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3 School Marketing Pitfalls to Avoid

Posted by Ralph Cochran on Oct 17, 2015 7:00:00 AM

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When it comes to school marketing, the more prospective parents your school can attract, the better your chances of growing your school enrollment to a sustainable level.  Are your school marketing efforts bringing the number of prospects to your door that you need to achieve your enrollment goals?


If not, here are three common school marketing pitfalls you might need to overcome in order to achieve your goals:

Pitfall #1: Failure to Understand Today’s Buying Process

Before the dawn of the internet, consumers relied upon sales representatives to provide them with the information they needed to make a buying decision.  In recent years, however, much of the information previously available only to a few is now accessible to many at the touch of a button.  For schools, this means the parents who once had to call or visit the school to obtain the information they needed to address their children’s educational needs or learn more about your school are now able to find this information online or through other sources.

Imagine Mary Smith, whose son Johnny is enrolled in public school.  As a committed Christian, Mary is deeply troubled about some of the content being taught at the school.  She is also concerned about the friends Johnny is making in the secular environment.  Her worry causes her to start researching local Christian schools.

If your school only pays attention to those parents who have called or made a visit to your school, you are never going to meet Mary Smith and her son Johnny.  You don’t want to wait for Mary to find you.  Instead, you want to be proactive in your private school marketing and reach out to Mary Smith as she is researching alternatives.  Adopting an inbound marketing strategy is an effective way to accomplish this.

Pitfall #2: Failure to Define Your Target Audience

How are you going to meet Mary Smith as she is engaged in the process of researching alternatives?  It is highly likely that Mary Smith is using the internet to search for alternative educational options for Johnny.  To capture her attention, you want your school to rank highly in the organic internet searches that Mary is conducting.  And, when she visits your website, you want to make sure the content she finds there shows her your school is a good option for Johnny.

So how do you rank highly in organic internet searches for prospects like Mary?  By creating buyer personas, or fictional representations of your ideal school prospects.  For example, Mary is a Christian parent who has become disappointed with public schools and has a unique set of challenges and goals.  Once you’ve identified those challenges and goals, you can identify relevant internet search terms and craft website content that will attract prospects like Mary and provide them with useful information and invite them to contact your school and set up a visit.

Developing buyer personas is an essential part of a private school marketing strategy.

school marketing representative

Pitfall #3: Failure to Connect with Prospects

Now the rubber hits the road!  Based on your effective private school marketing strategy, Mary Smith has picked up the phone to contact your school.  What is she going to experience?  If she experiences a warm, caring person on the other side of the line, it is going to reinforce her sense that this is the right school for her son.  On the other hand, if her contact with the school admissions department is guided by a forced, cookie-cutter questionnaire, she might become discouraged.

You need to be able to truly connect with prospective parents who contact you.  Find out why they are interested in your school and let them know you care about them and their children.  Training your staff to be empathetic should be an important part of your school marketing strategy.

Private school marketing is a complex process, one that starts long before prospects contact you.  It often begins when they identify an issue or pain point that needs to be addressed.  Your task as as school leader is to capture their attention, either through your website or word-of-mouth marketing, and help nurture them along along this process by providing attractive and helpful content, leading them to contact your school and then nurturing that relationship as you help guide them in making an enrollment decision.

Look inside a school website built for attracting prospects. Join our webinar: The anatomy of a school inbound website. From Schola Inbound Marketing by ralph cochran


Topics: Private School Marketing, School Marketing