Money. Budget. Finances.
However you talk about it, each of these is almost always classified with the same adjective: tight. Especially for a non-profit, private school seeking to maximize families' tuition investment with a superb education experience at a good value.
Somehow, spending thousands of dollars on school marketing doesn't seem to quite fit most schools' mission statement.
We get it. Yet, while marketing might not seem to translate directly into a better school experience for Johnny and Janie, it is a crucial component to your school's ability stay relevant, to grow, and to continue operating in a healthy state. Plus, many markets have several schooling options for families to consider. How will you make sure you've picked out among the crowd by prospective parents?
When presented with a new marketing avenue - like those offered through inbound marketing - your first question is most likely going to be: "How much will it cost?" And while we've got plenty of good news for your bottom line when it comes to inbound (more on that on #3 below), we'd like to volley back a follow-up question: "What will it cost you NOT to do inbound marketing?" To accurately evaluate the cost of school marketing, you would do well to look at the opportunity cost of the status quo.
In answer to that, here are 10 things you'll be missing out on if you choose not employ an inbound strategy for your school admissions marketing this year:
#1) Market Share
Let's get this one out of the way, because in essence, it touches all the rest of our reasons.
If you're not doing inbound marketing, rest assured your competition probably is.
And they're reaping the benefits you'll read below while you sit it out on the sidelines. You don't have much to lose by getting in the inbound game, so why not jump in and start the ball rolling.
Today's generation of young parents (you know, parents of preschoolers and kindergarteners who are weighing their education options even now) is online. All. The. Time. Digitally connected via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and more, so much of their lives are managed on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Not the newspapers, and not even radio as much anymore. If you want to meet your audience where they are, you've got to have a compelling and comprehensive online presence.
Yep, sticking with the age-old traditional (or, outbound) marketing methods will actually lose money for your school. Hubspot research has shown that inbound marketing costs up to 62% less per lead than traditional advertising ($346 for outbound, $135 for inbound). In fact, their estimates show that the education sector pays a paltry $26-$50 per lead, even less than the all-around average of $135 per lead. Don't throw money away on media that doesn't work anymore.
By setting up a comprehensive content strategy and schedule and mapping out your target personas accurately, you'll be planting rich and valuable seeds with your prospects early in their decision process, catching them at the beginning of their journey. Then, once you reach them the first time, your continued content postings will provide valuable touchpoints all along the way for them, reminding them of your presence and your brand promise. Again, if you're not doing it, your competition is, and in that case those prospective parents are getting to know that other school across town way better than yours.
When you put out timely and relevant content that answers the burning questions parents have, you are earning their trust as someone who could be a good partner in their parenting endeavors. And as you engage with them in that unobtrusive internet realm, their faith in you will (hopefully) be confirmed and will blossom into a face-to-face meeting at a tour or open house, where you can guide them to the next level.
Going along with the time-saving aspect, inbound also makes your admissions and efforts more streamlined and efficient. Because it is so targeted, you don't waste resources on advertisements that are reaching the wrong audience. Plus, the leads that you do get are already likely highly qualified, thanks to their ability to get to know you ahead of time through your website, blogs, webinars, and other content you've produced.
Also helping with efficiency, inbound marketing offers you a doorway into immensely valuable data about your prospective parents and about the effectiveness of your efforts and content. With the feedback and metrics provided through your online marketing avenues, you can often tell who has opened your emails, where your website traffic is coming from (Google, social media, etc.), how long people spend on your website and what route they take through your pages, what kind of content your audience prefers (and, by extension, what needs these parents truly feel) and more! This data can help not only guide your future marketing activities, but also give your leadership insight into what your students' parents are concerned about for their families.
Want to position yourself as a thought leader in your community? Show parents that you not only understand them, you offer viable and vital solutions as a partner to their family? By tapping into the resources within your school community (staff, leaders, parents, and even students) to produce content that is fresh, apropos, and inspiring, you show off the wealth of knowledge your school holds as well as your ability to know and serve your families. Going all the way back again to point number 1: if you're not doing this, you can bet your competition is.
#9) Public Relations
This content can go beyond marketing to specific prospective parents and generally boost your school's image in the community. As your content gains traction, you may find that other audiences are showing appreciation for and latching onto your discussions. This fringe benefit gives you added PR, name recognition, and respect as a premier educational institution.
Content marketing is all about building relationships - both with prospective families and your current families. Whether it's engaging your followers in social media conversations, talking with prospective families on a webinar, or offering parenting tips in a blog post, you are giving parents a glimpse into who you are and allowing them to give you a bit of their trust in return. Each touchpoint is a chance to build upon that relationship until the tipping point when a family decides to enroll.
Don't want to lose out on these 10 valuable factors for your school? Now that you've realized the cost of NOT doing inbound marketing, the question remains: what do you have to lose?