Monthly Archives: September 2015

3 Reasons Your School Needs Marketing

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It should come as no surprise that marketing is one of the main factors for telling the unique story of your school. We’re taking a look at the three main reasons marketing is absolutely necessary.

1.  If you’re located anywhere from the Great Lakes to the Northeast, the demographic shift is not your friend.  From dot-com bust to terrorist attack downturn to financial crisis and Great Recession on the economic side, to continued preferences for warmer climes in the South and West, people are moving. Including your alumni. Including young families. For example, the Boston urban complex (including Rhode Island and Southern New Hampshire), arguably the heart of the boarding school community,  saw its number of households grow by just over 7,000 among more than 1.6 million households — that’s less than one half of one percent.  They’re more affluent than the average, but only 4.6 percent of women 15-50 gave birth last year. Families are smaller, marriage is less common, and only 10% of households have income over $200,000. (Source: CensusReporter.org)

2.  Competition is up. Independent schools do battle with charters, with religious schools, with other private schools and in many areas, top-flight public schools.  As Chris Tomkins of Episcopal Collegiate School said at the Western Boarding School Association meeting early in 2015, different isn’t good enough. Independent schools must articulate why they are better.  That’s what we marketing/communications types call the “value proposition.”  How successfully does your school explain why it’s better than the others? And, how distinctively does it tell that story?

3.  Families are impatient. It’s become an axiom that people just don’t invest time and effort in reading deeply. They scan, look at pictures, glance at headlines.  Look at your website, your social media, your direct mail pieces and advertising.  Are they unified in look and feel? Are the calls to action clear? Do they represent your school accurately and distinctively? Do you have measurement and metrics in place to judge their effectiveness?

This is what marketing is all about — it’s not a vanity production, it’s not a part-time gig, and it’s not a job for people who don’t understand the theories, actions and strategies required to do it successfully.  Independent schools are realizing that professionalizing their marketing is as important as doing so for admission, for advancement and for the business office.

You wouldn’t ask someone with no training as a teacher to teach — why ask someone with no marketing knowledge to market your school?

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Facebook’s New “Dislike” Button?

If a group of friends get together for drinks and laughs and never post a picture of themselves on Facebook, did it actually ever happen? In its relatively short existence Facebook has redefined social norms, privacy and even the term “friend.”

Facebook is at it again. Or at least Mark Zuckerberg is. He confirmed that Facebook is finally working on a “dislike” button. While marketers and brands are assessing the treasure trove of analytics and insights this will produce, as a society, I don’t believe we are ready for it. While Facebook is a wonderful channel for connecting with old and new friends, I’m not sure we’re ready for the responsibility a “dislike” button will bring.

When I was a young boy, I remember my father telling me not to ask others about religion, money, politics or even sex because, “That was too personal.” That advice has always stuck with me but what was once private and not discussed openly among friends is now common posts on Facebook and other social networks.

There used to be topics that were off limits for discussion, but not anymore.

And what started as a Facebook friend purge during election years because of hate speech and political rhetoric, now happens weekly for me. I no longer can keep quiet as friends draw their social and political battle lines.

So what happens now as Facebook introduces an actual button to “dislike” something? I pray they don’t actually call it that. By giving us a tool to publically tell someone we don’t like a comment, picture, news story or other post, are we prepared to talk about our differences in a civil manner? I doubt it.

Furthermore, at True Digital Communication we counsel brands and companies on how to engage and connect via social media. Add a “dislike” button and it will add another dimension to online customer service. I’m not sure most brands are ready for this.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

My Top 10 Takeaways from #CMWorld

image2 (1)After two fantastic days at Content Marketing World 2015, my brain is swirling with thoughts and new ideas. Both days of the main conference were filled with great topics, wonderful speakers and networking with marketers from all over the world. (53 countries to be exact!) Here are my top 10 takeaways from this conference!

1. Andrew Davis is the best presenter I’ve ever seen. I thought this at last year’s CMWorld when he was one of the keynote speakers, and the same goes for this year. I went to his session on Social Momentum, and I can say that this was my favorite session of the conference. Main takeaway: Stop making noise and instead build social momentum. Stop vomiting your content on every channel and instead distribute your content when your audience needs it, not where.

2. Jay Baer had the best one liner of the conference that really stuck with me: “Are you creating content, or are you making a difference?” I won’t elaborate more on this, because I believe this statement says it all.

3. Saying “no” is a powerful thing. Kristina Halvorson, one of the opening keynote speakers mentioned we always want to say “yes” but when we say yes to everything we do a lot of little things and overlook the big things and the talents of others. Main takeaway: You always have to start out with “Why?” Why are we doing this in the first place?

4. Does your content pass the “mom test”? Jay Baer’s keynote was awesome. His key point: Your mom will always tell you the truth, no matter if you want to hear it or not. So, would your content pass the mom test? Main takeaways: If your mom doesn’t like it, no one will. Content is having a transformative impact on the world- so don’t give up! You’re under a lot of pressure to me a “marketing machine”– but don’t forget we are lucky to do this. Creating content is an honor and an opportunity to help people and improve lives.

5. Ann Hadley’s breakout session on “Good Content vs. Good Enough Content- a fight for sore eyes” had great tips for creating bigger stories, bolder marketing and braver tone of voice. Main takeaway: 51 percent of B2B companies will spend more money on content marketing in 2016, but only 30 percent know if their content marketing is effective.

6. “Hug your Haters” session with Jay Baer: Customer feedback= a petri dish for content marketing. A place where ideas can flourish! Main takeaway: Embrace the complaints of your customers- if will make you a better marketer. Complaints and questions of your customers= your content marketing ideas!

7. Juntae Delane’s session “Smart Content: Using Big Data to Inform Your Content Marketing Strategy” had great points. My main takeaway: We create content first and then analyze the numbers. We need to flip it around and analyze the numbers first and create your content from there.

8. Orange snacks are everywhere! Main takeaway: Who knew there were so many orange snacks?

9. John Cleese was hilarious! I was in tears at some points from laughing so hard. Main takeaway: John can’t believe people live in Cleveland. (Hopefully his opinion changed after walking around!)

10. Our learning as marketers never stops. I think that was my favorite part about the conference; being surrounded by 3,500 like-minded professionals who face the same struggles and challenges. Main takeaway: If you can make it next year, I highly recommend going to this conference in 2016. Save the date- Content Marketing World will be back September 6-9!

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