Growing your private school comes down to marketing. You have to tell your school’s story in a way that helps families find you and compels them to join your community.
There are a lot of options for private schools. Marketing is how you stand out from the rest.
As parents embark on their school search, they have a list of questions in hand:
- What is different about this school?
- What are the criteria for hiring faculty?
- What is the mission/philosophy of the school?
- How can parents be involved?
- What are the communication expectations with parents?
- What are the outcomes we can expect by sending our child to this school?
- What are the challenges of the school? What are the areas for improvement?
With your marketing interactions, you set the stage for consistency. Your website, marketing materials, social media presence, and personal interactions should all be within the same harmonious theme to answer these questions.
Make sure you are delivering what you are promising in lip service and scene-setting. This will put parents at ease. They will be able to see their child on your campus through the mission you can materialize for them.
By knowing a prospect’s motivations, you can structure buyer personas pinpointing a better focus of your marketing tactics. Defining an ideal parent or student will guide you towards progressive product development.
Allotting for refinement will result in alignment across the organization. You will segway in attracting the most valuable leads.
Why Private School Marketing Matters
Developing a marketing plan will help you prepare your institution and parents for the enrollment process ahead.
In today’s world, it isn’t enough for a school to possess good programs and good teachers. Without initial awareness of your school, there will be no initial motion with increasing enrollment numbers.
You must attract and educate your prospective students on your school’s experience. Focus on your product which are the results and offerings of your institution. This should offer a lens into campus life from the experience of the student.
As a private school, balancing tradition, publicity, and a legacy story are the main ingredients for growing your student body. Allow your marketing department to make sure that their long-term marketing goals are fresh, realistic, and doable.
This article will help you conquer this process, define your niche, and grow your school through strategic marketing that sets you apart from your competitors.
How to Execute Your Private School Marketing Plan
With education moving forward in various progressive teaching styles, it is important to clearly state what the basis of your school embodies. This is completely customizable. Following this flow for cohesion will help you cover all the bases:
- Form a clear positioning statement
- Solve parents’ pain and passion points with your content
- Conduct competitive research by analyzing competitors/industry thought leaders
- Develop a vault of content assets, based on your team's ability and budget bandwidth
- Identify the most effective marketing channels and strategies
- Discover the content topics your audience craves
- Assess your organization's need for resources
- Define your unique value proposition
- Collect your marketing materials
- Create an online marketing strategy
Here’s how to do it…
Tell Your Story
Lead with your strengths. Whether it’s outstanding test scores or you have maintained a K-12 sisterhood at the only all-girls institution in your state, promote that. Parents have no problem investing in their children if it fits their needs and means.
Your executive summary maps out all of the sections of your marketing plan. We suggest you keep it on the table throughout the entire planning process. However, writing your positioning statement last will ensure your entire plan is cohesive and sticks to your institutional goals. It's your executive summary that will give you and other parties (advisors, employees, lenders, etc.) a cheat sheet of your plan and a definition of your story.
Remember, you get to frame your content. What you promote may be the first time your audience has heard about you. Make certain the unique value proposition of your institution is inviting, professional, using complete thoughts, yet concise.
Identify Your Weaknesses
Weaknesses are manageable if you are actively working on how to cure them. The first step is identifying them, and if you can do that, you can be a resilient institution. Make sure they are not hurting you among the offerings of your competitors.
However, if you have a resolution plan prepared when addressing sticking points, you will be read as proactive and self-aware. You will see how you can use your weaknesses to your advantage.
Find Hidden Opportunities
Uncovering assets you didn’t realize you had or were capable of will boost your value. Remember, your school has its niche and its market to please. You have a unique message. Use these ideas to assist existing practices to give your school a fresh, marketing facelift.
Assess External Threat(s)
Competitors aren’t the only threats you should keep an eye on. Doing a situational analysis on political factors, the global environment, and new technological advancements can help you stay prepared. If you are aware of what is happening, you can position yourself accordingly to maintain your school’s ranking.
Following Market Trends
The market trends inform you on what has yet to be developed, which customers are in need, what they require, which distribution channels should be used, or how to reduce the uncertainty that a new product/service development always brings with it.
Market advancement can be broken down into key categories of your offerings such as Spiritual Life, Organizational Structure, Academics, Student Life, Facilities, and Technology. These key areas will be determined by conducting a long-range plan so you are certain of which action items will be critical elements in the development phase of planning.
By knowing the climate of your industry, you can stay ahead of your competition. As you position yourself amongst competitors, these forward-thinking measures will make future training a breeze. Your development phase(s) will only need minor adjustments if you are always in-the-know. From here, you can focus more of your time on fostering your target audience.
Know Your Competition
Know where you stand amongst your competitors. You need to know their unique strengths, so you can make sure your school is on trend with the other local offerings. With this information, you can even shape where you can aim higher. Knowing parts of other institutions like pricing, programs offered to students, or lenders will let you know what all you are up against.
Outline Your Offerings
What sets you apart? What areas are you working on to improve your competitive edge? Why should a parent pick you over another school? See if you are up to date with helpful programs, software, and technology for students.
Review to make sure your prices are competitive. Showcase your faculty and specialists, especially if they have rare specifications as behaviorists or paraprofessionals. Emphasizing these parts of your institution’s economy drives up your value.
Each step that we outlined will help you settle comfortably within your niche. Now that you have amplified your goals, you can move forward with targeting specific segments through marketing strategies.
Types of Marketing Plans & Channels
With your competition in mind, it is best to leverage a variety of marketing plans that will boost your brand awareness. Your next steps should be intentional for upward mobility if you want to be seen as a competitor. Start with what type of plan(s) you need:
Quarterly or Annual Marketing Strategy: Quarterly and Annual Marketing cover the strategies or campaigns you’ll utilize in a certain time frame.
“Breaking News” Marketing Strategy: A “Breaking News” layout will be a roadmap for the varying ways you'll implement announcements to highlight a new award, certification, or other good news you want to communicate to your target audience.
To execute your digital and traditional media strategies, you’ll want to use a variety of channels like the following tactics:
Paid Marketing Strategy
A Paid Marketing layout highlights various paid strategies, such as native advertising, PPC, or paid social media promotions.
Paid advertising helps generate revenue or prospect leads oftentimes faster than organic advertising. You can inform and influence specific segments you are targeting more effectively with respect to your budget.
With this method, metrics will be able to be tracked more seamlessly. This will help with reporting results and measurement of success.
Here’s an example of what this looks like:
Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social Media Marketing lays out the possible campaigns, channels, and tactics, you intend to use to maximize goals specifically on social media. To have an increase in traffic to your website, social media platforms are an excellent pipeline to lead prospects to your detailed resources.
These platforms can be used to express your mission with photos, videos, or graphics. It allows you to broaden your audience for different ways to generate leads
Think of social media platforms as website extensions. It is a quick way to capture people’s attention to possibly increase enrollment. With various tactics like hashtags, you can capture the student personas you are aiming for.
Here’s an example of what this looks like:
Content Marketing Strategy
Content Marketing covers the creative assets you develop to promote your school’s offerings. These content assets could include campaigns, strategies, and tactics in an effort to express the school mission from different angles.
his marketing tactic allows for the most creative content, but with direction. Examples could be used to showcase a school tradition or awareness day. You can take a stance on a current event or give a unique edge to your campus spirit like this:
Now that you have sorted through which strategies work for your goals, get into the mind of the parent. This is what you’ll use to shape your content to reach your target audience.
Say you received a donation of laptops to allow your students the right to digital citizenship. Use the “Breaking News” Marketing plan to announce your institutional advancement across relevant channels.
This will work in your favor especially if competitors do not offer their students’ laptops. You will be viewed as an institution that values digital equity and is technologically advanced. Parents will see this as an asset to investing in their child’s education.
With each initiative, your pursuit should have a built-in goal. Your success will be seen in physical results like enrollment numbers and metrics such as interactions over a given time.
Other Ideas to Consider
In your efforts to attract a certain student persona profile, try to launch your campaigns 6 months before a specific semester comes along. Families make their decisions well in advance, especially if they have various options. So, for the Fall semester, you may want to roll out campaigns in January. You will be well-positioned when your competition begins their campaigns, also.
Get your website onto local searches. Other than Google ranking, being locatable in directories like GreatSchools.org will be helpful to get you in front of your target audience
Being innovative with financial aid will have a strong appeal to parents. Through your efforts, you remind them of your worth, yet you are not unattainable. This will show empathy for your audience. So, offer a wide range of tuition options to showcase your exclusivity and program accessibility.
Sample Marketing Plan for a Private School
Writing a marketing plan is like trying to solve a puzzle, but we are here to give you the initial push. Because only 55% of marketing teams have a documented strategy, we decided to help the content marketing community get their gears in motion by gifting a step-by-step guide.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the process of creating a marketing plan, this can help ease you into it. By sifting through countless marketing plan proposal templates, we crafted a marketing plan mock-up with instructional tools.
Here you can find a downloadable version of our plan and how you can tailor it to your institutional goals.