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Marketing Your Schools 101: Why it can't be just "one more thing"

Everybody "in the know" knows. The education landscape is much more competitive than ever.

This means good marketing has to be an essential.

If you are competing in a market where parents have choices [i.e, the Western Hemisphere] you have to put time, resources, and priority towards your marketing efforts.

It can't be "one more thing" that a school-based staff or (in some cases) a principal has fall on their plate. If you don't have - at a minimum these things - you will be left behind and your enrollment will be down:

- Marketing Accountability

- Strategic Plan

- Ability To "Pivot"

logo for Marion County Public Schools on a school-owned with fleet vehicle.
Marion County Public Schools in Ocala, Florida, put the sides of their white fleet vehicles to work to promote their programs and add cache to their company vehicles.

Marketing Accountability - Your markets efforts should be making an impact. Two easy things to remeber:

1.) Not everything works but it should be documented. This way you can improve on it in the future and recall what worked and didn't work down the road. Every marketing initiative should offer some sort of data and some sort of insight into your consumer, your offering, and your markets. Make sure you document your intent, your approach, and your results.

2.) Compare marketing initiatives by using comparative analysis. If your goal was to get more site visits, measure programs used to get site visits for that... it doesn't matter how many impressions your campaign received.

mom with shopping cart. shows how to market to parents, especially moms.
Pick your target audience and stay true to your strategic plan in the many ways you try to reach them. Across many platforms and with many techniques. Never forget who your target audience is.

Strategic Plan - You should have your strategic plan from the beginning. It should be shared with executive leadership, peers, and you employees. This plan is your guidance to evaluate all you do throughout the year. If a vendor comes to you with a high-impact sponsorship that includes a celebrity, don't get caught up in the hype of the promotion. Evaluate it as part of your strategic plan and then make a decision on it. Strategic plans should be created by looking at the data from the year prior and finding exactly where you need to be... then create the path to get there. Remember: surgeons almost never cut in and then decide where to go (yeah, it's that serious.)

a chart showing how Tebo and Associates keeps track of our marketing strategies so we know what makes money for school districts and creates the biggest marketing impact.
Always work with your leadership team to establish a process for when you need to pivot. Marketing is not accounting - there will be times where the numbers don't come out - so you need the capacity to pivot. The best way to do this is to stay true to your data and do not get emotionally-involved with your marketing initiatives.

Ability To "Pivot" - It's imperative not to get too tied to your own marketing. Meaning: When we come up with an idea or a process or a plan that we think will work, we often get too emotionally tied to it. When something isn't working, have a frank discussion with your team and your executive leadership and cut ties. Remember the saying, "don't chase good money with bad."


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