In its most simple form, marketing is the act of getting people interested in a product or service.
In our case, with marketing for schools, we want to get parents, and students interested in our schools and micro-schools.
However, before they become interested, they have to become aware that we even exist and that we are the solution to their need.
This is a unique problem that public schools are not faced with, and more traditional private schools have big budgets to run successful marketing campaigns.
Those running small schools wish we could be so lucky. Don’t despair! There is hope for the smaller guys.
With the right plan of action, you can implement micro-school marketing strategies that will have you competing right alongside the “big” schools.
You just need a simple marketing plan that will increase awareness of your school and get parents interested in the educational services you have to offer.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as the perfect school marketing plan, no matter what type of school it is, and that the best type of marketing takes time.
That said, the most effective marketing strategies for schools will not happen overnight. You want your marketing to help you build trust, and building trust takes time. Let’s go!
Marketing for Schools 101
Marketing Strategies for Schools #1: Define Your Value Proposition
The first task in the list of micro-school marketing strategies we will cover is to define your value proposition.
A value proposition is a clear statement that states the benefit your parents/student will receive by enrolling in your school.
One key aspect of marketing is messaging. What are your prospective parents and students reading about you? I hope they read how your school will meet the unique needs of its students.
The value that your school provides should be front and center in some way or another in everything you do.
For example, The Village Schools has its value proposition displayed prominently on the school’s home page.
It’s clear that they value a Christian education that prepares students to navigate a global world. In addition, the school takes a community approach to ensure a student excels academically and socially.
This message is very clear. It gives you a little sample of the values of this school in addition to the culture and what a parent can expect if their children enroll and become students.
Clearly expressing your message will help establish your uniqueness in a crowded field. Potential families will see what sets your school apart from others.
Just to make sure you are clear on the value proposition, I would like to share my personal value proposition. I realize that as school founders, we also market ourselves.
At the beginning of my journey, I wholeheartedly used my personal brand as leverage to help raise awareness of my school, and now I help other teachers, like me, start micro-schools.
Here is my value proposition: I help frustrated teachers create and scale their own micro-schools so that both teachers and students thrive.
Marketing for Schools Strategies #2 Create/Update Website
You may be scratching your head, asking the question, “Didn’t we work on the website when we did our branding?”
It can get complicated, but yes, you did. Branding and marketing, although different, are very much connected. Branding is who you are, and marketing is how you build awareness.
Both branding and marketing use similar tools when delivering their messages. In this case, the website. The website indeed expresses your identity—who you are.
However, in this case, the website is used to raise awareness. The website is your online hub; it’s your digital real estate.
Your website is the place where current and prospective families can access information about your school, contact your admission office, and connect to your portal.
Digital Marketing for Schools Strategy #3
Digital marketing for schools is simply another fancy name for online marketing. It refers to all marketing efforts that occur on the internet.
Your website is the backbone of your marketing plan because it plays an important role in digital marketing.
All of the techniques used for micro-school marketing strategies are used to attract people to your website to learn more and hopefully express interest in enrolling.
The question you should be asking yourself is, “How do I get people to my website?” If you are wondering that, then you are tracking right with me.
There are several ways. Keep reading!
Marketing Strategies for Schools #4 Create A Blog
Do you remember at the beginning of this article that I told you that it could take time to feel and see the benefits of your marketing effort?
Many people underestimate the importance of utilizing a blog on their website. Blogs are the cornerstone of organic traffic.
Because of SEO and maintaining a blog on your website, Google can put you right in front of your target market for FREE. You read correctly—for FREE.
There is one catch. It does take time, but it’s so worth it. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate this.
Using a blog, you can kill two birds with one stone.
You can use it to help boost your ranking on Google, parents, students, and potential families can follow what’s being taught, and you can use it to further establish your authority in the field of education.
Whether you are updating or creating a new website, ensure the following:
- I recommend using WordPress for your website and Hostinger for hosting.
- Make sure you include a blog.
- Ensure that your website is SEO-optimized.
- Optimize your website for mobile phones.
Although it will take time for you to see the benefits of a blog, it’s worth the effort upfront for the payoff later.
Marketing for Schools #5 Use Social Media Platforms
Marketing Plans for Schools Should Include Social Media Channels
Social media platforms are powerful, and they really do level the playing field for small businesses. Therefore, we have to take advantage of some of them.
Before deciding which platform(s) you want to be on, identify the ones your target audience is on and uses the most. In addition, which one are you better at using?
It’s better to pick one and post consistently than to have Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube and not post consistently.
In the article I wrote on How to Start a School, I encouraged those readers to develop an avatar of their targeted audience—a person. Who is she or he?
If you know who this person is, then you will know which platforms you need to include in your marketing plans for schools.
My avatar is a woman between the ages of 30-60 who is the parent of a child with a disability. As a result of this information, I determined that Facebook is a good platform.
Facebook is more popular with adults aged 25–44, while Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are more popular among teens.
I also use YouTube. If you are not comfortable, then don’t swat it. Play where your strengths are.
Other School Marketing Ideas to Help Increase Enrollment & Gain Awareness
If you want faster results, looking into digital advertising might be where you want to start. This type of marketing can be very effective for schools, even small ones.
In addition, digital advertising has a key advantage over traditional advertising and that is being able to be more precise when targeting your demographics.
This type of marketing isn’t so much expensive, but if you have to pay someone else to set it up, that’s what drives up the cost. However, it could be worth it.
Again, I would say go into your marketing plan with the idea that something will take time. Digital advertising will help, but if you are a small school it may not be sustainable.
Micro-School Marketing Strategies #6 Online Reviews
When shopping on Amazon, how often do you check out the reviews first before actually deciding to order the item?
What about your doctor? I am sure you looked them up and wanted to read about the experiences of the people who currently see that doctor and those in the past.
According to an article in Forbes, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business or paying for a service.
So, asking your families, including your students, to write reviews online about their positive experiences with your school is so important and should be a part of your micro-school marketing strategy.
Be creative in how you approach your parents and students about making these online reviews if they are not doing them as often as they could.
You can always incentivize the review process by giving away some kind of prize. You can even make it an assignment for your students.
I am sure you teach writing, and I hope you are teaching students about all forms of writing, especially since the digital world is part of our everyday lives.
You could totally teach a lesson on reviewing products and services. In doing so, you are teaching kids how to use their voice and how powerful it is.
Last but not least, you could politely ask for reviews in your monthly newsletter.
Marketing for Schools #7 Use Webinars
What I’ve learned is that people are 1.) busy, and 2.) they like to make decisions without feeling like they have to make them on the spot.
Having in-person interest meetings is awesome and should be part of your marketing plan for your school; however, using a webinar would be an awesome second option.
People who didn’t want to come or couldn’t come to your in-person interest meeting will have the option to watch it from the comfort of their homes.
If they reach back out, that would be a great sign. You could also market the video to get more eyes on it and follow up with a phone call.
Micro-School Marketing Strategies #8 Keep Your Brand Consistent
I would be remiss if I didn’t add this. Now you may be like “dah” but some people don’t understand the importance of having a consistent brand. Learn more here.
You should keep a consistent brand across all social media platforms you engage your community and potential families on.
Whether it’s online or in person, your families should experience the same school brand.
This means at an in-person interest meeting, families see school colors, logo, etc., and they should encounter that same logo and see those same colors in your webinar.
Keep it consistent!!
No matter what they come into contact with regarding your school, it should have the same look and feel as much as possible. So, keep a consistent look with these:
- Social Media Platforms
- School IDs (Students & Staff)
When you look at all these are they similar? When your families see these would they be able to say, “This is ABC school?”
If I am honest, I thought of NONE of this, and I am sure it didn’t help my cause. But the bright side is that I know now and it’s all a work in progress, but it’s coming along.
Marketing for Schools #9 Word of Mouth
You got it!! Word of Mouth is for sure one of the BEST ways to market your school, in my opinion. Now there is so much you can’t control with this method.
That is why you should not rely on it alone. However, if you are serving your students well, tell your parents to spread the word to other families who might be interested.
Do you know that old saying about being worth its weight in gold? That is what word of mouth is. Personal recommendations go a long way.
You don’t have to work so hard. When a family comes to you as a result of the recommendation of another family, they have done most of the work for you.
So get your parents to talk about your wonderful school.
Micro-School Marketing Strategies #10 Direct Mail
Snail mail is slow, but it’s not dead. Direct mail is still very relevant. When done strategically, it can make a huge impact.
Some schools are mailing students acceptance boxes with branded items. If you have a small school and enroll only a few kids a year, this could be a great idea.
Can you imagine how impressed the parents would be and how excited your new student would be? You would have brownie points for sure.
Micro-School Marketing Strategies #11 Email
Lastly, you can create an email automation that will send out an email nurture series. In these emails, you can speak directly to your family’s pain points.
Tell them how your school’s practices will address the needs of their child.
Remember, this is a journey, not a sprint. It takes time and refinement. You will always be experimenting with something or another. Some things work, and others don’t.
Don’t be afraid to take the slow road. The efforts you put in today will surely pay off tomorrow if you hang in there.
I am always working on more ways to help teachers like me to be more efficient as they run and scale their small schools.
Your digital footprint is worth growing; start now and be consistent.
Other things you might be interested in…
Unlike what I’ve taught you in this article, my marketing presentation is aimed at telling the story of the need for my micro-school for students with disabilities. We rely on donations and volunteers, so I am always out presenting about my school to a local business or Rotary Club, trying to get their support. You might find this helpful on your journey as well.