Your school is unique, with great faculty, carefully selected curriculum, and rigorous academic programs. Yet, without the right kind of private school marketing that builds enrollment, none of that matters! Using an inbound marketing plan allows schools to consistently grow - and that can make the difference between thriving and barely surviving in the competitive world of private education.
Here are three keys to effective private school marketing:
1. Focus on hopes and dreams.
It is important to understand the hopes and dreams of your target students and families. Why do parents enroll students in primary and secondary private education? The same reason that students enroll in trade or postsecondary school: they are working toward a dream. Understanding that dream, and including success stories and practical information about how your school leads to their dream, is an important part of inbound marketing. This should not be shared as a sales pitch, but instead offered as information that helps them on their way.
You need to address the challenges and the questions that connect to the dream. For example:
- What should a student who wants to earn a scholarship to college be doing in middle and high school?
- What kind of school environment should parents look for if they want to build strong character, athletic excellence, or academic skills?
- What are the critical steps that a postsecondary student should take to enter their dream career?
While your school is a key part of reaching these dreams, there is a larger journey that enrollment makes possible. Whether students are headed on a career, athletic, life, or academic journey, joining that conversation by providing valuable insights builds trust and increases the value of the education you provide.
2. Make great content easy to find.
Powerful stories and content aren't enough by themselves. Parents and students begin their school search on Google, and more than 80% of all clicks online happen on the first page of search. Buying ads online can be one part of the strategy, but when you do that alone you are always renting space, rather than owning that search position. Pair great content with smart search engine optimization (SEO) to get attention, and you will attract applications consistently. There is no magic approach to SEO that fits well with private education, and consistently publishing valuable content that is configured for SEO is the only sustainable approach. Private school marketing, just like in education, must focus on the long game (not just short term solutions).
Inbound marketing brings enrollment-ready students to the exploration phase.
At some point, parents and children are both making a decision to consider your school. That is not their first stop in the search process, but it is one that you want more people to reach. Your inbound strategy, full of great and practical content, will deliver prospects to exploration events. It will bring visitors with a greater level of knowledge about your school than if you skip the exploration phase. The more engaged a visitor is with the school prior to the visit, the greater the chance that the visit will lead to an immediate application. Consumers have grown used to exploring everything online before they visit, call, or shop. Paying attention to the online journey that happens before a visit will increase the number of students who visit and enroll.
With the significant cost of private education, reinforcing the enrollment decision is important. The celebration of great stories, alumni successes, and other valuable content supports retention and enrollment. If students and families read about the great experiences and opportunities that are resulting from involvement with your school, that helps them continue to feel great about their decision. This online content does not take the place of a positive experience within the school, which will result in another kind of content: social postings and reviews. But, online content is an important part of supporting the commitment to enroll and pay for private education.
3. Make it easy to share your story.
Inbound marketing puts great content in the hands of those who are exploring and those already enrolled. It keeps you on top of the search listings, and in the inbox and social feed. All of that makes it easy for happy students and families to share valuable content with their own networks. By using an inbound approach, you are putting the right information into the hands of your most powerful promoters, who can share with others in their own search and decision process.