We polled attendees at the Enrollment Management Association Conference, and asked them “What, if anything, is holding you back from implementing a digital marketing strategy at your school? Not surprisingly, 42% of respondents indicated that they didn’t have the bandwidth to manage it in-house.
Surprised? We aren’t either. Let’s face it. 15-20 years ago, school marketing barely existed. And if they did, it was a super part-time job and may be filled by a parent or an art teacher. My, how times have changed. We have all been watching enrollment shift over the past few decades and that combined with the reality of how people communicate in the world now has prompted schools to expand their teams. Now schools need a team that serves as a full-fledged marketing firm!
Wow. No wonder we’re fried.
With all that’s on school administrators’ plates, becoming a digital marketing expert might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
What To Do?
School marketing folks clearly have a lot on their plate. But we’re a creative, resourceful bunch! Let’s explore 4 ways to alleviate bandwidth pressures and get started today. We’ve got you!
1. Align Your Marketing and Admissions (and Development!) Goals. And Don’t Stray.
If your team is suffering from a lack of bandwidth, your first instinct should be to hyper-focus on what matters most: creating opportunities to grow or sustain enrollment. We meet with schools all over the country and continue to find it interesting when schools’ marketing teams don’t know what admission is doing and vice versa. You need to be connected at the hip and have the exact same goals. Learn each other’s vernacular, and get crystal clear about your enrollment priorities (entry points, trouble spots, admissions timetable, retention issues, etc.). Once you know your goals, it becomes easier to see what activities are and aren’t working towards the big picture and you can streamline and discontinue tactics that are no longer needed and don’t lend themselves to the goal.
2. Turn the Big Picture into Tactical Steps
Once you know the goal, start aligning tactics with your new campaigns. Your intentionality to identify goals will lend itself to mapping out where you need to focus and what is no longer needed. For example, if your goal is to increase Kindergarten enrollment, you can develop the necessary tactics and steps (and delegate!) to ensure the work is being completed and contributing to the Kindergarten enrollment goal. Other ideas might sneak up, but you’ve already identified Kindergarten as a priority so stick with it. Set up a quick Google sheet to establish steps, due dates, assign colleagues to various steps and keep track of the work. This approach allows you to scale by improving communication and focusing on critical campaign pieces above all else.
3. Use Digital Marketing to Deliver Wins
Digital marketing is more important than ever before. 70% of parents start their school search on Google and another 90% return sometime in their school search process. Savvy schools that are investing in digital strategies are seeing results using a combination of tactics, including:
4. Adopt the Mantra, “Work Smarter, Not Harder”
If you and your team are struggling to keep up, gather your crew together and look at where you can consolidate and even outsource.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. And then do it again.
School marketers are the hardest working in the business–keep fighting the good fight!
Still, let’s be honest. This work requires a good amount of bandwidth and serious expertise to get right. But, starting is the most important! Get your school out in front of prospective parents, take a step to turn on some Google ads, explore an email nurturing campaign, work with some teachers to get a few blogs in the works. You’ve got this and taking steps will ensure you don’t get overwhelmed and can make slow and steady progress.