How much should a School Budget for Marketing? 


A Different Way of Thinking about School Marketing

Before you embark on a school marketing program, you need to understand the true value of acquiring a new student for your school. Ask yourself this; How many new students would I need each month to off-set my marketing budget and exponentially increase enrollments on a regular basis?

Think of enrollments as currency. If you reinvest the funds from one or two enrollments, and parley them into 7 or 8 enrollments, I’d consider that a good investment.

Change of Mindset:

Resist the temptation to equate your current rate of student enrollment with what you are likely to get with an aggressive integrated marketing strategy.

Stop thinking of enrollment marketing as an expense, and start thinking of it as investment. A well-run strategic marketing plan should more than pay for itself with additional enrollments that you would otherwise not have had.


Planning Resource: A comprehensive overview of the same school enrollment strategies that we use for our school marketing clients.


Let’s assume that you are willing to dedicate the equivalent of the tuition you receive for one student each month, and apply that to a professional marketing program.

For example, a national study of charter school funding (University of Arkansas) found that California charter schools were receiving on average $7,821 per pupil in public funds. Charter school funding varies by State, and private learning institutions determine their own tuition. However, if you were a charter school in California, you might have around $5,000 each month to run your marketing program.

Essentially, you’re cashing in the value of one student each month to go out and get many more students each subsequent month.

What are the Components of a Good School Marketing Plan?

We run a lot of, marketing campaigns for Charter Schools, Private Schools and Colleges. Here is what typically goes into our school marketing strategies:

  • Growth Driven Website Development
  • Pay-Per-Click Search Campaigns
  • Retargeting & Display Advertising
  • Live Chat Software (programmable for off-line)
  • Facebook Advertising
  • Landing Page Design for enrolling contacts in database (for lead nurturing)
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Data Aggregation & Directory Management
  • On-Page Click Tracking
  • Content Coaching & Creation
  • Social Profile Branding
  • Social Media Publishing & Content Curation
  • Parent Reviews Acquisition Management
  • Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools Set-up
  • Full Reporting & Analysis
  • Consulting & Ad-Hoc Services
  • Lead Nurturing & Marketing Automation
  • Develop a plan to manage inbound leads and sales opportunities

Yipes! That sounds complicated…and expensive. Well, yes and no. There is a fair degree of complexity that goes into an integrated school marketing strategy where everything is somewhat interrelated and codependent.

Expensive? That’s a relative term. If you are still thinking of marketing as an expense, and not an investment, then yes, it’s probably expensive. Personally, I consider the cost of opportunity lost as being expensive.

My premise is that you can more than likely accomplish everything in my school marketing plan above, for the investment of 1 student (or less) each month. Including full service and advertising budgets for Google, Facebook, etc.

What are the Odds you won’t get a ROI?

I’ve worked with Charters, private schools and colleges, and I can tell you from experience, that it is extremely unlikely that reinvesting the equivalent of the tuition of one student each month won’t result in getting back many more enrolments per month in exchange.

In fact, I run through the math in this article I recently published: Digital Marketing Strategies to make your boss look like a Genius. Just scroll down to the “Do the Math” section and follow the logic.

So, How Much Should YOUR School Spend on Marketing?

There are a lot of variables such the size and enrollment capacity of your school, the competitive nature of your market, and the internal resources at your disposal.

Not sure where to begin? I can help by getting you started with an analysis, and perhaps make some suggestions. It’s a pet project of mine, so I answer each inquiry personally. Contact Me

In the meantime, go ahead and download this free guide we put together to help schools with their marketing strategies: “School Masters Guide to Enrolling More Students

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