Each school we work with has a unique set of needs, but the foundation to create a successful and measurable integrated admissions marketing plan must evolve through seven basic steps.
Phase One: Research, Analysis & Marketing Strategy/Plan
Before you can re-define your independent school’s brand in the marketplace, you need to gain a deep understanding of how your school is perceived by both current and prospective parents. We recommend a series of in-person focus groups be conducted by our professional research firm to help discover and evaluate your school’s standing. We have found that in today’s hyper-sensitive consumer market, external marketing research expertise brings value by being grounded in objectivity.
Phase Two: Brand Development/Creative & Admissions Engagement Materials
Your school should strive to communicate their uniqueness and value proposition to prospective and current families. Our creative team helps define the ‘look and feel’ of your school and articulates the qualities that set it apart from the competition.
Phase Three: Admissions/Awareness Paid Media Campaign
Traditional and digital media play an important role in raising your school’s awareness in the marketplace, conveying your value proposition, and as a call to action for open houses, individual tours and prospective parent coffee’s.
Phase Four: Social Media/Word-Of-Mouth Campaigns
Your school needs to learn how to create a social media strategy which enables you to use it to your benefit for enrollment, development and retention. Our Social media strategists can teach you how to create and manage social media channels, target specific audiences, creating an effective and economical ad campaign, or help create an Ambassador Campaign.
Phase Five: Public Relations
By creating an opportunity to engage core audiences we can provide your school with the opportunity to gain ‘earned media’ and to position the head of school as a ‘thought leader’. When local media are looking for comments and feedback on a new trend in Education, you want your head of school to be ‘top of mind’ as a resource for an upcoming story.
Phase Six: The Digital Approach, Web Development & Mobile
The best web sites happen when web design, marketing goals, and development are all considered from the start. By using a strategic approach to one of the most important marketing tools for raising awareness and conveying your school’s brand and value to prospective families, our team of web designers will develop information architecture and produce designs that adhere to user interface best practices. We focus on presenting the most important data quickly and in plain language.
As families and students are accessing the web via mobile devices, responsive design and mobile optimized web sites need to be considered. Some independent schools might benefit from a unique mobile site. Each school will need its own mobile strategy and approach.
Phase Seven: Measurement & ROI
By creating a systematic and measurable marketing approach your independent school can lay the groundwork to successfully meet your admissions goals and objectives. Key metrics need to be developed and utilized to ensure that your school’s marketing efforts are successful. They should include the use of Google Analytics to measure the source of inbound web traffic, social media application based analytics and prospective family marketing surveys to determine which marketing effort lead them to your school.
Return on Investment can ultimately be measured by increased enrollment, increased giving and increased parent involvement, but won’t happen overnight. It will take a concentrated, focused marketing effort by all of your academic and administrative staff to promote your brand and grow your admissions pipeline.
By Jonathan Oleisky, President, Kalix Communications
Image courtesy of Savit Keawtavee, FreeDigitalPhotos.net