The last two years have been challenging with regard to enrollment at independent schools for many different reasons. As a result, people responsible for marketing at these schools have needed to evaluate all of their efforts. While the economy continues to show signs of improvement, which will not doubt help our marketing efforts, 2011 will still be a challenging year to fill our schools.
With all of the challenges we face, I’m surprised that schools continue to lag in terms of the focus and sophistication of their marketing efforts and it is with this background that I offer my 4 marketing predictions for schools in 2011.
1. Schools will NOT embrace inbound marketing
I’ve blogged before that I’m a believer in inbound marketing vs. traditional outbound marketing. Traditional marketing channels like newspaper ads, radio ads, and to a lesser degree, email marketing, are being filtered through things like satellite radio, RSS readers, and SPAM filters. As a result, I believe that a families school search now begins at Google and schools need to do everything they can to be found by search engines.
2. Schools will NOT blog and if they do, they will do it poorly
A central tenet of inbound marketing is the use of a blog to help you get found by search engines. The way to get found is by creating great content so people will find your blog and then link to your blog. While many schools are blogging, very few are using their blog to share information and in turn, help with them get found by search engines.
3. Schools will NOT use a social media strategy
Schools are launching social media channels in increasing numbers but after the initial enthusiasm surrounding their launch – the social media momentum fades. At the point of the fade, school’s would have been better to not even launch the channel. Why is this happening? I would argue that the school’s launch the channel without creating a strategy including goals, responsibilities, and metrics to measure their progress. I see this trend continuing in 2011.
4. Schools will NOT measure their marketing efforts, online or offline
I’m surprised by the fact that marketing efforts in schools, for the most part, are not measured. I’ll be honest, measuring your efforts is tough when dealing with enrollment, and I don’t always do a great job with it myself but feel that it is absolutely critical to helping you get found online. As our budgets shrink and get tighter, it’s more important than ever to know what works and what doesn’t work. Measuring your marketing efforts will help you save money and be more successful.
While I really don’t like being negative, because I’m an optimistic person at heart, I’ve generally been unimpressed with schools overall adoption of the truism that families now begin their school search at Google. Schools that adopt inbound marketing will flourish while those that do not will flounder.
I would love to hear your opinion to my predictions or feel free to make your own predictions in the comment sections below.