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Are you employed in the marketing department of a community college or university? Is your goal to run a successful fundraising campaign for your school? Are you interested in starting your own preschool, driving school, or adult business classes center? An intelligent school marketing strategy is crucial to the success of any of these endeavors.
These school marketing tips will help you attract more students, increase revenues for your fundraisers and donations from alumni, and increase awareness for your school.
That means there’s plenty of opportunity, but there’s also plenty of competition. Whether you’re in the startup phase of a private education business, charged with leading public school fundraiser campaigns, or responsible for revitalizing the image (and revenues) for your school, these marketing tips will help you make the grade.
Your investment will depend on the type of education business you’d like to start, where you’ll be located, what equipment you need, and what market you serve. An online education business could be started for minimal investment, while a private adult training facility could cost millions. Franchises have their own fees, which can likewise vary.
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Whether you’ll be educating or helping educators with branding and student acquisition, you need to develop a strong marketing plan that outlines what you do, who you will serve, estimates costs, and projects revenues.
Your business plan will help you chart your company financials; the following will help you create a marketing plan for your school – your roadmap to attracting students, customers, and clients.
School marketing is unique in that you're selling education and opportunity while also selling an environment and a community. Even though your product is different, your basic marketing requirements are the same as any business or nonprofit. High enrollment figures and successful school fundraising begin with effective branding.
Ever notice how Ivy League schools enjoy a reputation for being the best of the best and how some universities are known as party schools? There may be truth to such claims, but the fact that schools perpetuate the labels means they understand the power of branding. Harvard is an elite school but you know there are parties near campus every weekend; and you can get an elite education at a "party school."
Whether a college or a private preschool, branding your school helps you recruit your ideal students, keep your classes full, and bring in more revenue.
What is your niche in the education industry? Ask yourself how you differ from the competition and focus on that to help you define your niche.
What you do is one thing; how it benefits your customers is another. Make a list of your benefits and identify why students (or parents) should choose your school.
Are your customers parents or students? Both? How can you appeal to your entire customer base, when different segments have different goals and expectations?
What is your school all about? What are your philosophies? What do you stand for, and who do you serve?
Brainstorm potential taglines that expresses your school’s identity. Then, select the most accurate and memorable to base your brand on.
Consider your unique selling points, your audience’s problems, fears, and desires, and how offer the best education solution to that audience. Create a slogan or tagline that sums up your school – this is your brand, and it must permeate every aspect of your public image, policies, and marketing initiatives.
A skilled graphic designer can turn your brand into powerful visuals that symbolize what your school stands for. Your school colors, logo, font selections, and other graphic elements should be dictated by a formal style guide – which should be adhered to on all your brand assets.
The goal is to earn recognition for your school at a glance; when you’ve achieved that, you’ve developed a strong school brand image.
You need the right tools to market your school!
An essential tool for making a great first impression. All school professionals should have business cards to distribute to their networks and contacts. If you operate an education-related business, hand out business cards to prospects. Increase your brand prowess with ultra business card printing, featuring triple-thick paper stock and a memorable band of edge color.
Brochures are staple marketing materials. Use them to promote your school, special programs, athletics, and more. Brochure printing is also essential for your school fundraising drives.
Booklets are indispensable school marketing tools. You can print booklets for course and class schedules, multi-page marketing brochures, athletic game programs, school program and fundraising overviews, and end-of-year reports.
If your school has a bookstore, you can print catalogs to showcase your apparel and other retail items. Catalogs are likewise perfect for take-home fundraising campaigns and selling gear to alumni and donors.
Use bookmarks to brand your school. You might print a bookmark featuring your school logo on one side, and URLs for helpful school resources on the back.
Direct-mail postcards are perfect for reaching well-targeted audiences. You can even use them to segment audiences: one message for potential students, another for their parents. Command attention at the mailbox with edge-striped ultra postcard printing.
Promote school pride with window clings, which can also be sold via school fundraisers.
Locker magnets and car door magnets increase your school brand visibility; refrigerator magnets featuring school schedules, sports schedules, cafeteria menus, and other information are useful to students and parents.
Banners are useful for not only promoting your school, but also for directing pedestrian traffic on large campuses. They’re also great for advertising special school events, enrollment periods, and unique programs.
Print posters to motivate students and to promote school events and activities. Display posters at career days and other events to generate interest and brand recognition.
Flyers are like mini-posters that can be distributed or inserted anywhere - from magazines, newspapers, and newsletters to bulletin boards and restroom stall walls.
Spread school spirit with sticker printing. You can print school bumper stickers, custom stickers printed for lockers, notebooks, and laptops, address labels, and even parking pass stickers.
All schools need a comprehensive information kit to send to prospective students, complete with a brochure, business card, relevant flyers, course offering booklet, and other printed materials neatly filed in a branded pocket folder.
Calendars that depict images of your campus in action, showcase your students and their achievements, and highlight important school dates are a great way to put your school front and center 365 days a year.
Today's students are tech savvy, so you need to have a website to compete. Make sure your URL is on all your print marketing materials. Send regular email newsletters, and showcase your school, your students, and your achievements on social media pages.
Copywriting plays an integral role in your school marketing campaigns. The following details how to leverage the power of the pen to attract students, solicit donations from alumni, and market your school programs and events.
Your headline should command attention and set the mood of your marketing piece. It can be bold, poignant, or boisterous so long as it makes the recipient want to learn more about your school. A strong headline makes an emotional plea, delivers a benefit statement, and/or promotes an exclusive offer.
Tell prospects what’s in it for them, in no uncertain terms. Create desire for your school with strong benefit statements.
Professional schools, online courses, driver’s education classes, and others can deliver desirable offers. Other schools might be better making key points about how their institutions offer superior experiences and educations – however, some online and community colleges can promote less expensive education options.
Your prospective students, alumni, and donors might be highly intelligent, but you still want to leave them with a clear call to action that details exactly what they need to do next. Give them several ways to respond or get more information (visit your website, visit your school, and call a phone number, etc.).
Creating school marketing materials is only part of the process. The following details popular distribution channels for school and education marketing.
Direct-mail marketing makes it easy to promote your school to a well-defined audience. It also allows you to segment audiences and adjust your message accordingly.
Repetition is key to direct-mail marketing success, so map out a long-term strategy that puts your school in front of prospects on a regular basis. Offer incentives for response whenever possible, and be sure to incorporate a tracking mechanism (such as a reference number) so you can measure response.
Promote your school with flyer inserts, poster placement, and banners. Take out paid advertisements on billboards and in newspapers, magazines, trade publications, and more. Purchase digital advertising where your ideal students are likely to find them.
Hire a street team to hand out stickers. Host events, set up booths at trade shows, festivals, and college fairs, and develop special programming designed to introduce prospective students to your school.
Test, track and tweak: These three T’s will help you develop winning school print marketing campaigns.
Always test different variations of your marketing materials on small portions of your mailing list to see which performs best
Track response so you know who responds and what they respond to
Evaluate recognizable trends so you can customize your message and develop stronger campaigns based on real-world data
Adhere to these rules and you’ll be able to develop reliable, predictable, and successful marketing campaigns for your school.
Try these effective marketing strategies for schools and resources to boost your marketing efforts this year:
Host a student-led publicity stunt, invite the media, and get free PR. Every week there are headlines about the latest or traditional college crazes, and most are quite tasteful yet newsworthy. Encourage your students to contribute creative ideas that put your school on the map.
If you have athletic facilities, a library, or a media center, you can hold public hours so that your local community becomes more familiar with your campus and more likely to want to attend or donate. Host open houses and student tours.
Host competitions and events between schools. Everyone has a basketball and debate team, so get creative here - how about a treasure hunt with a big prize?
Make sure you have posters, flyers, banners, and other materials placed in high-traffic areas. Never underestimate the value of consistent visibility.
Many schools have famous alumni. Ask yours to help you market your school.
Use your newsletters, email, social media accounts, brochures, and booklets to showcase your students. Compile real-world case studies that demonstrate how you help students achieve their goals.
Identify influential students and hire them to promote your school in their hometown. Give them business cards, stickers, brochures, and information kits to hand out.
Here are a few links to school marketing resources you can use to bolster enrollment.
Full-service printing, direct mailing and mailing list generation.
]]>Education Marketing Association ]]>
Trade organization for educational products.
]]>Data and Marketing Association ]]>
Offers insights any business can use, including education-related businesses.
]]>American Marketing Association ]]>
Billed as the essential community for marketers.
]]>National Council for Marketing and Public Relations ]]>
Connects community college communicators.
State and regional associations
Professional business associations, early education associations, and similar organizations can often be found on the state and regional levels. Search for resources in your area.