Marketing for your school can be overwhelming. Trying to find the time and resources to market your school successfully can be stressful, especially when you and your staff have so many other things that take priority. A marketing plan will focus your efforts, help in budget planning and help you achieve a more sustainable approach with your marketing.
How a marketing plan can help:
Align your marketing to your goals
A study of three different school types in England showed there was an absence of coherent marketing, which can cause schools to be under-subscribed. When there is a lack of focused marketing, you aren’t showing what’s different about your school compared to competitors which could lead pupils to choose them instead. When you don’t have a marketing plan, you could be wasting time creating content that doesn’t help you in any way.
A marketing plan helps you to align your marketing with your goals. For example if you want to increase your admissions, you could show what the day in a life of one of your students is like either through a blog or social media. Without a school marketing plan you could be missing opportunities to highlight all the good things about your school.
Clarity on budget requirements
It’s getting harder for schools to manage their budgets. Funding has stayed the same for a number of years but costs are increasing. Some schools have seen their bills rise by more than 100%.
It is vital you don’t waste money and know how much your marketing activities will cost you. By creating a marketing strategy, you can plan your budget for the year ahead, allowing you to use any extra money for other departments.
Understand your audience
A marketing plan helps you understand who you are marketing to. It might seem obvious but sometimes who you are talking to is forgotten.
Are you marketing to parents, prospective students, or other stakeholders? You can market to different audiences but each segment will use different channels of communication and will be interested in different things.
For example, Facebook appeals to parents more whereas Instagram appeals to students. The most popular app for 8 to 15 year olds is Instagram, Snapchat, and then Facebook.
If you’re talking to students on Facebook, this may not be the best channel to reach as many people in this age group which just wastes your time.
Whereas, you could target the parents of potential students through Facebook. Facebook allows reviews on their site which can help boost your reputation online.
Credibility and consistency
It is important for your school to build trust and credibility to be the first choice for pupils and their parents.
An organised and well thought out marketing campaign will show your school in the best light. Parents and pupils can see what your school has to offer that could benefit them.
Consistency is vital when marketing, especially with social media, emails, and blogs. Social media channels prefer you to post regularly. If you don’t then they won’t promote your posts as much and you won’t reach as big an audience.
Consistent emails and blogs can help keep you in the mind of your audience and keep them up-to-date with everything that is happening at your school.
Empower internal teams
Having a schedule that your staff can follow helps to take the pressure off them. It is clear what needs to be done and by whom to ensure accountability.
It also means everyone can get involved in creating content for your social media channels or blogs, which can help to spread the responsibility of your marketing activities.
When there are policies in place such as marketing plans, social media policies, and how to respond guides, it helps give your staff confidence that they are able to use your marketing platforms properly, so as not to damage the schools reputation or lead to legal disputes. HelloU Creative provide tailored marketing workshops to help empower staff
Communicate to parents
It is important to keep parents informed on what is happening at your school. Increasingly schools are using social media to remind parents of open evenings, school trips, and many other activities.
This helps to involve the parents in their children’s education, which in turn helps the students to engage more and achieve better results.
Attract and retain staff
A challenge for schools is the issue of attracting and retaining staff. The Minister for Education has even called on retired teachers to help solve teacher shortages in England.
Your marketing activities could make it easier for your school to attract the best talent. Behind the scenes content of what your school is like, showing teacher training events, and highlighting the achievements of students, are all great ways of showing potential staff how great it is to work at your school.
Your reputation is key to projecting a positive image of your school. When your school is held in high esteem, talent will be attracted to working with you as they will be proud to work with the best school in the area.
What is a school marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a document that sets out your schools marketing goals, how you intend to market, and how you will measure your performance.
What’s included in a marketing plan?
A school marketing plan has six main sections.
Understanding your current marketing situation
Carrying out a marketing analysis helps to determine where you are now with your marketing in relation to your schools marketing goals.
School marketing objectives
Your school should have some short-term and long-term marketing goals.
Maybe you want to increase your school admissions or improve your brand awareness and reputation.
Whatever goal you want to achieve, you should create SMART (Specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and timed) objectives. For example, we want to increase our school admissions by 10% by 2023.
Your school USP
What makes your school different from others in the local area?
Just like a business, your school needs to understand what the competition is doing.
A recent study found, ‘schools appear to be customer oriented but they lack a competitor orientation’.
When you’re not checking what your competitors are doing, it means you could be missing out on opportunities to make your school stand out.
You need to be clear about what makes your school unique. Your unique selling proposition is a statement that can be used in your marketing to show your audience how you are better than other schools.
A SWOT analysis may sound scary but it’s actually simple. It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
It simply means that you create a list for each of the categories and use these to inform your marketing.
For your strengths, maybe you have a high-tech science department with equipment that other schools don’t have.
Make a list for each of the categories and this can help you improve areas your school isn’t great at and promote those it is.
What channels to use
There are many communication channels to use and you may feel pressure to be on as many as possible.
It is best to choose up to three channels and focus on these. Anymore and it can be overwhelming and could mean your messages are diluted.
A majority of schools use Facebook, 83% use Instagram, 68% use Twitter, and 55% use YouTube.
This doesn’t mean you have to use Facebook because it is the most popular channel amongst schools. You need to understand your audience and chose the channels that they use most.
A marketing plan will include all the channels that should be used to connect with your audience.
Monitor & Measure
Unfortunately, creating content isn’t the end of your marketing process. You need to then measure the appropriate metrics to see what has worked and to see if you are meeting your goals.
You need to decide on metrics you are going to measure beforehand and then track these on a weekly or monthly basis.
The benefits of outsourcing your schools marketing
Marketing planning for schools can be daunting for those who aren’t trained in it. Marketing also takes a lot of time and energy and your staff already have a lot to do.
You may currently be struggling with your marketing. Maybe you find it difficult to make time for marketing activities, or you don’t know what you should be measuring to see if it’s effective. Maybe you are marketing your school but it doesn’t seem to have met your goals.
It can be frustrating to spend time on marketing and see poor results.
Outsourcing your schools marketing saves you time, gives you a competitive advantage, and saves you money.
Saves you time
Hiring a marketing professional to help you with your marketing plan can make sure it is done quickly.
A professional can talk through what you want to achieve and help focus your marketing to create a plan that is tailored to your school. When a marketer helps to create your marketing plan, you will save time creating content that doesn’t help with your goals.
Professional marketing advice
Your teachers cannot be expected to know how to market effectively. If you are self-employed, you don’t try to do your accounts yourself, you get a chartered accountant. Marketing is the same.
A chartered marketing professional has the skills and experience to help you without trying to figure things out for yourself and wasting your time and energy.
Even if you have a dedicated marketing department, they are busy trying to wear many hats and could use some support.
An outsider’s opinion can also bring fresh eyes to your school's marketing and help you look at things from a different perspective. You could keep costs down by taking advantage of a two hour strategy session with a chartered marketer who can focus your marketing and support you.
This way you keep your costs down but get professional advice that gives you confidence to go away and create content yourself.
When you work with HelloU, you will be working directly with a chartered marketing expert with over 20 years of experience. You will be able to get skills and knowledge from a professional that will save you precious time.
Hiring a professional can help you gain a competitive advantage over other schools in your area. You may not see them as competitors but they are vying for prospective students, just as you are and more students’ means more funding. Compared to other schools your marketing will look professional and should be more engaging. This will help to set you apart from others and help to achieve your goals.
Saves your school money
While hiring a professional will require a payment, it is an affordable expense, which can save you money in the long-term by helping you to achieve a more sustainable marketing approach.
A professional marketer can help you save money by helping you invest in marketing that you actually need. If your goal is to increase funding for your school, then a marketer can use their specialist knowledge to help you achieve this.
Having a marketing strategy for your school will help to plan ahead and save you time and resources. It provides a roadmap of planned activities to help you achieve your short term and long term objectives.
At HelloU Creative, we work with you to help you make sense of your marketing and bring clarity and direction to your institute.
You will be working directly with a chartered marketing expert with over 20 years experience.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help with your school marketing, or get your free audit then contact us today.