School Marketing Predictions for 2023

School marketing predictions for 2023

I spent 2 hours trying to write a cool and catchy intro. 

I started by matching a few names with fortune-telling techniques (“Crystal ball” Heather Hoerle).

Then, I tried mentioning my right and wrong predictions.

  • 1992: Everyone will eventually have their own phone they carry around with them.
  • 1998: The Colts should draft Ryan Leaf because he’s way better than Peyton Manning.

So, who among the bold prognosticators below will get it right? Time will tell. Until then, here are their school marketing predictions for 2023!

– Trevor

Jan Abernathy, Chief Communications Officer, The Browning School
School marketers are going to get increasingly strategic about “surprising and delighting” current families as the pool of available students decreases and brand loyalty shrinks (as we are already seeing with millennial and Gen Z consumers). As people who usually market our school’s sense of community in addition to a great education for kids, we are going to have to work even more closely with our enrollment teams to make sure we are delivering top-quality retention events and content, and telling and selling our story to families that are already enrolled. 

Penny Abrahams, IAP-L, Senior Consultant, ISM
While parents have always sought private schools that align with their personal values, this trend will be magnified in the coming years. Given the current social and political environment in the U.S., families are increasingly choosing schools with missions and core values that mirror their own family values and beliefs. In order to thrive in 2023 and beyond, private schools must clearly and authentically articulate to both internal and external audiences what they stand for and what their common purpose is. Schools that stray from these values in an effort to be “all things to all people” risk alienating even their most loyal constituents, which will result in undesirable attrition and weakened word-of-mouth marketing.

Angela Brown, Senior Enrollment Insights Leader, K-12, Niche
My prediction (or hope at least) is that more schools are going to get serious and intentional about retention in 2023. Our data shows that 61% of private and independent schools have identified retention as a priority, but there are still many schools that don’t have formal retention committees to strategies in place for retaining their current families. Even for schools that aren’t currently struggling with enrollment, there are a number of headwinds at play, from record inflation, declining home values, fluctuating fuel prices, and a laundry list of other economic factors that can make some families more reluctant to add or keep schools that charge tuition in their household budgets. Having an intentional, strategic focus on retention is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s essential.

Heather Carreiro, Associate Director of Marketing & Communications, Midland School
I expect we’re going to see more inquiries for our boarding program from international families, especially those living in megacities affected by poor air quality and for whom outdoor life and children’s socializing were severely limited during the height of the pandemic. As families re-prioritize time in nature, overall wellness, and clean air, rural schools can have an appeal to international families who may be limited to large urban centers for English language college preparatory education in their home countries.

Douglas DeMaio, Digital Marketing Strategist
The rise of the personal brand in independent school marketing. Educators and school leaders who become content creators will reap long-term benefits for their schools and careers. This is a shift from thought leadership as a type of content, to thought leadership as a person/people. Impactful school leaders are intentional stewards of their schools’ brands on and offline.

Chuck English, Principal, English Marketing Works
My prediction is that as studies confirm the negative impact that remote learning has had on learning, parents will continue to turn away from public schools. While that represents opportunity, it doesn’t make choosing independent schools a “gimme.” Public schools still hold a significant price/affordability advantage. Independent schools would be wise to develop messaging specifically directed at public school parents that confirms the superiority and long-term value of independent school education.

Meghan Hodgin, Director of Marketing and Communications, Oak Knoll School
Schools will begin hosting open houses in the Metaverse by November 2023.


Heather Hoerle, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Enrollment Management Association
Rising inflation and a looming recession will have families taking a cautious approach to their school decisions in the new year. While most independent schools experienced positive enrollment upticks due to the pandemic, charter schools were the fastest-growing school type in the K-12 landscape. With these factors in mind, schools that plan early and utilize personalized and innovative approaches to reach new families — with a strong focus on retaining existing ones — will be better positioned in the 2023-2024 academic year.

Jeremy Merkle, Director of Partner Strategy & Operations, Truth Tree
Easy access to school information, more educational options, and what we know about the millennial buying cycle will mean attention to your digital brand will be your #1 task. You will need to transform your entire website into a “sales piece” and provide accessible, meaningful, informative content at every step.

Joe Monzo, Owner, Monzo Media Production
In regards to retention, Independent schools have an opportunity to showcase transformation through transparency of how their curriculum is helping their students. Following a few particular students throughout the year is a fantastic opportunity to tell some great stories on transformation and growth. Get it on video (and yes a smartphone/DIY is fine!) and hear from the students.

Brendan Schneider, Founder and CEO, SchneiderB Media
My prediction, or maybe it’s my hope, is that schools will begin to understand that a school’s communications and marketing roles are unique and require different skill sets and hire appropriately with that new understanding in mind.  A gold star for schools that accept that a superwoman doesn’t exist and, as a result, stop hiring one person and expecting her to do everything.

Brian Smith, Partner Success Manager, Truth Tree
Privacy will continue to be important topics. Eventually, cookies will disappear, making it more difficult to collect and analyze audience data. We will have to find new targeting solutions and improve our content writing to ensure it is personalized and tells a story/provides a solution.

Trevor WaddingtonTrevor Waddington, Principal, Truth Tree – Facebook’s hold on the top spot school SMM will continue to fade. Short-form video content will rule school marketing in 2023, and TikTok and YouTube Short content creation will become the #1 tactic.

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