Digital Strategies and School Marketing Go Hand in Hand
Digital marketing should be the main focus of any school’s marketing plan. Whether it’s through social media, a website, or other means, subtle digital marketing tactics can make a significant difference in your school’s marketability, enrolments, revenue and profitability. In current times we know that traditional marketing only reaches a limited market and might only achieving branding and awareness.Gone are the days of sharing fliers in shopping malls as a core strategy.
What digital strategies work best?
It is certainly the era of digital mediums. News, shopping, marketing, relationships and almost all we do has some connection to a digital platform. Advertisers now focus on digital rather than print media as their preferred channel.
Social media has become the preferred channel including sharing of content and placement of advertisements in appropriate social media contexts.
The table below highlights the most preferred and successful mediums for digital marketing across most industries and we believe it is true for schools.
However, it must be said, Global Services in Education (GSE) operates in several countries and we know that all countries and cultures are different. The first thing we always investigate is the platforms that are relevant for each unique context. In China it may be Weibo and Wechat. In Vietnam and South America it might be Facebook. Each market might also be split and targeting a number of them with varying degrees of time and investment might be worthwhile. Also, the types of content we engage with different audiences can be different. Never assume that your own personal consumer habits are the same as your target audience.We must stand in someone else’s shoes to understand their needs
Understand Your Market (Parents)
No digital marketing strategy will be effective if you don’t first have a clear understanding of who buys your product and why they buy it. Where and how they buy it may or may not be relevant as well. Schools are the same. Who are your parents and what do they care most about?
Carefully consider your position in the market. Be careful about pricing and discounts. Parents of premium schools may not find discounts directly appealing. Discount programs do not usually match luxury branding. On the other hand some demographics and cultures seek out discounts and price points. Get inside the minds and consumer habits of your target audience and align your strategies to them.
Understand culture, gender and other lenses that may filter decisions by the parents also. Chinese parents are different to British parents. Mothers may be different to Fathers. Their questions are different and what appeals to them might be different. Having worked in almost all regions of the world GSE has certainly needed to stay nimble and open minded when we consider satisfying the needs of different markets and target groups. What motivates and satisfies you may be out of sync with the parents you are trying to reach. Listen. Listen. Listen to the questions parents ask and what seems to be a regular pattern during your interactions with them. One parent might ask questions about destination universities ands what the 12 year cost of such a plan might be. Another might ask about the teacher profile, safety, nutrition and daily routines. Some ask detailed questions. Others ask big picture questions. Listen and learn.
Stay Nimble and Adapt
The truth with digital marketing is that it can be a bit of a trial and error process. You need to create a plan but you also have to be flexible with:
- Shifting SEO patterns
- Upcoming trends
- Your content calendar and timeline
- One or two social channels only (the ones that perform best)
- Which KPIs to focus on
- When to get progress reports, where you can discuss and regroup
A successful strategy will require continual monitoring and adjusting. It may also be worthwhile hiring outside consultants to help you dig through your metrics and redefine goals if something doesn’t seem to be working the way it was planned. (Cost – Be careful and work with a critical friend who understands the value of their services)
Create a crystal clear profile of your audience and inform your strategies by:
- Defining the channels that fit key demographics best
- Speaking their language, considering that “language” isn’t just words
- Understanding their pain points and how to switch on emotions
- Creating useful personas for each of your demographics to help you visualize their lives and predict buying patterns
- Being culturally aware
- Considering unique partnerships such as with influencers
- Focusing on action-oriented experiences and results rather than the product itself
- Using well-developed automation tools for highly detailed segmentation and targeting
Use Content for Lead Generation
There are many ways of generating leads, but one tried and tested method is by providing valuable content and distributing it appropriately. In schools we believe there are a few very efficient ways to do so:
- Share images, video and material that is created through normal school practices every day. Rather than manufacturing new content, capture best practice and shine a light on it. Smiling faces, great experiences and real footage is powerful. Choose images that reflect your key marketing levers. Symbolism, metaphors and iconic reflects of who you are.
- Publish blogs that demonstrate that your school leadership are educators, intellectual and they understand best practice. Ask your leaders to write short blogs (less than 200 words) on topics that justify best practice in your school. Make them relatable and insightful.
- Publish video that brings parents into your world. Interview teachers, students (as appropriate), parents and leaders so that they can develop relationships with the human side of your school. Schools are not curriculum, buildings and grades alone. They are about people. Share authentic insights into the people who children will spend their educational lives with.
- Share success. Tell the very real stories of success at all levels so that it remains relatable. Tell people about the very best students but also about the small steps. Demonstrate that you value all ranges of achievement and ensure you are celebrating examples from all target audiences.
- Use live video on platforms. Live video on most platforms is fed to the audience immediately and prompts interaction. It is also valuable because of its authenticity. It does not always need to be rehearsed and polished. being authentic, especially in a school context is important. It is also sometimes better to share something real than to wait several weeks until you have time to be polished.
- With permission*, post real image and video of your school that is likely to get reposted by members of your community. This consequently expands your social media reach without cost.
*Different countries, schools and contexts will have varying laws and policies that restrict publishing of student images and video.
Break Down Your Target Audience
Remember that a school audience is potentially Kindergarten to Grade 12 and beyond. The same strategies will not satisfy the needs of kindergarten parents verse parents who are preparing their children for university entrance. A strategy within a strategy, branding within branding and different messages for different demographics are very important. Consider academic motivators as well as value and belief motivators. Make sure your content and messages reach all the different segments of an audience that is not the same across all cohorts.
Strong management teams build effective organisations, in all industries, and marketing teams deliver the the results.
For further details about how GSE helps schools improve marketing plans, increase revenue and enrolments, contact us soon.
GSE’s core business is to set up, manage and improve schools throughout all regions of the world.
Our extensive team is well recognised as being “education experts” who know how to operate schools in unique and varied contexts.
Contact us to explore ways that we can support, improve and accelerate your school’s performance.
CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry
Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.
Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.
Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.