Are you the head of an independent school or a staff member who is involved with the independent school marketing strategy?
Have you been searching for a way to increase the number of qualified students you bring in each year? If that’s the case, you need to start thinking creatively about how to improve your independent school marketing efforts.
The unfortunate reality is that there is a myriad of schools to choose from and your prospective student’s parents will almost certainly shop around before making their decision. Therefore, you need them to end their search by concentrating on your school.
To help your school stand out, please keep reading below to discover six of the best independent school marketing strategies!
1. Define Your Target Audience for Web Design
When it comes to marketing a school, you need to narrow your target audience down to the age group, the demographic, and the income level of those you wish to serve.
Ask yourself: Who can afford to come to our school? What are the parents’ interests outside of getting their children a terrific education?
When you know the answers to these questions, you can begin to change the marketing strategy to target these people specifically.
For instance, your website design needs to match the audience that you are trying to reach. If someone navigates to your website and doesn’t feel an instant connection or doesn’t connect with the design or feel of it, they will navigate to one of your competitor’s sites. As an independent school looking to fill gaps in your population, you cannot have that happen.
So how do you ensure that your website visitors do not navigate away within seconds of getting there? You need it to stand out.
Consider adding virtual tours of the school campus onto your site, create an events page so potential students and parents know what to expect if they attend your independent school, and have a gallery of past events to show the camaraderie of the school. These visually appealing website components will keep people on your site longer.
2. Invest Time in Social Media
The average person spends over 2 hours on social media per day. If you are looking to up your marketing game and reach more of your target audience, the first step you need to take is to invest more time on your social media marketing action plan.
While Facebook is a great way to reach some people, the rising popularity of TikTok and Instagram have lately outperformed their Facebook counterpart. Building your presence on these platforms will completely change the response you get to your marketing strategy.
Are you worried that you won’t have the time to invest in social media? You could get creative with the approach by having your students run the account. As a separate elective class, your social media presence would boom with the help of the younger generations.
Moreover, having students at your school run the accounts is a marketing strategy within itself.
3. Foster Relationships With Key Stakeholders
Marketing a school takes much more than developing a strategy. There needs to be a subsequent plan of action that backs the strategy.
To ensure that you have enough money to stick with your marketing goals, you will need to carve out time to foster and build relationships with stakeholders.
Focus on building relationships with the families that already attend your school first. The families that currently attend are one of the best retention marketing tools that you can leverage to spread the word about your school. If they have more children, they will continue to send them your way as well.
You will also need to focus on higher-ups who are providing more donations while backing the programs at the school. Without them, there will not be anything to market about your independent school.
Therefore, hosting events like luncheons, dinners, festivals and carnivals, as well as raffle nights will keep the donations coming in from those that support what you are doing as a school and community. When these events occur, be sure to invite board members, the superintendent of the area, the mayor of your city, state education members, and other prominent local officials.
Even if they do not attend, they will be aware of the events and keep an eye on your school. If they like what they are looking at, they will continue to be a stakeholder and spread the word about your school.
Once you foster relationships with stakeholders, you can market to them for sponsorships. There can also be donation tiers to incentivize higher donations.
For instance, any donation over $100,000 would put the family or business organization’s name onto a building. A donation of over $25,000 would put the name on a sidewalk plaque.
For one-time donation needs, a program could be co-sponsored by an organization or a family. This means that the sponsor would be backing the program (like art, a show, a concert at a local venue) through their donations. Every banner, sign, pamphlet, and advertising outlet would need to have the donor’s name and information on it.
Stay Close With Alumni
Generating a program for alumni relations can take a bit of time and effort but will pay off monumentally in the long run when alumni donate, spread information by word-of-mouth, and send their own kids there in the future.
You can start an advertising campaign with alumni to increase the trust of others in your school, or you could also have a section of the school’s website dedicated to alumni. This could include where current alumni are in the world, the colleges they’ve been accepted into, the fields that their careers are in, and unique stories that you could showcase.
Furthermore, people tend to focus on personal stories so utilizing alumni’s stories and current whereabouts who attended your school will grab potential parents’ and students’ attention to keep reading about what the school has to offer.
4. Utilize Online Reviews
Google rates almost everything online with reviews front and center. Consequently, it is crucial that your school utilizes online reviews as well.
Consider how you scroll through reviews—if you come upon a three-star review, you’re most likely going to keep scrolling. The same will happen to your school’s site if there are two or three-star reviews on it.
In order to have online reviews that entice people to click, you can incentivize parents to fill out reviews online that will show up in a search on Google. Whether you provide a gift card or enter them in a raffle, any incentive to have well-written reviews with helpful feedback for those looking will help your marketing strategy.
In addition to reviews, you need to use testimonials on your website. Once people read a great review and click forward, they should have the ability to navigate to a page of more reviews or testimonials from parents or students who attend the school.
5. Focus on SEO
Ensuring that your advertisements, your website, and all social media posts are focused on SEO will increase the likelihood that more people in your target audience are targeted.
Using a strategy that Google can follow (like incorporating SEO into your website) will cause your marketing strategy to be more successful.
Write about the location, research high-yielding keywords, and generate backlinks to your school to build trust with both Google and potential families while increasing web traffic and the amount of incoming leads.
To increase website traffic, pay-per-click advertising can help. This means you only pay when someone clicks on the ad.
Although PPC can be a highly effective approach to generating traffic, increasing event attendance, and ultimately elevating the number of incoming applications, this approach requires advanced technical knowledge. As such, consider outsourcing such activities to a company like VujaDay.
Independent School Marketing Strategies
While independent school marketing can be costly and timely, having the right marketing strategies means everything for the success of the school.
While using media marketing and digital marketing is important, marketing to stakeholders and staying close with the alumni network is just as important, if not more.
If you need professional help with some of the marketing strategies, Vuja Day can help. You may need to expand social media marketing or better your web design. Whichever you choose, our services will be sure to benefit your school.
Ready to talk? Contact us today, and we’ll start building something great together!