You’ve read the blog posts. You’ve read the books. You’ve become a believer in inbound marketing and want to try it for your school. The problem now is how do you convince your Head of School that inbound marketing can work?
While I can’t offer a ‘magic bullet’ that will easily convince your school to embrace the tenets of inbound marketing, I can offer 5 steps that will certainly help you along your way to implementing blogs, social media, and landing pages to help market your school.
1. Become The Expert
In order for you to convince your school to begin using inbound marketing you’re going to have to become an inbound marketing expert. While I realize that expert can be defined in many different ways it’s important that you truly understand what inbound marketing is and what it isn’t. If you think that creating a few social media channels like Twitter and Google+ are inbound marketing you need to learn more about inbound marketing.
I also believe that you need to become an expert because you don’t just need to understand inbound marketing to implement it’s principles – you need to become an expert because you’re going to be teaching other members of your staff what inbound marketing is and isn’t in order to convince them why you should use it.
It’s one thing to understand a concept – it’s another thing to be able to teach it to someone else!
There are a number of different resources to that you should be reading in order to become the expert and I’ve listed a few of my favorites below:
- Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series)
- The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly
- Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series)
- Inbound Internet Marketing Blog – from the inbound marketing experts at Hubspot
- Brand & Capture – from the inbound marketing agency Kuno Creative
- The Innovative Marketer’s Blog – from Innovative Marketing Resources
2. Become the Champion
During a recent conversation I had with Kevin Jorgensen (Innovative Marketing Resources) he mentioned to me that schools generally don’t have an inbound marketing ‘champion’ on campus and as a result they have been slow to adopt inbound marketing principles. I agree.
If you don’t have a ‘champion’ on campus then I suggest that you learn to fill that role. You can accomplish that by doing these three things:
- Become the Expert
- Be a cheerleader on campus for inbound marketing and make sure to bring it up as often as appropriate
- Make sure that you have a seat at the marketing table for your school and that you mention inbound marketing as a solution to any marketing issues your school might be having – make sure to offer specific examples
3. Compile Data
I’ve found that without data most people aren’t going to feel comfortable using inbound marketing. Schools are very slow moving organizations and I have heard of a number of complaints when taking to people after they try to convince their school to use inbound marketing:
- People are fearful to try new things that they don’t understand
- Independent schools are steeped in tradition and the phrase “because we’ve always done it this way” is used a little to often
- Because there’s a lot at stack with regard to a school’s marketing, i.e. tuition dollars and students, people tend to be scared to take a chance for fear that it won’t work
In my opinion, this is the most important step in convincing your superiors that inbound marketing should be used at your school.
My suggestion is that you evaluate your current marketing efforts and try to draw a line from your enrolled students back to a marketing effort – which is very hard to do with traditional outbound marketing by the way. If you can’t show that a marketing initiative generated any enrolled students then you should seriously consider dropping that marketing initiative. If you are able to show that a traditional marketing tool like direct mail, for example, is not working for your school then you can suggest an alternative that involves inbound marketing.
4. Search Google For Your School
My belief that a prospective family’s school search now begins at Google is another great way to show your school leaders that inbound marketing can help your school. Complete this short exercise:
- Identify 5-10 long tail keywords through which a family might find your school. These keywords should not include the name of your school.
- Search Google and write down the page and position where your school’s webpage shows up.
- Make the point that if your school doesn’t show up on the first page of Google then it might as well not exist.
- Now you can explain how inbound marketing using SEO, Blogging, and social media can help your school improve their ranking in Google.
5. Start Small
A former colleague of mine was adamant that to be successful with a project you needed to start small and have little successes. I’ve followed this idea for many years now and I think it’s appropriate for implementing inbound marketing at your school.
After you’ve become the expert, championed inbound marketing on your campus, compiled data, and identified opportunities by searching Google for your school you’ll be in a position to suggest an inbound marketing technique that you can implement and measure. Start small by launching a blog for example and make it successful by measuring and tracking not only marketing metrics like views, comments, and inbound links but by also measuring inquiries, applications, and campus visits.
If you are able to start small and show success you will create a whole team of champions who will be running to inbound marketing.
Now It’s Your Turn
I want to hear from you! What successes have you had trying to convince people to utilize inbound marketing? What failures? Do you have any other ideas that you’d be willing to share?
Please let us know by posting your thoughts in the comments section below.