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School Marketing Strategies - Digital v. Traditional

Author: Chuck Bankoff

Every Student has a Shelf Life

As you congratulate yet another graduating class, or say goodbye to students who move on for their own reasons, the business person in you realizes that you need to enroll more students just to keep pace with the needs of the school.

Education has become an increasingly competitive industry over the last few years, and is poised for continued growth in 2019.  Unfortunately schools that continue to rely on the same traditional marketing techniques they used in the past will most likely see decreasing enrollments as the behavioral patterns of parents of school aged children have permanently changed.

Traditional school marketing and enrollment techniques used to work because it wasn’t competing with the shifting behavioral habits, and all the different attention grabbing options people have today. In particular, parents of school aged children are now plugged in to their electronic devices like it was a physical appendage.

Authors Note: This is an excerpt from our guide: "School Masters Guide to Enrolling More Students”. This guide is free to Schools, and you can download your own copy at the end of this article.

People used to spend a lot of time on a few media, like phonebooks, magazines, television, radio, newspapers and billboards. Now people spend a little time on a lot of media, like different websites, mobile aps, search engines, blogs and social media.

You may indeed be enjoying some degree of success using traditional techniques. However you are restricted by the natural limitations of “Spray and Pray” marketing which is targeted geographically, not demographically.

Traditional Marketing Strategies are Typically More Expensive

Direct Mail: The cost of design, printing and postage makes this a costly proposition. Unless you have a highly-targeted mailing list, these miniature master-pieces are headed to the recycle bin.

Phone Book: Parents of school aged children don’t use the phone book that’s mailed to their home. When they are looking for something, they go to the internet.

Television: Local Cable advertising rates are not unreasonable, but you have no control over who is on the other end of the TV. By the way, most people record their programs, and fast forward through everything that isn’t their program. That includes your commercial…

Radio: Satellite radio and personal play lists that stream to your car are making terrestrial radio obsolete. No one with school aged children sits through commercials in their cars anymore.

Billboards: Good for repeated exposure during repetitious commutes, but it zips by too fast to take note of anything meaningful.

Traditional Advertising is More Expensive

Most traditional advertising is based on interrupting, or “inserting” your message into people’s daily lives. Unfortunately, even when your message does get through to the right person, they may not be able to react to it at that moment.

For example, the average cost of a 30-second spot on KLOS radio in Los Angeles is $1,083 for a single 30-second spot. Based on $2.50 per visitor for Pay-Per-Click advertising (for reference only), that would translate to 433 actual visitors to your website. The difference is that those 433 visitors were actually searching for a school, whereas your radio spot was broadcast to anyone who just might be listening at the time. Additionally, once your spot has aired, it is done regardless if your target market heard it or not.  

“According to HubSpot, Inbound marketing techniques cost an average of 62% less than traditional marketing.”

This generation of parents of school aged children no longer tolerate or trust this type of messaging. They want, and they are used to, getting information on demand. They don’t want to be sold to, they want help solving their problems, on their terms.

A Few Interesting Statistics:

The average consumer now spends more time online and in Apps than watching TV. (TechCrunch)

The Internet became the largest medium for advertising in 2016 (ahead of TV), growing 12.9%. (MediaPost)

Social ad spending has doubled over the past two years.

By 2019 mobile advertising will represent 72% of all US digital ad spend (Payfirma)

Spending on digital marketing is predicted to grow 12% in the next year, while budgets for traditional (non-Internet) advertising will fall 2%. (The CMO Survey)

Digital marketing spend has been estimated to account for 35% of total budgets in 2016. (Business2Community)

The top four channels for increases in digital marketing spend last year were email marketing (61% of marketers increasing spending on this channel), social media (49%), mobile marketing (40%), and SEO/PPC (38%). (Business2Community)

Users who are retargeted to are 70% more likely to convert. (HubSpot)

School marketing today takes a 360° integrated strategy.

We know that that Digital Marketing techniques work, but only as part of a cohesive strategy. A strategy that pulls together elements of Site, Search & Social. A great charter school website that accurately reflects the school in the finest light, a well thought out search strategy to be in front of parents when they are searching for you, and a strategic social media plan to draw parents to your message.

You are welcome to download our eBook “Charter School Masters Guide to Enrolling More Students”, where we outline the same strategies that we use for our own Charter School enrollment programs for our clients. You can use this strategy as an outline for your own internal charter school marketing team, or as a guide to work with an outside agency that specializes in charter school marketing.

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The Schoolmasters Guide to Enrolling more Students

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