Why Aren't More Schools Using Inbound Marketing?

Why-arent-more-schools-using-inbound-marketingAs I write this post I’m sitting in the Pittsburgh International Airport heading to Phoenix for the Annual SSATB conference to deliver a presentation entitled Inbound Marketing for Schools using Blogs, Facebook and Twitter. While I wait for my plane I have time to rehearse my presentation in my head and I’m struck by the realization – why aren’t more schools using inbound marketing?

The Time Is Now

My school implemented the basic principles of inbound marketing beginning with the 2008-2009 school year and we really got serious about inbound marketing last year during the 2009-2010 school year. We’ve seen increases in our inquiries, applications, and visits – inbound marketing is working for us! I’ve also presented numerous times in person, and on webinars, talking about inbound marketing and our success, but I still haven’t seen schools moving away from outbound, or traditional, marketing. Why is that? Do schools have a fear of inbound marketing? Is there a basic lack of understanding? A lack of expertise?

Your Opinion

I’ve tried to figure out the answer to my initial question and have been unsuccessful. I need your help! Why aren’t more schools using inbound marketing? Please let me know your thoughts by posting them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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  1. Turnaroundmkt says

    Brendan: I think there are many reasons, but the ones I’ve heard from my clients include lack of resources (personnel time and funds to hire new personel), lack of knowledge (which social media to use for what purpose), lack of expertise (what do I post, to whom, and how to make posts brand-centric), lack of support (from the head or the boss), lack of results (perceived or actual), lack of courage (the old mediums are working, aren’t they?), and so on. I think you, @edSocialMedia and their contributors, and the general blogosphere are striving to open minds, give tools, and educate. But it’s a slow go. This reminds me of where the independent school world was a decade ago when it came to branding. Branding was a dirty word then. “We don’t brand independent schools. We’re not sneakers. We’re about children and their education.” We’ve come a long way since then with regard to brand. It won’t take a decade to get there with social media. Why? Because the young people who are hired by independent schools will bring them along and independent schools’ audiences will grow ever “younger” (i.e. more social media savvy) as well.

    • schneiderb says


      Thanks for your comment and you are ABSOLUTELY correct! I hope we can all convince schools not to wait a decade with regard to inbound marketing. Thanks for reading!


  2. cksyme says

    You’re on the right track, B. And I agree w/Turnaroundmkt–lack of expertise– it’s a big deal in .edu circles. Folks think putting up a Facebook page and Twitter feed to push out links to your news stories is all there is to it. Keep on doing what you’re doing. We need a more informed .edu community. I think social smarts can be learned and existing resources don’t have to be stretched too much, but good info is definitely needed.

    • schneiderb says


      Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment.

      Thanks for all that you’re doing with regard to social media – maybe we can all help to inform the .edu community!



  3. delainanicole says

    I agree with @Turnaroundmkt . Creating good content and generating brand support are not as easy to grasp as throwing ads out there. Inbound marketing takes a lot of self-reflection about what your brand truly is, and what is stands for.

  4. tuckerkimball says

    Brendan, it’s a great question. I think for those of us who are excited and passionate about inbound (guilty) it’s easy to forget the enormity of the shift. The shift we’ve seen is so great (every organization is now it’s own media company) that I think it is still very difficult for many organizations to understand this shift or even want to. Before, you took $1,500, gave it to x-magazine with readership interest and distribution in your prescribed demographic. The magazine then created the ad, you proofed it, they printed and distributed, and then you waited, hoping someone would see it and called you as a result. Or, you pitched the media a story. They did the interview, wrote it/shot it, published and/or produced it. The inbound model has removed that middle piece which was once the source of your creative, the source of your print/production, the source of your distribution, and the source through which your audience learned about stuff, made decisions. So, that model you’ve known to be true since the printing press and the invention of the television is now being pitched to you as obsolete, or at the very least no longer the primary focus. Not only that, it is now all up to you to learn and implement the pieces that have been removed. Wow, that’s daunting! Private industry is working its way through this and leading the pack i.e. those with resources, but it is still very new. You now take those without resources like non-profits and schools, mix in the word facebook after a recent bullying story in the New York Times, and you’ve got yourself a tough sell. I agree with everyone below but in my mind education is an absolutely key component helpfully catalyzed by young hires as @Turnaroundmkt points out. Once educated, then the organization can begin acquiring courage through internal education and begin discussions around resources, channels, firms, all the other stuff. Again, great question, Brendan. Thanks!

    • schneiderb says

      @tuckerkimball@Turnaroundmkt Thank you so much Tucker for your input. I couldn’t agree with you more and think you make many great points! Thanks!

  5. Weatherhead says

    Essentially the role of the inbound marketer turns away from the traditional model which was one way didactic facilitator to a creative who has multi facted content creation skills. More akin to an Art Director combined with analyst.

  6. FriendsSchoolMN says

    Hi Brendan, Thanks to you for your inspiration and support. Friends School of Minnesota has taken the plunge and launched a new school blog. Check it out when you get a chance http://blog.fsmn.org/

    Susan Nagel