Private School Marketing for Newbies

Two years ago, I was charged with taking over the marketing duties here at Presbyterian Day School. I had had no formal training in marketing — only a desire to help this school reach new students.

You know as well as I do that being a marketing director is a full-time, complicated, ever-changing job, but the powers that be have decided, “Marketing isn’t hard, and you can do it part-time. All you have to do is just place a couple ads here and there, right?” 

WRONG! Marketing is time-consuming, and it’s really not easy. It involves a thorough understanding of your school, its prospective parents, and its alumni. This information isn’t gathered overnight, nor are the tools and skills necessary to get this job done.

So here is what I have learned in my short stint in school marketing so far…

Get organized.

Slack, Workplace by Facebook… You need to make communication with your team simple. These are great tools for the job. There are others out there as well. Just make sure you are organized enough so that you aren’t wasting precious time every day. 

Try to learn something new every week on Monday.

The landscape of marketing is constantly changing and there are so many new ideas, programs, and processes that it is difficult to stay on top of things. But try. Don’t save this for Friday — you will likely lose this information by Monday. If you learn something useful on Monday, you are much more likely to use it during the week.

Understand the end goal.

A goal like “get new students” is not an effective marketing goal because it’s too broad. For enrollment marketing, ask yourself: Are we looking to get more people on campus? Increase web views? Identify more potential candidates? etc. Then simplify this end goal even more. It’s like losing weight. If you need to lose 100 pounds, it can be a daunting task. So set your goal to lose 10 pounds. After you do that, then set a new goal.

Start what you can finish.

I have numerous projects that I believe are going to be fantastic additions to the marketing here, but I have been working on them for months — and some for years. Most days, I have to curtail my excitement for these projects and focus on what I can actually get finished to be effective.

“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing"

This is a quote from Tom Fishburne of Marketoonist. If you have to force your audience to see the value in the content or hard sell it, it won’t work. Build content around a takeaway for the audience.

Build an elevator pitch.

Be ready to recite this at a moment’s notice. 

Poach your competitor's mentions.

"Create a Google Alert for your competitors' brand names. Find out where they are being mentioned and in what context. Then, see if there are opportunities to be mentioned alongside them. Many times, journalists and editors will write about one brand and be open to including a similar brand for parity."
-Nathan Tanner, Foxtail Insights

Think like a parent.

Always look at things from the perspective of the parent. How can your school solve a problem for a parent?

Make a Pledge.

Make a pledge to make the school better today than when you arrived this morning.

If you like this post, you'll love our newsletter, the Daily Jolt. Sign up here.