Is it just me or do new year resolutions have a bad rap? I understand why of course. New habits are hard to set, old habits are hard to change, and most new year resolutions go unfulfilled.
It’s unfortunate, especially since I love the idea of setting goals and striving for improvement. And striving for improvement where education and our schools are concerned is vital! If there’s one thing I hope you will resolve to do better this year, it’s market your school.
Maybe that sounds a little self-serving—I can almost hear you asking, “Shouldn’t we be improving the quality of education we provide? Or improving the facilities for our students?” Yes, of course! Do those things. But chances are your school is going to be doing them anyway—no resolution needed.
I want you to market your school better because this year your parents, students, and community members deserve to know the great things you are doing for their benefit. Doing so will help them to be more involved and excited about the improvements you’re making to the quality of education you’re providing. I want the students to be proud of your facilities, and I want you to show off those facilities to the rest of the community.
Marketing is a key school communications function, and it’s one that is often underutilized or sometimes completely ignored.
Because I think school marketing needs to be a priority this year (and every year), I will share three steps that will help you not only make but keep this new year resolution!
Step 1: Align your marketing agenda to your school values
When our goals are aligned to our core values, it helps us bridge the gap between setting a goal and taking action. In order to understand why school marketing is essential, it’s important to understand how it connects to your school values.
In its simplest form, school marketing is how people see and feel about your school. In other words, it comprises what your school stands for (your image), how people see your school (public perception), and how people feel about your school (public investment).
Marketing is more than attracting ideal families and increasing enrollment. Your marketing efforts should engage parents, community members, and students and encourage them to invest in and adopt your school values.
So what are your school’s core values? In what ways do you share and communicate those values with your community?
Marketing causes us to raise the bar, offer unique services, target specific needs, and most importantly, let our communities know what we are doing. When we do this well, we bring about even greater student success because effective communication and marketing encourages parent support and student investment, and there is ample evidence that engaged parents mean better student outcomes. That’s our ultimate goal, isn’t it?
Step 2: Connect your marketing efforts to the why
No one should market for marketing’s sake. Before you even begin thinking about a marketing plan, decide what you want to accomplish with your school marketing efforts and also ask yourself why—why do you want to pursue whatever your goal is? Understanding why you want to accomplish something helps you invest at an emotional level in achieving your goal.
Most of the time we’re so concerned with how to market our schools that we overlook the foundational why we should be doing it. Back when the neighborhood public school was the only game in town, marketing wasn’t necessary. Parents today have choices—sometimes lots of choices. They are not only looking for a quality education for their child, they are looking for a school best suited for their child’s unique needs and interests. Marketing your school is the key to winning the trust and confidence of parents and your community.
You’re probably well aware that schools are under tremendous financial and political pressure. The last thing you want is the media controlling public perception. Marketing is the opportunity to take control of your story and provide information to the public in your own words.
The following are a few other areas where effective school marketing has a huge impact:
- Student enrollment
- Funding increases (taxes, tuition, fund raising)
- Quality teacher recruitment
- Parent engagement and support
- Student performance
- Staff morale
- Student spirit
- Building trust and confidence
If you truly understand the why, you’ll become excited and invested in your marketing efforts; and the excitement you show in your school marketing will carry over to your community.
School marketing is a wonderful, multifaceted element of your school’s everyday operations. And the truth is, if you’re not actively engaged in your school marketing efforts, you’re really just doing a poor job marketing.
Step 3: Gather knowledge and resources
In order to succeed in your marketing efforts, you are going to need a solid combination of knowledge and the right resources.
As far as knowledge goes, the good news is you don’t need a communications degree—you’ve got us! And with a combined bachelors and masters degrees, and 35 years of corporate and nonprofit communications experience, our team is brimming with knowledge ready for sharing.
One of our goals this year at School Webmasters is to help schools make rockstar school marketing happen with the resources you have available. So be sure to subscribe and join us as we share marketing tips, resources, and inspiration to assist your school marketing efforts.
If you haven’t already, subscribe to our company blog. It’s one more resource for your school. We cover a range of topics to help schools manage their online presence, including website management, leadership, customer service, telling your stories, etc.
2017 is the year to leave behind any excuses for why you’re not marketing your school; stick with us and we’ll help you market your school like a rockstar!
Katie Brooks, School Public Relations Specialist