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Operating a private school provides many challenges — one of the biggest ones private school marketing. Keeping enrollment numbers at a comfortable level will always be in the back of your mind. SEO for private schools is one way to do that as it is absolutely crucial to make sure your school is able to be found on Google. However, when thinking about how to improve private school enrollment, there is no ONE magic bullet solution. We’ve put together a few marketing tips for schools that may help you stay on track.
1. Look to Your Leadership
Committed, visionary leaders who are dedicated to making the school a great place to learn and grow will naturally bring students into the fold. If you are struggling seriously, look at where you need to challenge yourself and your other leaders to accomplish more in your roles.
Another thing can be to showcase the leaders in your school from the principal, to teachers, and of course students. People want to know the type and quality of the staff and the students, this is a way of your school to speak by itself. Perhaps include a teacher of the month or student of the week activity, and share it on your website, newsletter, and other social platforms.
2. Develop the Brand
What makes your school stand out from others? What is memorable and conveys your image in an instant — that’s your brand. Brands are commonplace in the retail sector, but they are often overlooked in education. Don’t let your chance to be memorable slip away.
School-branded merchandise is a great way to leverage your fans’ love for your school. Create custom t-shirts, hoodies, or caps for your school pride days or pep rallies. Another way to spread awareness of your school’s brand is through tote bags for families or car stickers. These branding items help get your school name to stand out and make people begin to recognize it.
3. Analyze your Goals
Before you look too much into how to achieve full enrollment, make sure your goals are accurate. Where do you want to be? Why have you chosen those numbers? Goals can help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Spending some time analyzing your goals and making certain you are on the right path can go a long way toward helping you meet them.
Other items to consider may include the school budget and possible investment in new technologies or staff training on new education trends. Having goals is a roadmap to success, in this process, it is key to identify opportunities, threats, competitors, strengths, and weaknesses of your school. Also, consider realistic timelines and real numbers that way you are not exceeding expectations. Focus on your goal, and be open to strategies to help you achieve them. Once the goal is reached you’ll have something to celebrate!
4. Get the Parents Involved
Create a core group of parent ambassadors who are motivated to help you reach your goals. The real network advantage will be through them, as these parents are excited about seeing your school improve and grow too. Parents should be able to help you reach other like-minded individuals — the parents of the kids you want in your program. They can help reach out to other families at church, work, and other activities.
A good tip is to use your parent mailing list to announce news, create a monthly newsletter or add information on your website. Parents are an excellent honest and free resource you can access, as parents with kids enrolled have the greatest word of mouth available. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of letting the community know about your school and its programs. Don’t be shy to ask them for referrals and to share information about your school with their peers.
5. Expand Your Website’s Reach
How happy are you with your website? Taking the time to add the content that will get you found on Google is vital. Even if you have great word-of-mouth and other marketing going for you, Google (and the other search engines) are your best marketing tool. Websites are an important tool for outsiders and potential customers to learn about who you are and what you offer. Parents will search your school before they consider sending their child to it.
This is why your website should be appealing, easy to navigate, and with accurate information that communicates the educational benefits of attending your school. Showcase unique approaches your school offers, programs, and curricular activities. Add some fresh imagery, shareable blogs, and populate it with effective CTAs (Calls to Action) to encourage more engagement from visitors.
This is especially the case if it is done with search engine optimization in mind. Excellent SEO enhances your marketing efforts and improves your visibility to the audience you’re trying to reach. Poor or non-existent SEO buries your site, so it is nearly impossible to find. If you ignore SEO, you’re making a HUGE mistake. Your website can be the deciding factor for parents when choosing a school!
6. Stay Active On Social Media
Social media is a must if you want to connect with the parents of your current students and perhaps meet new faces too. If you’re not doing this already, you’re behind the times! Get on board with digital tools and trends and you’ll be able to go very far with your business. Since there are multiple social media platforms it is important, to begin with the one that your school’s community uses the most. To know this you can send out a poll or survey to parents, staff, and students.
If it’s Facebook, you can post at least once a day to provide a window into your school. Relevant content for this platform includes news articles, educational blogs, storytelling about staff, students or a family, and events. Twitter is a great social media platform to tweet about exciting events, student accomplishments, announcements, and anything else to build the brand of your school. Instagram is another platform to share content and announce important events through stories, create engaging reels, and even have live talks about a certain topic or with a guest speaker!
Social media is an excellent way to engage and share things about your school. However, don’t make it all about promotion — tell your story, share artwork, connect and BE SOCIAL.
7. Have a Community Event
Whether you make it a Fall Festival, an Open House, or a Holiday Party, do something to get the community into your school and show them why you’re special. Getting people in the doors can be the most important first step to take.
8. But Also Engage In Community Activities
Many local communities have a lot of activities that support and showcase local businesses. Take advantage of them and participate with an impactful presence to put your school in the front row. You can set up an information booth at local festivals to help showcase your students and staff, march in parades, volunteer at the food bank or charity fundraisers, etc. This will help community members and families recognize and draw attention to your private school. Parents will remember your participation at these events and your school’s reputation will be enhanced as one that engages with the community. Keep in mind to always wear your school colors when attending and serving at community events.
9. Enter Notable Competitions
Another way to get noticed in local activities is by entering competitions related to the programs at your school. Having students compete in math leagues, sports games, music performances, or others always makes for a good article in the local news. This is a great way to get your school’s name in front of a lot of parents. This is an effective approach to increasing enrollment and garnering public recognition.
10. Do A Competitive Analysis Of Your Community
Do you have an understanding of local enrollment trends? Do you know who’s your competition? It’s important to run a competitive analysis of your community to understand better what other schools may offer that might be more appealing than your private school. There are different education options around your community such as public schools, charter schools, and homeschool options. Therefore, knowing the different choices available to local families allows you to take a critical look at your own offerings and implement changes to make your school stand out. This is a good moment to start getting your school involved in marketing efforts.
11. Make Your Unique Value Proposition Stand out
Families usually evaluate multiple educational options before choosing the right fit. Therefore your school needs to stand out from the pack. A simple but powerful way to do it is by telling your school’s story. Be specific about your unique value proposition in other words, what your school has to offer. Families like to have no doubts about how your school will help their children develop academically. Talk about your staff, certifications, values, athletics, music, and other departments that have unique value propositions. Share your message in various places like the school’s website homepage, email campaigns, giving forms, brochures, etc.
12. Maintain an Updated School Website
It’s essential for your website to be findable and provide families or anyone looking at it with answers to questions in an easy-to-read format. Websites are a must-have so if you don’t have one already, you’ll need to build and maintain one. When creating a website, it’s important to maintain it regularly with current content. Offer resources that will help parents and also check for broken links and pages. You can increase enrollment by offering applications and information online.
13. Publish blog posts regularly
A school blog is important as it can position your school as an expert on topics related to education, improve your school’s website in search, boost retention and increase enrollment.
14. Promote Teachers on Your Marketing Efforts
Parents and guardians care a lot about the capabilities of your instructional staff. They want to know who will be teaching their child and if they are in fact, great teachers. Therefore, it’s important to talk about and promote the quality educators that make up your private school. This will help parents feel confident about choosing your school over the competition. Great teachers are what inspire children to be responsible, enjoy learning, and become outstanding adults in the future.
15. Share stories, social proof, and testimonials about your school
Parents love stories! There are many ways to get stories out and one of them is through interviews. You can interview your school’s star teachers and students and share them on your website. Testimonials are also great real-life examples to show how successful your educational programs are. They can provide an inside perspective on what parents and students love about the school, whether it’s the classes offered, teachers, programs, or extracurricular opportunities. Videos are also a good social proof tool to show authentic stories that can inspire prospective families to decide to enroll at your school.
16. Start using email marketing
Today, one of the most powerful marketing tools for schools is email marketing. This tool helps you communicate with parents and other community members when there is an upcoming school event or other activity you want to promote. You can also include a request to forward the email to families who might be interested in enrolling their kids or even send out quarterly surveys to parents. Email marketing can help you drive more prospective students to your school.
17. Optimize for local search engines and directories (SEO)
If you haven’t heard it before, you will now; local search engine optimization (SEO) for schools is an important marketing strategy. This will help your school get listed on Google and other search engines. If done correctly, your school will show up when potential parents search for keywords related to your school, thus making it possible for them to find your school and learn more about what you have to offer.
18. Offer gated content
Gated content, also known as content offer, is usually a webinar, downloadable ebook, whitepaper, or other assets that offers information parents will find valuable. It is used to generate leads by providing prospective parents with valuable information in exchange for their information such as name, email address, number, ages of school-age children, and other important data. This helps gather contact information from families so you can nurture your relationship with them in the future.
19. Use lead nurturing
Did you know it takes at least five touchpoints or specific interactions before a family applies to a school? It may be overwhelming to manage all prospects and re-enrollments. Luckily, by automating various touchpoints and keeping in mind your personas, you can still target and communicate with individual prospects’ with less time and effort. This is called lead nurturing and it uses automated communication to provide information families need when they most need it. With the information gathered in the initial inquiry and further details documented in your CRM, you can schedule personalized follow-ups and even plan events focused on what’s most important to prospective students.
20. Extra-Curricular and Enrichment Programs
Extra-curricular and enrichment programs have the potential to increase school enrollment. Creative writing, cooking, photography, first-aid, sports camps, carpentry, and music programs are some of the extracurricular activities parents look at when considering a potential school. Besides academics, parents value when their children spend off-school hours engaged in fun and interesting activities in a safe environment. These programs also inspire families be more involved with the school.
21. Additional Services that Will Help Parents
Of course, the most important service your private school offers is a high-quality education. although this generates the most revenue it’s important to know that there are many busy parents that appreciate additional service shat will work for them. For example, before and after school care, transportation to and from school, and special needs support workers. This will help remove some obstacles for parents, and in turn, can lead to increased enrollment.
22. Maintain Availability and Transparency
Stay ahead of negative complaints with clear and truthful communication. Parents of current and potential students like to feel confident that your private school delivers quality education in a physically, mentally, and socially safe environment. Allow prospective parents to visit the facilities and observe daily activities first-hand. Also, be open about policy changes, budgets, and staff turnover.
23. Conduct a Yearly Family Satisfaction Survey
Sometimes the best way to know if parents are satisfied with your school is by asking them. Have you identified their points of frustration and are working to make your school better? A good way to know how families feel about your school is to conduct an annual satisfaction survey for your school. This will give you accurate insight as well as open a communication channel for families to give you feedback. With this information, you’ll be able to develop a plan to respond and make the changes needed. Parents will appreciate being heard!
24. Stay Relevant
You need happy students and parents to increase school enrollment for your private school. Often times families choose a private school because of the flexible learning methods, the feeling of safety, and a less hectic learning environment. However, now more than ever it’s important to understand that the future is tied to modern technology and its use in all career choices. Some students want to learn about the latest technology applications to science, farming, astronomy, communications, medicine, etc. Therefore, it’s important to consider tech-savvy instructors and a technology lab in your lesson plans and learning facilities. Technology does not always replace textbooks and lectures, but it is likely part of the school that has relevant methods and programs.
25. Follow-Up with Enrolled and Interested Families
Your current students should be a priority when it comes to enrollment. By continuing to recruit them, you’ll continue to fill those seats. So always offer them enrollment first. To keep parents happy, make sure to follow up quickly on messages they send through social media, websites, or in person. They’ll enjoy the fact that you communicate effectively.
Private School Marketing in a Nutshell
While you may not discover how to achieve full enrollment overnight, you’ll see progress and begin reaching your goals one by one by implementing these strategies. Soon, you’ll have that WOW moment when it all starts coming together, and you’ll see increased numbers and a better bottom line.