When I was 18, I fell in love with flower markets. I’m drawn in by the variety of colors, shapes, designs, and fragrances—walking past rows of roses, daisies, and irises and vendors working beside them. While surrounded by pavement and noise, flower markets are refreshing oases for customers and passers-by. Flowers for sale naturally, powerfully draw customers in aromatically and visually.
When I think of marketing, sometimes I think of the old-school flower markets of Paris, Brussels, Rome, and other big cities. But, what could flower markets possibly have to do with school marketing?
It’s important to remember that as your school builds a reputation for being professional, musical, highly academic, etc., school marketing takes work. It will always take work. You are always selling your school to potential teachers and students, every day in every encounter. While much of your school’s reputation is built on natural, everyday experiences in your school community, it doesn’t come without conscientious effort. As you consider which school marketing strategies are best for you, we’re here to help ensure your school marketing approach is well-rounded and effective.
You might not imagine a beautiful, delicious flower market when you think about ways to improve your marketing for your school. However, just as flower vendors use their flowers’ strengths as selling points to draw their customers in, your school can do the same—and here’s how. In this blog, we will look at six of the most enticing ways to market your school.
- Keep your website fresh and updated with current events, news, and stories.
While fresh flowers generally smell amazing, old ones are repugnant. When your school community visits your school website in search of information, it’s important for them to find it au courant.
Your school website is where you offer your first impression to those you want to attract, including new students and staff. It’s also a resource to keep your current community, including staff and students, informed. We notice that many expensive private school websites are solely focused on attracting new families. This is a major marketing mistake. Because word-of-mouth marketing plays such a big role in marketing your school, you do not want to discount your current students and staff. In order to feel connected, they need to feel your school’s commitment to them as much as prospective students. Frustration rises when current staff and students are uninformed or disconnected. Connection = Support. In other words, your school community will be your school’s advocates when they feel informed and included, and you need that.
Just as radio broadcasters eschew a break of silence between programming, you must avoid outdated events, news, and stories on your school website. Keep your school website updated and encourage involvement by sharing news, expectations, goals, and processes and by being consistent.
- Incorporate Social Media Management into your school marketing plan.
Just like a beautiful bouquet often includes many different flowers, your school communications should include many different channels. Your school’s social media acts as an extension to your school website; when it comes to marketing, they are interdependent. Engagement through social media combined with your school website’s informative arm establishes a broad reach for your school to communicate with your community and prospective students and families.
Your school website and social media can and must work side by side. The synergy of the two platforms is crucial for marketing your school. For example, your social media feeds push news and updates directly to your followers and pulls them in by inviting them to see the rest of the story on your school website. Your school website and social media work harmoniously to tell people about your school and show them evidence with stories, photos, testimonials, and videos.
- Tell your school’s amazing story.
Do certain flowers spark certain memories for you? Maybe you and your grandmother used to grow sunflowers each summer or you had irises or lilies at your wedding. Stories matter. Stories connect us. They always will. And stories matter to your school community.
In terms of marketing, stories matter to current and prospective students and their families. School websites and social media for schools can work interdependently to help you tell your school’s story more completely. Just think of the many ways stories can be shared using these platforms! Use technology to improve student engagement and stay in the communication game, sharing and connecting with your school community.
- Use inbound marketing.
Since marketing isn’t what it used to be, schools find more and more competition to enroll new students and retain old ones. These days, students are not going to attend your school just because it is the closest. Your competitors vying for these same students include online schools, homeschooling, charter schools, and private schools.
While visiting a flower market in France, I watched a vendor select a beautiful flower and give it to a three-year-old girl passing by with her mother. How does this apply to your school marketing? Rather than using outbound marketing (blasting out marketing messages, hoping something will hit your targeted audience), consider the more affordable and more effective approach of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing draws customers to you when they need the information you provide or the services you offer. Known also as digital or content marketing, it is a new, affordable and effective approach to school marketing. By providing free content, you form positive relationships with potential families, and they come to see you as an expert.
- Recognize your abilities and limits regarding school public relations.
Technology has made the world incredibly connected, allowing you to reach out to your customers in unexpected ways. In today’s world, small businesses and corporations, including quaint floral shops and smaller schools and districts can reach a wider audience than ever before. With these amazing possibilities, one of the most challenging aspects of managing your school website, social media, and other various means of communication, is not having the manpower to make it all happen. But, using your school website and inbound marketing strategies, you can accomplish so much.
- Be consistent, get it done.
Time waits for no one. The early hours for flower markets demand preparation in order to be ready for customers throughout the day. As in everything, setting your goals and expectations and fleshing them out with action items and plans is critical to your school marketing success. When you talk with your school community, what are the challenges you face in school marketing? Have you received feedback from your school community about school-related strengths or concerns?
If coming up with detailed marketing steps along with creating templates, forms, references, project plans, surveys, etc. seems intimidating, consider School Webmasters Marketing Your School Calendar. Filled with practical marketing strategies and tips, the calendar is a day-to-day resource to help you throughout the school year. To successfully market your school, it is vital to create, implement, and follow through on a plan throughout the school year.
Selling your school’s strengths to prospective students and their families is important and can be a daunting task in today’s world where families typically have an abundance of options. Competition can be tough, but marketing your school in an effective way is possible, especially thanks to technology and the resources at your fingertips. You will establish a strong school marketing plan as you create and maintain a professional, user-friendly school website and allow social media to draw your customers in.
While recognizing your limits, display with pride your school community’s strengths and accomplishments through the stories you share on your school websites and various social media platforms. As you share your stories, you will establish natural and alluring pathways of inbound marketing for potential and returning customers. And don’t forget, consistency is king. As you establish a reliable approach to marketing your school, you will not be a flash-in-the-pan option for potential customers but will be seen and known as a school that cares and is passionate about not only maintaining but even seeking to improve what makes your school so great. Who could resist?
Emily Boyle, School Website Content Specialist