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?