/ How to Create a School Marketing Plan That Boosts Admissions

How to Create a School Admissions Marketing Plan

August 16, 2023 | read
How to Create a School Marketing Plan That Boosts Admissions

Attracting new students and families is always top of mind for private and independent schools—and it starts with a good marketing plan. As they begin searching for schools, you want your mission to shine through and resonate with families so they connect with your school.  

Marketing is a broad topic, with a lot of different subcategories; and while this can make it fun to explore new avenues, it can also make it confusing. We’re breaking it down into manageable steps so you can develop a private school marketing plan that will boost admissions. 

Why a School Marketing Plan is Important 

Everyone wants to make a great first impression, including your school. Your marketing plan plays a critical role in how prospective families find you and their initial impression of your school. It also impacts how existing families engage with you.  

When families receive communication from your school or visit your website and social media channels, you want to make sure that they are getting a consistent, clear message that reflects your mission and values. Plus, you want to ensure they are receiving information that is valuable to them.  

Marketing strategies increase school admissions when used correctly. Here are a few specific reasons why a school marketing plan is important. 

1. First Impressions

A school marketing plan ensures your facility gives students and parents a good first impression. You’ll want to showcase the best parts of your school while convincing parents and guardians that it is the best fit for their child. Marketing tools like newsletters, advertisements, and social media posts help spread the word about the wonders of your school’s experience.

2. Engagement and Messaging

Marketing plans also foster engagement with your community. Schools that interact directly with community members often build a strong presence outside of school, ensuring parents and students keep your facility in mind and spread the message about your school.

3. Valuable Information

A strong marketing plan provides valuable information about your school to future students and parents interested in your facility. Through a marketing plan, you can give out seasonal information on sports, talk about extracurricular opportunities or discuss potential classes for the next few semesters. 

4. Garnering Interest

Most importantly, a marketing plan ensures your school garners the interest of families. When the community knows more about your school and your positive impact on students, they are more likely to enroll their children.

5. Being Prepared 

Marketing plans also ensure preparedness. The more organized your marketing materials and plans are, the more likely your tactics will succeed with potential clients and customers, or in this case, families of future students. 

With a strategic marketing plan in place, your school will garner interest throughout the school year and be prepared for a successful admissions season.

Here are three steps you can take to begin building your plan. 

Step 1: Analyze Your Current Admissions Marketing Tactics

Step 1: Analyze Your Current Admissions Marketing Tactics

First, it’s important to know and understand your current market position. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis can help identify how your admissions marketing tactics can be improved in the future. The SWOT analysis tactic helps pinpoint the internal and external factors which contribute to the failure or success of your operations. Internal factors include strengths and weaknesses or factors within the company you can more easily control. External factors include opportunities and threats, which are often outside your company’s control.

Let’s take a closer look at what each part includes: 

  • Strengths: What does your school do well throughout the admissions process? What marketing tactics have produced positive results? By analyzing your current strengths, you can begin to produce effective marketing tactics for the right audiences.
  • Weaknesses: What areas need improvement or lack resources? Knowing this going into planning can help you set realistic and attainable goals.  
  • Opportunities: Are there hidden opportunities to improve upon your weaknesses? Or perhaps build upon an area you do well? Many opportunities show themselves through outreach and analysis of the customers and audiences in your area.
  • Threats: For schools, this may look like a high degree of competition with neighboring schools, decreasing enrollment rate, or lack of staff resources. Though it may seem intimidating, acknowledging threats can help you create a more effective marketing plan in the long run. 

 As you complete the SWOT analysis, it may be helpful to research what marketing tactics neighboring schools are using to attract applicants. This can help you identify how your school can stand out. The goal of SWOT is to help your company brainstorm what parts of your company stand out from the competition by analyzing your current resources and limitations. 

Step 2: Setting and Tracking Goals 

Setting and tracking goals ensure that you are spending time and resources effectively. SMART goals can help you with goal setting while identifying KPIs aid in measuring progress. Explore how to effectively set SMART goals and why using KPIs can help you measure reliable results:

Setting SMART Goals 

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Creating SMART goals is an actionable framework for your marketing plan. You can choose to create short or long-term goals and break them out by the campaign.  

  • Specific: What are the desired outcomes of your marketing efforts? 
  • Measurable: How will you track and report results? 
  • Attainable: Look at historical data to determine if your targets are reasonable.   
  • Realistic: Does your staff have the time and resources to dedicate to this goal? 
  • Timely: What is the timeframe for achieving this goal? Consider breaking it up into milestones for long-term objectives. 

Each part of the SMART goal can be used to define what goals best fit your marketing tactics. For example, use the “specific” area to decide whether you want to produce new students from your marketing plan. Or, you can use the “timely” area to make goals on completing advertisements within one month. 

Using Key Performance Indicators to Measure Results

Tying your SMART goals to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) gives you an easy way to track and analyze results by channel. KPIs help companies find what areas drive business and produce leads or potential customers and clients.

Examples of KPIs that schools could use by the channel include the following: 

  • Social media: Number of impressions, engagements, or new followers.
  • Website: Number of new vs. returning visitors, session length, form completions.
  • Email: Open, conversion, and click-through rates, unsubscribers, email referrals, and deliverability. 
  • Paid advertising: Clickthrough rate, return on ad spend, and cost per acquisition.
  • YouTube: Total watch time, likes and shares, views, and subscribers.

KPIs can help you gauge the audience you are reaching and what kind of information they find valuable. You can incorporate these insights into your marketing plan centered around admissions. For example, if you receive a high amount of engagement on social media posts showcasing school culture, you may want to consider content that promotes a positive school culture and how your school maintains that as a selling point in your admissions campaigns.  

 There’s an opportunity for schools to leverage historical data to plan marketing initiatives that boost admissions. Systems like Ravenna ADMIT allow you to access prior year reports quickly and easily so you can identify admissions trends and create targeted campaigns accordingly.  

Step 3: Create an Admissions Marketing Plan

Now comes the fun part—the creation of your new admissions marketing plan! Here are a few steps to keep in mind: 

  • Choose your channel: Think about what channels you would like to use to get your message out there. Consider channels like social media, print or direct mail, email, text messages, direct phone calls, and landing pages on your school website. 
  • Consider where to host events: You may also think about hosting virtual or in-person events where prospective families can connect with you and ask questions.  
  • Develop topics to cover: Next, develop the main topics you would like each campaign to cover and decide on a general direction for the messaging. Think about the “what” and the “why” for each campaign—what are you asking of your audience and why would they be inclined to apply to your school? Providing value and creating an emotional connection with your campaigns are great ways to entice prospective families.  
  • Plan deliverables and assign due dates: Then, you can begin planning the deliverables and assigning due dates. Worried about staying on top of it all? Try creating a master marketing calendar for staff. You can list campaign details like topics, audiences, channels, status, due dates, and responsibilities.   

Understanding your audience is an important part of marketing messaging. Here are a few tips to get started.    

Create a New School Marketing Plan With Help From Ravenna

Create a New School Marketing Plan With Help From Ravenna

As you go live and monitor your marketing plan performance, remember that it is okay to adjust as needed! Even with the most meticulous marketing plan, there is still a level of experimentation involved to see what resonates with your audience.  

Duplicate or build upon tactics that gain traction; don’t be afraid to try something new or mix it up! Marketing plans are fluid, and what works or doesn’t will continue changing based on new trends, generational differences, and technology. The good news is that the latest technology can also help you build comprehensive marketing initiatives that increase admissions. Read our K-12 Trends Report to see how schools are using modern solutions to best market themselves.   

Looking to elevate the entire admission process to attract new families and streamline processes? Explore Ravenna ADMIT with one of our experts. You can create an effective marketing strategy with assistance from Ravenna software solutions. Contact us today to speak to a representative or request a demonstration online.

Nina Bernardi

Nina Bernardi

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