The first strategy in improving the marketing results for your school is defining and understanding your target markets. (Yes, you have more than one) Market knowledge and research is essential for any school that wants to grow.
Click Here to view the webinar series on the Top 10 Marketing Strategies. Your three target markets in order of priority are:
1. Faculty (i.e., All employees of the school)
2. Families (Parents, students, grandparents, etc.)
3. Funders (Individual, corporate, government, foundation, etc.)
Understand the Demographics
Using a broad, shotgun approach to marketing is more expensive and less efficient. Focus is your ally to produce better results from your marketing dollars. You'll waste less time pursuing people who are not the right fit, giving you more energy and resources to be more productive and grow.
Questions to consider in seeking deeper understanding:
● Where do they live?
● What do they read?
● Where do they attend?
● What do they join?
● Where did they call home?
● What do they believe they want?
● What do they believe?
● Where do they work?
● What else do they do?
Consider creating an Emphathy Map for each of your target markets, where you reflect on what they are thinking/feeling, seeing, and hearing. You can also evaluate what they consider their pains and gains, which is very helpful for enhancing your value proposition.
This will help you define a customer persona, where you create a fictional character who exhibits the characteristics of your ideal faculty/family/funder. This would include data points such as gender, income, education, core beliefs/values, career/industry, hobbies, points of connection, etc. Personifying each target market helps you see beyond your assumptions and see the school from their perspective.
Collect Survey Data
Another valuable way to learn about your target markets is to collect survey data from each specific group. Online surveys save time, but you will get more valuable data and build stronger relationships through personal interviews. We recommend having conversations with the following:
1. Current Faculty & Families
2. Those to whom you offered employment or enrollment but they declined
3. Those who are new to your school
4. Those who have left the school but you wanted to retain
According to multiple experts, the value of this data increases when you hire an outside company to conduct these surveys. The responses tend to be more honest and accurate when someone disconnected from the school is leading the dialogue. (See Target Market Family Research) Responses can be aggregated and analyzed outside of the inevitable biases of those within the organization to get the best results.
Build Your Database
Building your database is key to effectively understanding and connecting with your target markets. Continuously collect names and contact information for prospective faculty, families, and funders, then utilize other marketing strategies to build engagement with them. Sources for data include your own admission inquiries, local publications and government agencies, real estate data, and other local businesses.
Additional Questions to ensure you have the utmost focus on your target market:
Clarity regarding your target markets is the foundation of your marketing strategy, enabling you to cultivate relationships through a progressive sequence of engagement.