Informative Isn't Enough: Private School Marketing has to Connect
Most people today wouldn't go to a new restaurant without checking it out online first. So why would parents send their children to a private school that has a weak web presence? Having an informative website is no longer enough. Parents and students want to feel a sense of connection. With an inbound private school marketing approach, you can build rapport with new families before they even set foot on your campus.
Inbound marketing approaches to private school marketing start with a deep understanding of the needs and interests of the parent and student. This is done by completing persona development - creating a clear picture of the families your school is seeking to reach.
Once the target audience is clear, providing content that is valuable to these families allows them to discover the school online. This content has to address the needs of the family rather than just be a sales document for the school. While that can feel counter-intuitive to the more traditional marketer, it is a critical part of the inbound approach.
Make it cohesive
Whatever the core values or guiding principle of your school, make sure it's reflected in every aspect of your online presence. For example, a school with a strong character education program should focus on content that reflects this value. The school's blog should have regular articles on the benefits of building good character. The social media accounts should celebrate and share about those students who embody the character trait of the month. Since your school wants to enroll students who are a good fit for the values you stand for, sharing about those values consistently attracts the right students.
Making your values and mission practical in your online content helps prospects to see why your values matter to them.
Authentic and visual
Whether you're picking a banner for the website, tweeting about a school event, or filling out the faculty directory, aim to pair SEO (search engine optimized) content with engaging images. Instead of putting up the standard yearbook-style picture of your teachers, hire a photographer to capture them in action. Post pictures of sweating athletes, students working in groups, or kids splattered in paint after art class. Avoiding photos that look staged will make your school appear authentic and trustworthy.
Make it social
Parents love to hear from other parents. Therefore, a healthy social network that encourages families to share information will do wonders for drawing in new students. Make a Facebook page or Twitter account for your school and manage it carefully. Designate and train a staff member to respond to questions and read reviews. Remember that any posts made to your school's social media account should line up with the school's mission and values.
Relevance in the Eye of the Beholder
When designing a marketing strategy, think carefully about what parents and students today want from a private education. For example, if the words "individualized attention" keep popping up in the content you follow, you may need to address this on your own school's website. By responding to important issues in education, you demonstrate your school's dedication to serving families. Parents will feel a connection if they perceive that their needs matter.
At the end of the day, private schools that connect online win more students. The key word here is "connect." It's not enough to just put information out there. Your online presence should make prospective families feel like part of the community. That requires putting all these elements together in an effective inbound approach.