It’s all supposed to be simple, right?
Back “in the day” when you wanted to market your private school, you just had to make sure you printed out colorful postcards with your next open house dates and a picture of one of your cute, smiling students.
Whether you gave them out by hand or you mailed your postcards to prospects on a targeted list who “might” be interested in your school, it was a simple, yet iffy task.
Fortunately, not anymore.
The days of spray and pray marketing are long gone. You can no longer spray out various marketing materials and hover over the phone praying it will ring.
In this blog I want to share with you some favorite books that have enlightened and educated me over the years as I have aimed to help hundreds of schools grow their enrollment. Before diving into those books, let me give a little context to compare inbound marketing to traditional marketing.
In the past 20 years, as a variety of private schools have emerged across the country, so has the need to make your school more competitive. Advancements in Technology have changed the world of communication and marketing. In 2018, having a handful of postcards simply won’t cut it. Nor will TV, radio, print advertisements, and other forms of traditional media be effective in reaching Millennial parents. In fact, these tools may very well be too expensive for your budget.
The internet has allowed school marketing strategies to advance to a new level. This new frontier allows private school leaders to target the right audience with meaning stories and messages that meaningfully resonate with prospective parents. The best news is that it’s affordable!
However, this does not mean it is easy to implement and be successful at inbound digital marketing strategies. An inbound marketing strategy which takes places primarily online requires school leaders to persist through a challenging learning curve. The challenge comes in the form of a clear strategy that makes sense out of all the technological options as well as the actual technical skills to carry them out.
For example, it’s one thing to have access to Facebook ads and another completely different thing to be able to run a Facebook ad campaign that produces increased attendance at school open houses and tours.
Have you heard about Inbound Marketing? You may have, especially now with how prevalent it is in the business world. Schools that are taking the best marketing practices of the business world and applying them to their school are making huge strides against their competitors. Taking advantage of the benefits of the internet, inbound marketing is the most efficient, trackable, cost-effective marketing strategy that your school can adopt.
What exactly is Inbound Marketing and when would you want to use these strategies in your school’s growth plan?
As per Hubspot, when you want to use Inbound Marketing:
“Using Inbound Marketing at your private school is about creating content that is going to be found by your target parents and/or students on Google and in social media. This content lives on your school’s blog and website, and is targeted at solving the problems and answering the questions your target audiences -- or personas -- are searching for online.”
So there’s a bit of a lot to take note here, as we’ve previously mentioned, Inbound Marketing does come with a few steps in its learning curve. You may want to immediately jump in. The big question is: “Where do I start?”
Here at Schola, it’s our mission to guide you with how your school can adopt an Inbound Marketing philosophy that stretches across your website, content offers, blog, social media strategy, even your Admissions office. However, we’re sure you have many questions that you need to be answered prior to making that big jump. We completely understand, and we’d like to point you in the right direction.
Read And Research
Inbound Marketing is a philosophy and methodology for attracting mission appropriate prospective parents to your private sch ool. It relies on Content Marketing, as well as Word-of-Mouth Marketing, just to name a few strategies . We’ll narrow it down for now, for easier consumption. We want to introduce you to these concepts by recommending some reading material so that you can learn and understand the fundamentals at your own pace.
School Marketing Favorite Books Recommended By Schola:
Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online
By Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
This book is the foundation of the Inbound Marketing movement. Written by the marketers who founded Hubspot, this updated and revised edition of the book is considered to have launched the Inbound Marketing movement. Containing essential concepts and strategies that push the move towards Inbound Marketing, while moving away from an Outbound (or Traditional) Marketing strategy.
Explaining what a company can accomplish by adopting an Inbound strategy, reputation, and tracking progress, the authors also explain in detail the importance of online visibility, engagement and why content matters. They also delve into essential tools and resources that can help build effective marketing strategies.
It’s also said to be a comprehensive guide, containing the latest information about customers’ behavior and their preferred digital experiences. The book explains these shifts or behavioral changes and how to turn them into opportunities to convert your website’s visitors into leads, and eventually into customers.
Since you’re starting out with Inbound Marketing, this book is a must-read. It starts with the basics on what Inbound Marketing is, and how to get found by prospects. It then moves into deeper concepts, such as converting visitors into leads, and into customers, as well as making better marketing decisions.
The tone is written in an upbeat tone that is easy to read and actionable. The authors present all of the information into organized, easy-to-digest sections, complete with to-do lists at the end of each chapter.
This updated version includes new material on viral marketing, startup marketing, and the impact of social media on search.
They Ask, You Answer
By Marcus Sheridan
I am a fan of Marcus Sheridan and have even referred business to him in the past and sent my staff to be trained by him. He is a legend in the inbound marketing community. This is one of the most recognized books available if you need a primer on Content Marketing. In it, Sheridan recounts how his pool company struggled after the housing collapse in 2008. He managed to survive it, and it’s now one of the largest pool installers in the country. So successful, in fact, that they can afford to turn away millions of dollars in possible business simply because they could not accommodate it every year.
The key to his success? He answered his customers’ questions.
Capitalizing on his website and the Internet, Sheridan relied on quality content. This consisted of blogs that his salespeople wrote, compiled from all the answers that his salespeople gave their customers. Recurring topics and issues eventually translated to a substantial amount of content that was then easily searchable on Google, catapulting Sheridan’s company to the top of these search results.
Filled with stories of actual experience, backed up by case studies and statistics, the book’s main point is in giving your potential customers the value they want, and they will, in turn, convert themselves into revenue, and more importantly, become your brand’s ambassadors.
This book will show you how to build a strong structure for an effective content strategy from the usual, proven marketing principles, without having to resort to the money drain of traditional media. It also lays out concepts clearly, while presenting real-life examples at the same time.
Also, the best message the book points out is how to be a teacher and not a salesperson. In helping them get their answers, you also get the content you need that brings in the exposure and revenue.
Sheridan’s book became widely recognized, that he was interviewed by the New York Times, where he again emphasizes the importance of writing blogs.
Word of Mouth Marketing
The Passion Conversation: Understanding, Sparking, and Sustaining Word of Mouth Marketing
By Robbin Phillips, Greg Cordell, Geno Church, John Moore
"NO PASSION, NO CONVERSATION.
NO CONVERSATION, NO WORD OF MOUTH.
NO WORD OF MOUTH, NO SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS.”
The front flap of the book contains the quote above, stating what you’ll find inside its pages: a call to continuously discover what your customers’ passions are in order to succeed. In working inside the marketing business, you need to help people to fall in love with your organization.
Backed-up with the latest in academic research and presenting practical, real-world stories, the book shows how any company can spark and sustain word of mouth marketing. You’ll get essential advice and insights for igniting passion in your customers, as well as employees. Also learn how, in loving your customers, you not only build a thriving community but also succeed in your business.
In reading this book, there are various case studies, as well as real stories that provide enough insight to provide guidelines as marketers, business leaders, and even as individuals.
The book also discusses the possibilities, opportunities, and challenges of modern communication, which every school marketer should be aware of.
Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking
By Andy Sernovitz, Seth Godin (Foreword), Guy Kawasaki (Foreword)
Touted as a New York Times, USA Today Money, and Amazon Bestseller, this book is a fun, practical, hands-on guide into mastering word of mouth marketing.
Word of mouth marketing expert Andy Sernovitz will show you how this honest marketing strategy has converted more profit for several companies through its customers alone. Told with humor and straightforward advice, Sernovitz will also impart several simple techniques in starting conversations.
The book contains methods on how to use social media, viral marketing, evangelists, and “buzz”. It also shows you how some companies have been able to sell their products or services without spending anything, as compared to some of their counterparts who fail with their advertising campaigns worth millions.
This book is a great primer on embracing word of mouth as a marketing tool for any kind of business or organization. Sernovitz does an excellent job of putting his recommendations into easy-to-understand concepts and uses straightforward applications. He also presents good examples like eBay, Microsoft, and a few other companies who have benefitted from extraordinary word of mouth results.
So there you have it, 4 books that we at Schola Inbound Marketing can recommend to get you started on understanding the concepts of Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, and Word of Mouth Marketing. We hope they will help you understand the fundamentals, as well as the deeper insights that they each can offer your school.
Are you wanting to learn more about Inbound Marketing? Click the graphic below to download your free ebook, The Ultimate Guide to School Marketing Strategies.