We are surrounded by content. Social media. Email pushes. Blog Posts. Videos. Commercials. Pop-up Ads. Everyone wants a click. We live in a constant battle for conversion opportunities so companies can gather data in order to power their marketing efforts. Schools aren’t excluded from this ‘race to the click’ as the fight for tuition revenue dollars heats up in the independent school world. As school marketers, we are facing similar pressures to get people to notice our school and click on our content. As Director of Communications and Marketing at Proctor Academy, I often wonder at what point our families reach full saturation and the return on our content creation investment plateaus. Are we sacrificing quality for quantity in order to simply get our brand in front of our potential customers more times than our competitors? Or do our families have an insatiable desire for content?
At recent NAIS and TABS conferences, I’ve discussed content development as a long-run game; you cannot tell your complete story in a single piece of content (no matter how hard you try). In order to allow your school’s narrative to unfold over time, you must institute intentionality and careful planning at every stage of the content development process with your team so that you are producing a wide array of content for each of your constituencies. Each blog post or video or social media post is a chapter in the longer narrative. As a school, investing in the development of high-impact, mission-centric content that consistently tells your story is a no-brainer. Figuring out how to do so, while meeting the demands of those internally and externally who still believe content creation is about quantity, not quality, is a real challenge, however. Finding your implementers is a good first step to overcoming this obstacle, but having the ability to systemically execute your long-run plan is ultimately what you need to be successful.
When my brother sent me an article titled, Escaping the Digital Media Crap Trap, I was relieved our instincts about content strategy at Proctor are aligned with other major players in the media industry as well. In the article, POLITICO co-founder Jim VandeHei discusses the future of digital media companies, and notes, “With time, the demand for loyalty, uniqueness and durability will shift the emphasis to higher quality. So instead of scale for scale’s sake, the next phase of the media revolution will be creating content of consequence and value.”
If you are willing to invest in playing the long-run content game, you will avoid being tempted by the low-value content offers whose sole purpose is to convert a website visitor into a contact. Instead, when you focus your efforts on high-value video and written content that actually digs into your personality as a school, you develop loyal followers of your brand who truly ‘get you’ and become your best word of mouth ambassadors. Yes, in a social media driven world our attention spans have become remarkably short, but that is even more reason to give people something of real value to consume. If you are racing to produce more content than your peers, you may want to remind yourself that content production is not a race to produce quantity, but rather an investment in quality. Ask yourself this question: What is the last piece of content I consumed in its entirety (other than this blog post of course)? Most likely it was a piece of quality content, not quantity content. Invest where there is real long-run value for your school, not in the short-run spikes in viewership that give you instant gratification, but dilute your brand as an institution.
This post originally appeared on Scott Allenby's blog where more posts focus on school marketing.