After the economic decline of 2008 my independent school embraced the principles of inbound marketing and we’ve seen positive results from our continued efforts. While I tout the positive benefits of inbound marketing as often as I can I am perplexed as to why more schools haven’t begun using inbound marketing. The longtime Chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, was once quoted as saying, “Change before you have to.” I’m afraid that independent schools are on the precipice of that change and I would encourage them to think about using inbound marketing before they have to.
Economic Decline of 2008-2009
Our journey with inbound marketing began during the 2008-2009 school year. After the October 2008 stock market slide our interest indicators (inquiries, applications, and visits) appeared to be a one month trailing average of the market. We had to come up with a plan to attack this decline and we initial turned to traditional outbound marketing methods.
We began a branded campaign which used billboards, signs at the airport, targeted direct mail, and radio advertising. The problem was that all of these combined efforts didn’t turn the dial for us in a meaningful way with regard to our interest indicators. We needed to change our marketing methods and tactics.
Beware Of Social Media By Itself
Next my school turned to social media which we thought would solve our problems. As a result, we launched our Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel, and while we received some positive buzz from our internal community, we once again didn’t see a bump in our interest indicators. The lesson we’ve learned about our use of social media is that social media is only a tool and not a marketing strategy. If you use social media make sure that you have an inbound marketing strategy in place to fully tap the potential of social media.
Inbound Marketing Strategy
My school finally turned to inbound marketing and we jumped in with both feet. We now have a deliberate inbound marketing strategy combining SEO, social media, and blogging, and we’ve seen the results. During the 2010-2011 school year, after utilizing inbound marketing principles for a full year, we saw:
- Our Inquiries increase by 15%, which is a reversal from a 4-year decline
- Our Applications increase by 8%, which is a reversal from a 2-year decline
- We now have greater insight into the ROI of our marketing campaigns
Inbound marketing is working for my school and the results speak for themselves. If your school hasn’t done so already I encourage you pick up a copy of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series), by the founders of Hubspot, and embrace the principles of inbound marketing for your school before you have to.