“You don’t need to brag; when you do a good job, people will notice.”
Dear readers, this is a lie! The truth is people are so involved with their own priorities that if your job does not directly influence their day-to-day activities, your hard work fades into the background. If you want to be noticed—you need to market your school!
Stop. I know what you’re thinking. “But education does affect the everyday activities of our customers.” Yes, but not in a way to make your audience take note of you. For example, think about your primary care physician. You probably go there because, well, you’ve always gone there. In fact, you probably take your kids there too. Why? Because that’s just what you do. When do you ever really think about changing your doctor’s office? Maybe because you’ve moved to a new area. Or maybe because the last time you were at the doctor you had to wait a half an hour past your appointment time, didn’t feel like the doctor spent enough time discussing your needs, and the prescription had some negative side effects. Chances are, if your doctor’s office doesn’t meet your expectations, you’ll start looking for a new one.
The educational arena works in a similar fashion. In reality, the majority of people aren’t putting a lot of thought into where their kids attend school. Most are likely to send their kids to whatever kind of school they went to without ever considering other options. Unless, of course, an issue comes up where a school isn’t meeting their needs; then they start exploring other options.
So let’s start talking about you. Why? Because talking about your school—that is, marketing your school—helps manage who you are and how others perceive you. If I were keen to throw around jargon, I’d call this “branding.” In essence it’s bragging about your specialized programs and highlighting your unique teaching methods, placing the spotlight on your stellar staff. Marketing helps you take charge of your reputation and identify your school as the school of choice.
The first people your marketing is going to reach are your current customers—students and parents with students already attending. This is perfect—not only for your marketing but also for your school public relations! You need this audience to be aware of the great things you are doing. You need them to know the qualifications and credentials that make your school their school of choice.
Back to your primary care physician. Let’s say you knew your doctor’s qualifications and specializations. She was top of her class, is one of the most in-demand doctors in the area, and has a specialized focus on children with allergies. In other words, she is the best doctor to fit your needs. If you’re aware of how great your doctor is and how perfect she is for you, you’re more likely to let the subpar experience of that last visit slide.
Letting your customers know about your qualifications and specializations as a school does the same thing for you! It not only increases customer awareness of the amazing things your school does on a daily basis, but it also builds long-term trust and confidence in you.
Here’s an example: Most schools practice early release days every now and then. Chances are, all your students know about these days is that—Whoohoo—they are getting out of class early! And your parents? All they know is they have to remember to pick up Mary and Joe early. Or maybe they have to get someone else to pick them up and arrange for a sitter after school that day. Marketing, when done right, will help overcome the inconvenience posed to the parent by letting them know that because of that early release day, your teachers participated in a two hour professional development program. Maybe the results of which was that Mary’s teacher Ms. Smith came away with three key tools to better help her teach her students complex information. Ms. Smith was able to use these tools to teach Mary how to improve her spelling and no longer dread weekly spelling tests. Maybe Joe’s teacher Mrs. Fields came away from the professional development seminar with a better understanding of how to engage her students in a love of learning. As a result, she now has a game-plan for helping Joe overcome his fear of reading aloud and hopes to help him find enjoyment in the reading process.
See where we’re coming from? Marketing helps your target audience understand what’s involved in the day-to-day decisions of your school. Tell your stories on social media; use your school website to brag about your school. Simple awareness helps your school improve its reputation and perception and creates enthusiasm for your organization that transfers from your primary audience to the community. This enthusiasm will translate into eager support for your school.
Maybe you’re not sure what to talk about. Ask yourself this question: What makes your school great? Maybe there’s one thing that stands out above the rest—maybe there’s three. Look at what you’re doing well; look at what makes you unique—these are your bragging rights!
The key to marketing your school is focus. Your target audience is searching for its ideal fit; marketing is how you attract and engage your ideal customer. Remember, you’re not trying to attract everyone. A “one-size-fits-all” approach undermines any work you did to differentiate your school from the other options. Your messages must focused. Are you trying to attract the athletes? The college bound? The special needs? You want to craft key messages about what makes your school different, and then aim them at a target audience.
Back to our doctor example: If you really believe you have the best doctor in the area and your friend makes this post to Facebook asking, “I need a new primary care physician for my family, any recommendations?” You’d be one of the first to chime in, “I love my doctor so-and-so; we’ve been going to her for years!” Dear readers, THIS is the beautiful thing about marketing. If you do it right and do it consistently, soon your audience will toot your horn for you. But it has to start with you.
As a school, marketing lets your current audience know what a great job you do every single day, and it shows people who are searching for alternative options why you should be their school of choice. In summary, marketing connects who you are and what you offer with your customers. Your reputation and customer perception as a school is dependent on your ability to toot your own horn, and when it’s done right, marketing becomes a vital tool for school management.
Get started now!
- Make a list of what makes your school great, unique, and special! (*hint* The best school websites will include this information on their homepage.)
- Write a paragraph about the type of student and parent you want to attract.
- Write a paragraph about the type of certified staff you want to attract.
- Download our eBook and create a marketing plan to make your school successful.