As a private or independent school marketer, your days are likely full of competing priorities - finding a balance between today’s pressing marketing needs and big picture goals and objectives.
The good news is that you’re not alone. In July 2021, we partnered with NAIS on the State of Independent School Marketing Survey, where we heard from hundreds of private and independent school marketers - and when we asked them about their top marketing priorities for 2022, the answers were very consistent.
In this article, we’ll share what we learned - and give you some ideas to get you started on the path to achieving these objectives.
NAIS + Metric State of Independent School Marketing Survey
- Request a download of the final report
When asked what their top marketing priorities are for 2022, private and independent schools across North America told us their greatest focus was raising awareness—that is, utilizing the correct promotional tactics at the correct time to build awareness among target audiences—followed by positioning and measuring success.
What are your top two marketing priorities for next year?
52% Promoting Awareness (utilizing the correct promotional tactics, at the correct time, to build awareness for your target student/parent during their customer purchasing journey)
44% Positioning (identifying and developing three differentiators - or unique advantages - that are difficult for the competition to match)
31% Measuring & Evaluating (determining what is working and what is not, and calculating a return on investment)
These results line up closely with what we hear from many of the schools we work with, whose top goals are to grow admissions/enrolment (often combined with the type of family or student they’re looking to attract) and to raise funds.
The good news is that these three priorities are closely linked and support one another - and with some planning and effort, they’re easily within reach.
PRIORITY 1: MEASURING & EVALUATING
There is a literal world of data available to today’s marketers - but it’s only meaningful and actionable when you’re measuring the right things.
Whatever your marketing priorities, start with your objectives. Once you know where you want to go, you can identify measurable goals - and the key performance indicators (KPIs) that directly support them. When you’re measuring the right things, you can organize your channels, tactics and messaging according to the different roles they play in driving those outcomes. Once your objectives and KPIs are in place, you can move on to developing strategies and tactics to achieve your goals.
(Here comes a shameless plug from the Metric team: our digital marketing experts have developed measurement and analytics strategies for dozens of private and independent schools, and we’d love to help you too! Reach out to our team anytime to learn more.)
PRIORITY 2: PROMOTING AWARENESS
One of the most important tools we use is the Customer Journey - guided by data and research and developed for each one of our clients’ target audiences. This tool helps guide our decisions on which messages, channels and tactics will be most effective in helping to raise awareness and move users along the marketing and admissions funnels.
You can work through the same process, identifying your target audiences, exploring their journey through awareness to conversion and loyalty, and matching each audience and each stage with the best marketing channels and messaging.
(We’d love to help with this too!)
PRIORITY 3: POSITIONING
At its core, “positioning” is the way your audiences perceive your school to be different from the competition. By communicating your difference in a clear, compelling and accurate way, you’re giving people a reason to choose you - and increasing the odds that those people will be right-fit families who are with you for the long run.
To start, conduct a thorough audit of your competitors. Identify the key benefits and values they share about themselves, and compare these to your own marketing and communications messages. If the benefits and values you list are very similar to those of your competitors, you likely have some positioning work to do.
When writing your key differentiators, be honest about what you offer that other schools either can’t or don’t talk about, and what makes your school uniquely special. Securing an outside consultant can often help, because you’re so close to your own brand - and an objective view can be useful to help understand how potential new families who are experiencing your brand for the first time might view your messaging.
(Hi! It’s us again. You know where to find us!)
Armed with a strong foundation of objective-driven strategies, measurable tactics and standout market positioning, you’ll be well on your way to increasing brand awareness.
In July of 2021, Metric Marketing partnered with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in a survey of independent school marketing teams. The state of marketing in the independent school landscape has changed immensely over the last decade, especially as the power and influence of digital marketing have grown. In the final report, we learn about the common challenges and opportunities school marketers face, and provide some best practices that you can use to improve your school marketing.
We are pleased to offer the full report on the 2021 NAIS State of Independent School Marketing Survey. To request a free PDF of the full report, please fill in the form here.