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5 Ways to Convince Your Boss You Don’t Suck at Marketing Your School


Student dressed like a businessman ready to grow his school marketing.


Digital Marketing Strategies to make your boss look like a Genius

The thing about marketing is you can’t just do it, you have to prove it. Unfortunately, you can suck at marketing, even if someone else is doing it.

Fortunately, all bosses have a weakness…they succumb to data, strategy, and even educated speculation. Want to not suck at school marketing? Here are 5 tips that will leave your boss thinking she’s a genius…for hiring you.

AUTHORS NOTE: Our agency specializes in School Marketing Strategies, so many of my references are geared towards that industry. Don’t let that put you off, these points are 100% universal

#1: Know Your Prospective Parents:

One way to not suck at marketing is to have an actual procedure to know who you are marketing to. Want to impress your boss? Show her that you understand the parents you are marketing to.

The only way to do that, is to get it down on paper. We use a technique called Buyer Persona development. Buyer personas are fictitious, generalized representations of your ideal parents. They help you understand your customers and prospective parents better, and make it easier for you to tailor your marketing efforts to your specific audience.

#2: Do the Math:

Executive Directors love to manage by the numbers. Demonstrating that you put some thought into the numbers is the first sign that you don’t suck at school marketing.

Let’s say that you’re the marketing director of a Charter School. What’s the value of a new student to the school? Depending on what State you’re in, it could be $6,000 - $10,000 per year.

Now let’s say that a school marketing agency quoted you $5,000 per month to do everything from website management, to paid advertising and advanced lead nurturing strategies. You know that it’s going to work, but Yipes! $5k month? You can’t bring that to your boss, she’d laugh you out of her office.

OK, grab your calculator…

How many new student enrollments will it take to offset your marketing investment? In this scenario, the answer is one. If you only got one more student enrollment than you would have otherwise have gotten, you would already be ahead. Every new student generated by your investment makes you look like a genius.

"You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
- Henry Ford

#2b: Do the Math – Part Deux

Not sucking at marketing means you need to come up with projections to justify the investment. There are a lot of moving parts to digital marketing, and there are no guarantees, but you can set up different “best-case” “worse-case” scenarios.

Let’s do a budget estimate for a paid advertising program in a 15-mile radius around this school:

budget sample

In this scenario if we spend $930 each month, we can expect approximately 740 visitors by parents to this Charter School’s website each month.

Now, let’s say 10% of the visitors contact the admissions department. That’s 74 potential new students. Now let’s say that only 10% of those contacts turn into actual enrollments. That would be 7-8 new enrollments each month.

If you enroll only 7 new students each month, and the value of a new student was $7,000, you just spent $930 to bring in an additional $49,000. You’re paltry investment just netted the school over $48,000.

Now play around with the numbers. What does it look like at 5%? 2%? Even bringing in one new student will leave the school in the black.

Are these numbers an absolute forecast? No, but they sure indicate that you did the math and can make a good case to your boss that this is a worthwhile investment.*

*DISCLAIMER: It’s not as simple as just committing to a budget, you actually need to know what you’re doing.

#3: Think Strategically:

The pinnacle of not sucking at marketing is when you suggest (with confidence), a long-term integrated strategy that shows that you know the market…and what to do with that information.

Continuing with our school marketing scenario, we know that not every parent (or student) is going to make a commitment of this magnitude right away. Parents don’t take their child’s education lightly, and often require encouragement over time. It’s the same with any “Big Ticket” purchase where the consumer has to think it over… often for an extended period.

Real marketers play the long game. Want to show your boss that you’re a real marketer? Think long-term. Suggest a “Lead Nurturing” strategy, where you focus on communication to build confidence and rapport.

Typically, this is done by providing valuable, relevant (non-salesy) information by offering them a piece of premium content (like a guide or eBook) in exchange for their contact information, and then following up strategically with a well-planned series of emails culminating in a call-to-action.

#4: Data Beats Opinions:

Smart marketers cast a wide net, track everything, eliminate what doesn’t work, and double down on what does.

One of our Charter School clients, a large “Virtual” school in the North East was spending $75,000 a year on TV advertising. When I asked him how it was working, he had no idea.

Had he used a separate phone tracking number, and a specific landing page on the schools’ website, he would have known how many phone calls and visitors he received as a result of his TV commercial. If it wasn’t working, that is a LOT of money he could have reallocated to other strategies.

Without data you're just another person with an opinion

As it says on the back of our business card “Measurable Results… Because Data Beats Opinions”

#5: In-house v. Outsource:

Unless you have an actual marketing team in-house, you might want to do the math before taking on an entire marketing program yourself. If you want to look smart, take a look at alternative marketing options, and do the math (remember…bosses love math).

Weigh the cost of having an employee (who has to be diverted from their normal duties) who makes $40k/year, and has no advanced marketing experience, against outsourcing to a professional agency whose fees are say, $2,000/month ($24k/year).

By positioning yourself as the marketing director, or liaison, your time is better spent overseeing operations, than getting bogged down in the minutia. If you can get more for less, you don’t suck at marketing (did I mention that bosses like saving money?)

Not sucking at Marketing takes confidence

Best case scenario is that your boss is fiscally responsible and understands the value of research where the numbers make sense. Worst case scenario is that your boss is a tightwad, but appreciates common sense and agrees that you don’t suck at marketing.

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