Marketing Advice from Buddy the Elf

Marketing Advice from Buddy the Elf

Watching classic holiday movies, especially Elf, is a great way to get into the holiday spirit. It’s one of my favorite holiday movies that also has great marketing advice for independent schools.

Don’t be afraid to layer it on.

Buddy’s list of holiday must-dos – making snow angels, ice-skating, cookie baking and more – is extensive. Your marketing plan should be, too.

Your comprehensive marketing strategy needs as much coordinated print, social and digital, video, radio/broadcast and outdoor advertising as your budget and staffing will allow. But you need to be strategic and authentic in how you use them.

Traditional marketing encourages getting in front of a prospect seven to 13 times to generate a lead. With social media today, you need more than that. Consider Twitter’s 90-second window to make an impression or the eight seconds impression-time you have on your website’s homepage before a person decides yeah or nay. What can you do to keep a viewer’s attention, or entice that prospect to move on to the next step in the engagement process?

  • Repurpose your most important content to appear more than once over a period of time on your social media pages. You’ll be able to catch the attention of those people who missed it the first time, and remind people who did see it to take another look.
  • Overlay your website landing pages with valuable downloadable content to reduce bounces and motivate viewers to stay on your website.
  • Craft calls-to-action that deliver a sense of urgency as to why viewers should “learn more.”
  • Bake in photo albums or slide shows that entertain and resonate, alluring prospects to buy a ticket for the show – or in your case, further check out your school.

In Elf, Buddy can’t help but be who he is. Your message resonates best when it rings true with who your school is and when that message is consistently shared across all your marketing.

Create marketing content that resonates with your audience.

Are you educating tomorrow’s leaders for excellence, integrity and success? Do you have caring faculty dedicated to teaching the whole child? So does every other independent school.

Take a hard look at what you’ve been saying about your school and figure out what qualities distinguish your school:

  • Showcase the best of your teachers by offering downloadable lesson plan summarys so parents can learn the value of your school’s curriculum.
  • Share your students’s remarkable achievements to reinforce the pivotal role your school can play in a child’s educational journey.
  • Ask your alumni to share their experiences and explain why they’re so passionate about your school to help parents understand the impact your school can have on their child’s life.
  • Interview current students and parents on video, and ask them why they’d recommend your school to others. Nothing beats first-hand recommendations from your best ambassadors.

Incorporate all this into your marketing content, not the “givens” for every school. They will resonate.

Establish a consistent visual identity.

Do you have a visually consistent look across all your marketing touches? With so much visual onslaught today, families need to know right away which school’s ad they are reading. It’s a good idea to:

  • Imprint your social media ad images with your school’s logo so they stand out in a viewer’s feed. Keep the position and size consistent, having alternative versions available (black, white, color) so they stand out on any background.
  • Maintain a consistent color palette and typeface on your images to keep them distinctive and in line with your school’s styleguide.
  • Assess your approach to imagery. Is your use of photography and images in sync with today’s standards? Are they sized and formatted properly for the social media sites that you use, and are you repurposing them to cross-promote on your print assets?

By the way, not all of your marketing materials may be the best place for your traditional school seal. More and more students are having a bigger say in where they are going to independent school, and school seals don’t resonate with Generation Z. Save it for your alumni.

Don’t be afraid to stand out.

Does your community have a regional magazine with school ads in the fall for open house advertising? Pick up a copy and thumb through all the ads of your competitors. How many ads blend together? Don’t be afraid to stand out with your own unique look. Buddy the Elf did, and he ended up saving Christmas.

Happy Holidays from Kalix Marketing and Best Wishes for 2018! We are here to help you reach all your marketing goals for the New Year!

Sarah Achenbach is Director of Communications for Kalix Marketing.

Get more tips for marketing your independent school here:

Guide Your School’s Marketing Efforts Using Data, Part I

President’s Notes
Jonathan Oleisky

Jonathan Oleisky

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