Marketing to Schools: Helping Schools Market Themselves

Marketing to schools can sometimes feel like a thankless job, particularly in the current economic environment. As schools across the nation are forced to tighten their budgets, those of us who create marketing plans to target those schools must keep up with the pace.

But in the mad search for clients, it's important to consider the fact that many private and parochial schools are struggling to market themselves. This is where you come in -- as an expert in marketing educational materials, the task of helping small schools with limited budgets increase the size of their student bodies. Here are a few ways to do it.

Recognize that potential students are, for these purposes at least, potential customers. This doesn't mean giving automatic As to every student simply because they or their parents are paying a bill. And it's important for schools to let parents know that paying tuition doesn't mean a guarantee of good grades. But running a private school should entail some attention to customer service; after all, your students and their parents are paying for an education that's better than what they get at public schools. That means more specialized attention from teachers; better communication between faculty, administration and parents; and a greater sense of community overall.

Determine what your customers need and how you'll meet those needs. What can your school offer that public education can't? Is it a stronger science or art curriculum? Is it greater tools and facilities? Is it a better, more experienced faculty? What do you have that can meet the needs of your potential customer base? As with marketing any product, it's important to play to your strengths.

Make sure your school is a member of its regional independent school association. Consider the National Association of Independent Schools or the National Association of Private Special Education Centers. If you're a religious school, you may want to join the American Association of Christian Schools or the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education. Organizations like this allow you to list your school's website and contact information where potential customers can best see it. It's also a good place to learn more about the latest education marketing trends.

Develop a comprehensive marketing plan. When people hear about your school, you want them to hear the right things. This means having a results-driven marketing plan that involves a ton of research (to determine what the marketplace wants) and a long task list (to find ways to promote how you meet those needs).

MarketingWorks is a full-service education marketing firm. We've got decades of combined experience marketing to schools, colleges, libraries and more. For a full list of the kinds of services we provide, visit our Solutions page. Or contact us to find out how we can help your school market itself.