Successfully keeping enrollment up is an essential aspect of maintaining a private school. Far too many schools depend on word of mouth or overspend on the wrong marketing tactics.
One of the best ways to make sure your marketing budget is being spent appropriately is to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy in conjunction with a solid marketing plan. Following a well-defined plan will help ensure you’re spending your marketing budget appropriately and wisely.
Here are 10 steps to how to write a marketing plan for a private school on a budget.
Gather your marketing data
Start by reviewing your data reports from the last year to determine what’s been working and what hasn’t. The data you need may come from various sources, such as applications, Google Analytics, social media scheduler data, and many more sources.
Review the data that answers these salient questions. If you don’t have this data at your fingertips, you may need to spend some time generating the information you need.
- How are prospective parents finding you?
- What are your best marketing channels for traffic?
- What parent personas are most likely to submit inquiries? Enroll? Be retained?
- What type of content is most attractive to your audience(s)?
- What landing pages have been the most successful and why?
- What information does past exit page data signal?
- What information do you have about your audience? How can you improve your marketing efforts to target your audience(s) more effectively?
- What marketing tactics were the most cost-effective for your school last year?
- What other information will help you make the best marketing decisions possible for the upcoming year?
Set your marketing goals and objectives
Once you have the data, you can set your goals and objectives. Start by setting long-term goals. These overarching goals will help guide all your marketing efforts. Once you’ve established your long-term goals, you can break them down into specific objectives. Objectives should be measurable over a specific period of time. For example, if your goal is to determine a social media strategy. An objective related to this goal might be to increase your Instagram Followers by 50 every month.
A word about setting objectives. Make sure your objectives are challenging enough to keep you engaged and interested in the process, but easy enough they are doable. If your objectives are too difficult, you may be at risk of losing interest and not following through as well as you should.
Map out your marketing messages
Your school’s messaging is a part of your marketing strategy and branding. Create a message map by writing out a core statement that contains basic information about your school. Then, center your messaging around your core statement. Incorporate these messages into your mission statement, press releases, and other marketing materials.
Live your mission
Your school has a set of values and guiding principles that govern it. If you don’t have one already, create a mission statement that outlines your school’s values and ensures prospective parents are aware of them. Just be sure your mission reflects your school honestly so you can demonstrate your values through your interactions with students, parents, alumni, staff, board members and everyone in the community. Your mission statement, and how it is reflected, can make or break parents’ trust.
Outline your tactics
A successful marketing strategy includes many different tactics. These tactics include both online and offline (traditional) options. Your goals, target audience(s) and school’s values factor into your priorities. For example, if your students are preschool through third grade you might want to focus your marketing efforts on Instagram instead of Facebook because their demographic might be younger than parents of high school age students. To be most effective, you will want to choose the tactics most likely to give you a strong return on investment.
Create a timeline
While this part of strategic planning might be a bit tedious, it’s well worth your effort. Time is limited for all school marketing teams, but especially if you’re on a tight budget. Review your goals and objectives to help you figure out what needs to be done by when. Remember to allow extra time for unforeseen events that could delay your goals.
Set your budget
Creating a budget can help you determine what you can and can’t afford. This step may force you to set priorities and prune tactics that won’t fit into your budget. However, most of the time you can keep most of your tactics in place, although you may have to limit them. For example, you may need to spend less on Facebook marketing, but you can still complete some Facebook Ad campaigns, making them accessible to even the smallest of budgets.
Assign a team member
Once you’ve created a timeline, assign tasks to members of your team. Or, assign someone who is responsible for coordination and oversight, even if they still delegate tasks. If you don’t have enough staff, you may need to consider hiring an intern, part-time staff, or outsourcing help.
Determine how you will measure your success
Tracking the effectiveness of your marketing strategy will help you pivot and/or make adjustments as you go along as well as inform your strategic plan next year. Your website, social media, sales funnels, and other marketing materials are all sources of this information. Take the time to figure out how you will track this information (i.e. Google Analytics).
Revisit your marketing plan annually
Ideally, you should review your marketing plan on an annual basis because marketing goals, objectives, channels, and tactics will change over time. Keep up with marketing news and trends to stay current and determine what will work best for your school.
After you write a marketing plan for a private school it will help you stay organized and focused. It will also save time and funds over time. Even if you already have a marketing plan, reap the benefits by reviewing it and keeping it up-to-date.