The school year is moving into full swing. Your offices and classrooms are humming along with the symphonies of copiers and coffee machines, lectures and laughter, beepers and bells, composing the soundtrack of a bustling school as students, teachers, and parents buzz in and out. In the midst of this cacophony, there is the ever-drumming beat of enrollment needs underscoring all you do - after all, you need students in order to function, and the clock is already ticking to start drawing them in for next year.
If you're finding it a struggle to nail down your admissions marketing strategy - or to find the time and resources to implement it well - you may already be considering working with an agency to get the ball rolling. This is no small decision, because it's no small investment. That's why we know many of our clients wonder before hiring us: "What exactly does our school get for our money?"
Well, just as you've got that aforementioned symphony serenading your busy school days and heralding a top-notch education experience for your students, the business of school marketing can likewise be akin to an orchestra. And we at Schola consider ourselves the composer and conductor.
You see, there is a myriad of pieces that work together in harmony to create a well-thought and well-executed school marketing strategy. Each has an important role in the final product, which is made richer by the unique contributions of every aspect.
Your job is to educate, and you do it well. You don't need to have the expertise of a marketing executive, PR professional, and web developer - you need to run a great school. But if the right people don't even know about you, then your work is all for naught and your mission can't be fulfilled.
Similarly, the instrumentalists in an orchestra don't need to know how to write the music. They need to play their piece with skill and precision and passion. But without a sheet of music and a conductor, the music will likely be a hot mess - or it may not even get started at all!
The role of an inbound marketing agency serves to cue and conduct the various pieces that get your message out to your future enrolled families so that the plan runs smoothly, just like a well-played concert. We write the music and set the symphony in motion, then keep our hands, ears, and eyes on each player in order to ensure they are coming in at the right time and pace.
Let's take a look at the various "instruments" in an inbound campaign for schools that your agency's retainer will likely cover:
Percussion: Web Development
An agency has highly skilled web developers on hand (whether through partnerships or on staff) to help your website stay fresh and do its job as your front door to the world. Your website is your most valuable and most crucial marketing tool, and it can make or break a parent's decision to pursue you in person depending on how well you present yourself and engage your audience. Make sure you place it in capable hands.
For a school to do blogging effectively, you must post relevant consistently, keep your messages in line with your school or organization's brand, write material that speaks directly to your target parents and their pain points, and create posts that line up with the rest of your marketing initiatives. From planning out editorial calendars, to creating compelling calls to action, to ensuring keyword optimization and more, an agency can train your writers and help manage your blog to keep it working full-time for your school.
Brass: Graphic Design
Visually appealing, clean, and current design plays a big part in determining whether your online material gets noticed. An agency will create web buttons, banner ads, social media graphics, and more that put out the premier, professional vibe you want to present, making a difference between a parent clicking on your offer or passing you by for the next, more put-together school.
Woodwinds: Social Strategy
Which platforms work best for which messages and audiences? What are the newest features that organizations need to implement? How about the latest trends on how your target parent audience uses social media? Do you really have the time to keep up with all of this? An agency will adeptly handle it and keep your posts on point.
Soloists: Premium Content
Webinars, ebooks, and videos - oh my! From putting together compelling calls-to-action to developing content outlines and plans, coaching your webinar presenters to capturing and following up with leads, an agency has got you covered to make sure that the impressions you make with these sometimes daunting projects are memorable for all the right reasons.
Beyond these major tasks outlined above, an agency will work on your behalf to keep a finger on the pulse of trends in education, internet usage and marketing, and all things relevant to keeping your school at the forefront, and then helping you finesse your strategies to match their findings.
Keeping a birds' eye view allows the agency to make you more effective, since an instrumentalist's view is usually limited to those in their section or the one just adjacent to them. Additionally, as the conductor, an agency will call out your strengths to help them truly shine and coach your staff and volunteers to spread your message beautifully.
An agency who is knowledgeable in your particular line of business (like private school or ministry) will have an arsenal of best practices and well-honed processes that help you avoid or expertly handle hiccups and keep your school admissions marketing machine chugging all year long (you know, so you don't end up panicking in February to come up with a way to get the enrollment numbers rolling in).
In a sense, that's a big way that we serve as a composer and conductor. An agency partner will help you draw up a plan that works, and then faithfully wave their baton to keep all of those above sections playing on cue, so that you can focus on providing the best education experience for your families and community.
One more note
Maybe you already have some accomplished "instrumentalists" already on your team. Great! We'll complement and provide context for their work and fill in the gaps, and your package will reflect your unique needs. An agency's value lies in their ability to support and promote your mission, freeing you and your staff up to carry it out. And that, we hope, is sweet music to a school administrator's ears.