Take the learning out to your community.
Share. And then share some more.
You do amazing things. Tell people about it.
About Jeff Gargas
Jeff Gargas is the COO and co-founder of the Teach Better Team, and co-author of the Teach Better book. Prior to co-founding Teach Better Team, Jeff was the owner of ENI Multimedia, an online marketing firm, where he worked with entrepreneurs and small businesses, assisting them with web design, social media, content marketing, and brand awareness.
Prior to all of this, Jeff was an adjunctive professor at Kent State University and spent 10+ years in the music industry. He has spoken at conferences around the country, and has successfully promoted more than 500 events and launched 7 businesses in a variety of industries.
Jeff is passionate about music, and enjoys spending time with his family as often as possible. He is also a member of the Teach Better Speakers Network.