Marketing is changing, and so is the way parents interact and engage with prospective schools. This is why inbound marketing is more powerful today than it’s ever been before.
Here’s the deal – marketing is critical for the future of your school. Afterall, it’s marketing’s job to help you spread the word, reach new people, and attract them to your school so they enroll their student with you.
But here’s the other thing – parents, well, they’ve seen it all. And they’re skeptical, jaded and don’t trust brands (including schools) as much as they used to. Plus, today, customers have all the power. They have a great deal of information available to them with just a click of a button. Essentially, they’ve become more knowledgeable and more empowered than any other generation of parents before them.
This is why inbound marketing is a better approach than outbound marketing.
What is Outbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing is what most people think of when they think of marketing, such as online advertising like Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, and Google Ads as well as offline and traditional ads like television ads and radio ads. Basically, all the ads. Essentially, if your marketing involves interrupting someone and forcing them to see (or listen to) your content whether they want to or not, that’s outbound marketing.
By it’s nature, outbound marketing tends to be, and needs to be, a little more pushy, a little more salesy, and a little more aggressive. It needs to be this way because outbound marketing is a form of direct response marketing where we’re putting a message, or an ad, out to the world and hoping people will take action, hopefully as soon as possible. That’s because outbound marketing tends to be expensive, and we need to recoup a return on investment as quickly as possible.
Here’s the thing: outbound marketing does work, and especially works when it’s done the right way. But it’s not the only way. And that’s where inbound marketing comes in.
What is Inbound Marketing?
If we define outbound marketing as marketing that interrupts someone and puts our marketing in front of them whether they want to see it or not, then we can safely say that inbound marketing is the opposite. Seth Godin calls it “permission marketing”, and this perfectly sums it up. Inbound marketing is marketing people have asked for, or are seeking out, or at the very least, is marketing that doesn’t interrupt them.
The reason inbound marketing is such a powerful shift in perspective is because it makes your marketing look, sound, and feel like it’s not really marketing at all. The beauty of inbound marketing is that it makes families feel served rather than coerced. This in turn lowers their guard and makes them far more open to hearing about your school – and makes them far more likely to actually want to submit an inquiry. Inbound marketing is all about creating something that entertains, educates or draws them in. Ultimately, inbound marketing inspires people to take action and to do it using their own free will.
Inbound marketing, at least from a parent perspective, feels more natural, and feels more authentic. Now, the reality is that inbound marketing is no less strategic, and no less planned, and no less coordinated than outbound marketing. But again, from the parent perspective, it looks and feels more natural. This is because, with inbound marketing, your prospective families will seek out and find your content, and your marketing, and your message, rather than you going out there, finding them, and forcing them to listen to you.
Does Inbound Marketing Mean No Marketing?
However, here’s an important point. Inbound marketing doesn’t mean no marketing. In fact, it could be argued that inbound marketing will take just as much, if not more, effort than outbound marketing. This is because not only do you have to create compelling, engaging, valuable, and human-driven content, but you also have to do it in a way that isn’t overly salesy or pushy or spammy or sleazy. You basically have to do marketing but wrap it up in a package that doesn’t feel like marketing. You have to make sure your marketing is useful, helpful, relevant, educational, and yes, maybe even a little entertaining. You need to do keyword research ahead of time to make sure there is sufficient demand for your topics, title your content appropriately, and find visuals that will be appealing to your target families. Then, you need to optimize content and using search engine optimization techniques so that your topics will be found and ranked higher in search engine results.
Is Inbound Marketing Effective for Schools?
Inbound marketing is especially effective when your services are complex and nuanced, which fits school marketing perfectly. Parents are interested in learning about what your school has to offer and not only the story of your school but they also love to hear the stories of how your school makes a difference in the lives of students. Inbound marketing is a great way to share these stories.
In order for school marketing to be successful, schools need to very clearly define the value students receive from their school, and to do that they need to create trust. Trust is critical for educational institutions as part of the marketing strategy. Inbound marketing is a great tool and strategy to achieve these types of goals.
Want to learn more about how inbound marketing works? Check out this article: How Inbound Marketing Works for Schools.
Is your school using inbound marketing strategies? Please share your experience with inbound marketing in the comments below…