To outsource or not to outsource? It’s a question that comes up again and again in school management teams. This is a popular topic these days because marketing is changing and evolving, and many schools are struggling to keep up.
For many years, schools were marketed through word-of-mouth, referrals, churches and a variety of community resources. It came down to who you knew.
But that is changing. There is a new generation of parents who have grown up with the internet at their fingertips. They expect transparency and access to information. And they expect to find a school that fits the needs of their child and the values of their family.
As a result, school marketing today is not as much about who you know, but more about what you know.
The skills required of school marketers today are broad and diverse. Many of these skills are driven by technology, requiring expertise to keep up with the pace of change. More and more schools are turning to outside marketing firms to fill in the gaps or even take up the reins.
What is Outsourced Marketing?
Outsourced marketing is the practice of contracting marketing functions to a third-party company. The marketing partner will often take on both strategic and operational marketing duties. Outsourced marketing agencies offer the specialized expertise, knowledge of tools and professional staff to complete marketing activities.
Why Do Schools Outsource Marketing?
Outsourced marketing is common in schools of all sizes and charters. Even school marketers within larger schools often seek outside marketing expertise.
There are many reasons schools outsource some or all of their marketing.
There are only so many hours in a day. Many schools decide to outsource their marketing because their team members just don’t have the time to do it all and do it well.
Whether you’re brainstorming new content, conducting keyword research, or responding to a comment on social media, marketing is a full-time job. If you’re struggling with finding the time to complete everything required to meet your marketing goals and objectives, consider outsourcing.
Knowledge and expertise
Partnering with an outsource marketing agency offers your school access to marketing expertise. Full-service marketing agencies usually have website developers, copywriters, social media community managers, paid media specialists and designers all working together in the same firm.
Besides the convenience, you will also be hiring the expertise of professionals with diverse marketing experience. This will give your school a smart marketing strategy that uses best practices and the latest best practices to deliver results.
Marketing tools and analytics software
While your in-house marketing team likely uses Google Analytics or other analytics tools, most marketing agencies are able to leverage sophisticated software that uses machine learning or artificial intelligence not available to smaller organizations. These tools allow teams to review marketing performance, track return-on-investment (ROI), determine which strategies perform best faster, uncover strategies for improving your campaigns and more.
Improve marketing ROI
Hiring an outsourced marketing team can lead to a higher ROI. With a team of marketing experts as well as artificial intelligence technology, your school can drive more traffic, inquiries and enrollments.
Scale your marketing
Scaling your marketing is usually a challenge for most schools. It’s difficult because you need to find, hire and train new talent. That takes time. Not to mention, increases the cost, which can limit your ability to scale.
According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for a marketer is $73,113/yr. That does not include the benefit package and other personnel-related costs.
When you outsource marketing, you can scale your marketing without having to invest the full cost of hiring a new team member.
Get an outside, professional perspective
Expanding your marketing team to include an outsource marketer gives your school a competitive edge. That’s because outsourced marketers offer a fresh perspective on your marketing goals, strategy and campaigns.
This outside perspective can lead to positive gains for your school.
Minimize your costs
Cost is a critical factor when outsourcing a marketing agency. When you compare the costs of outsourcing and hiring in-house, outsourcing is the most cost-effective option because you don’t have the personnel and overhead costs you have when you hire in-house.
Hire the Right Outsourced Marketers
Finding skilled, experienced marketers can be a challenge. You don’t want to rush into agreements and settle for a partner who doesn’t produce results. Keep in mind the following when selecting an outsource marketer:
School marketing experience
Anyone you’re considering hiring must have experience with the specific tasks and processes you want to outsource, as well as being able to offer new ideas. Make sure you know their team, qualifications, and expertise to make sure they are the right fit for your school.
Be sure to check references to help you better understand the work history. Ask for testimonials of past clients to help you gauge the quality of services they provided.
You want to make sure the candidate has the technical expertise to do the job, so you will want to make sure they possess the technical know-how you need. You may even want to create a test for them to complete to determine their level of knowledge and abilities.
It is essential the person or agency you choose understands the processes and methodology needed to manage projects, track results and resolve issues.
When you hire an outsource marketer or agency, you are putting your school marketing in their hands. You will want to make sure they are responsive with timely communication, feedback, and exchange of information. Also, make sure they have security protocols in place to protect your school’s confidential information such as login credentials.
Dedication to their craft
Look for someone – or an agency – that has a passion for school marketing! The future success of your school largely depends on your marketing team, so make sure your outsourced marketer is dedicated to help your school meet the marketing goals that have been set.
Keep Your Outsourced Team Motivated
In order to keep your remote outsourced team productive and motivated, help them feel they are a part of the team. As with all teams, communication is key. Make sure you put in place:
- Regular check-ins about how the day-to-day work is going
- A weekly analytics report
- A monthly strategy meeting with clear ground rules
When it comes to communication, use a video conferencing tool (like Zoom) and set up team communication spaces using a collaboration tool like Slack, Google Chat or Microsoft Teams. These will help keep communication open and flowing.
Managers make a big difference when it comes to outsourced teams. Here are some ways managers can motivate and inspire their team:
- Set clear goals and objectives
- Check-in regularly and listen to their ideas, opinions and feedback
- Encourage teamwork between in-house and outsourced team members
- Give positive feedback and recognition for outstanding work
Outsourcing continues to be a powerful way of enhancing school marketing teams. Outsourcing enables schools to cut costs and improve efficiency. Of course, advancements in technology, such as project management, cloud storage, communication, and other productivity tools enable schools to maintain full control over the quality and progress of their marketing projects.