18 Powerful Secrets Behind Successful School Marketers

Marketing is at the heart of every independent school organization, from small to large.

The importance of marketing cannot be over-emphasized; marketing is the main driver of inquiries and enrollment. A solid marketing strategy leads to wider publicity for your school, attracting new families.

Good marketing boosts enrollment and builds your school’s reputation as more people learn about the advantages of a private school education as well as what your school has to offer.

Marketing, therefore, can be seen as the process of creating interest in your school and establishing relationships with potential families. For this reason, market research and a solid understanding of what families are looking for in a private school is essential.

The importance of marketing has brought about an increase in the need for effective marketing across all industries. Marketing skills are crucial for tailoring how a school will attract new families to optimize success.

Here are 18 secrets of successful school marketers today.

  1. They aren’t afraid to try new things.

Here’s the thing – you can’t get better unless you try something new. Even if your new, creative idea doesn’t have the result you were hoping for, at least you learned it didn’t work. And, the process of trying something new may just trigger an idea that will help you improve your success rate.

Marketing is not a “one size fits all”. What works for one market may not work for another. Get creative with the best tools and tactics to reach your audience.

Adaptability is key. Marketing changes all the time. The only way to know if something will work is to try. It might feel scary, but the magic is hidden within the unknown.

  1. They continuously measure their results.

Tracking your marketing results may be more beneficial than you imagine. Your ability to track, measure, analyze and report your data will provide you with insights into what’s working – and what’s not. For marketing analytics to be reported accurately, they must be properly tracked and calculated.

Once you understand what’s working for your school, you can focus on improving your return on investment (ROI). Long-term data can provide additional insight.

Read more: Basic Google Analytics Guide Schools Can Use to Improve Inbound Marketing Efforts

  1. They are not afraid to ask for help.

There is an entire universe of marketing strategies and tactics out there. There are many roles, responsibilities, talents, and skills among marketing team members. Successful school marketers know what they’re best at and hire or outsource others who will complement their marketing strengths.

Ideally, a marketing team will have complementary skills that, when combined, become more effective than individualized skills in accomplishing a goal.

  1. They are early adopters.

The term “early adopters” is commonly used in technology, but every industry has them. Early marketing adopters are the first to utilize a platform, tactic, tool, or strategy. They embrace innovation and are often seen as a leader or “go-to” person. They usually gain a competitive advantage and may even be able to provide input into refinement of the technology. They tend to build relationships with the developers and, in exchange, receive more support.

Schools that are early adopters may increase student retention, provide more support to families, increase efficiency and help boost student outcomes. Early adopters may be able to appeal to parents on a different level than other schools.

  1. They cut their losses when they need to.

There’s no shame in ending a tactic if you aren’t getting the results you expect, as long as you’re actually testing the tactic. If it isn’t working, successful school marketers cut their losses as long as they’ve applied enough patience to let the tactic take hold. For example, SEO link building requires patience and a long time.

  1. They have a diversified skillset.

Successful school marketers need to be good at several different things. The reason you need to diversify your skillset is to improve and expand your marketing creativity. It’s great if you’re good at one marketing tactic, but if you have a broader range of knowledge, you will be able to expand your marketing ideas.

  1. They never stop educating themselves.

Successful school marketers know they have to invest in their learning. They are avid readers and constantly improve their knowledge. Successful marketers have a sizable bookshelf of accomplished reading they refer back to when needed.

Read more: Recommended Books for School Marketers

  1. They develop a strategy with a mix of organic and inorganic marketing.

Life without smartphones – and, by extension, social media – is unimaginable for many families. Smartphones are a strong link between online and traditional marketing. For this reason, search engine optimization (SEO) for your website is a must-have.

Social media algorithms are constantly changing. In today’s pay-to-play social network environment, successful school marketers leverage the power of social media by promoting their campaigns to organic followers using a paid strategy.

  1. They understand their target audience.

Every potential parent wants to know they are understood. Successful school marketers are able to demonstrate they understand how parents think and what they need to hear.

  1. They value content.

Good content is all about your target audiences. Understanding what to say online comes from your school, your mission, and your uniqueness. Showing up online begins with being committed to publishing content. Once you get into the habit of creating it consistently, you have the foundation of a successful school marketing strategy.

  1. They recognize the importance of aesthetic design.

Aesthetics play an important role in determining the success of a marketing strategy. Aesthetics refers to color, contrast, graphics and layout. The aesthetics of your marketing assets can influence the credibility and perception of your school. Furthermore, the implementation of design principles affects the overall experience of your audience. Pleasant and smart designs allow followers to enjoy a positive experience of your school.

  1. They tell human stories.

Storytelling is a powerful strategy for school marketers. Stories are meaningful because they are relatable and memorable. Creativity and the ability to tell a good story about your school that demonstrates how your school can help their child too is a secret of successful school marketers.

A good story will arouse interest in your school. It aids in retention efforts as well as persuasive communication in an easy-to-grasp way.

  1. They amplify the voice of students and parents.

Parents trust the voice of students and parents. Great marketing happens when you’re able to highlight their voices – through user-generated content, case studies, interviews, testimonials, videos, etc., anything that allows students and parents to share their story and champion your school for you.

  1. They prioritize email marketing.

Email marketing proves time and again it is one of the most valuable channels a school can use. It is a preferred mode of communication for many parents. Plus, we’re all addicted to it! When a parent shares their email address with you, they are inviting you into their daily life. Successful school marketers use it wisely.

  1. They are persistent.

As a school marketer, being motivated and having the ability to keep going will lead to success. There will be ups and downs, victories and failures. Staying motivated and having passion is a secret to being a successful school marketer.

  1. They are digital.

Understanding how to leverage technology and the power of the internet is a secret of successful marketers across all industries. You have to be able to use the internet to market your school in this information age. There are many opportunities on the internet; knowing how to utilize them to promote your school and connect with current and potential families will lead you to success.

  1. They are confident in the merits of their school.

Knowing, and communicating, the true value of your school is critical for successful school marketers. When we know this, we show up way more confident. This may look like:

  • Believing in your school and its value
  • Understanding our school so well people are intrigued
  • Having a strong sense of what our target families need to hear

Confidence is the force behind marketing. Schools willing to spend budget on marketing tend to be confident in their vision. Sometimes it helps to seek out external validation, especially when we are so close to the marketing we’ve got blocks from seeing it all.

  1. They are transformative, not transactional.

As a school marketer, it’s easy to get caught up in all the meetings and campaigns, but it’s important to elevate your marketing from the mundane. The best marketing doesn’t feel like you’re trying to get families to enroll; it’s about communicating the profound changes that occur in the lives of students.

School marketing is intricate but powerful in advancing your school. As you can see by the secrets of successful school marketers above, their success lies with what works best for their school. Understand your audience, find capable professionals and start fine-tuning your unique school marketing strategy.

Originally published June 16, 2021, 4:00 AM, updated February 8, 2022

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.


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