You know you need to build a student marketing plan for your charter, Catholic or private school, but if you are like most schools, your marketing budget consists of any extra money that you can scrape together from other programs or budgets. I have yet to meet a school client that has a large marketing budget. But there are a lot of free resources out there to help you market your school. Here are my top 5 free resources to help you improve your school’s marketing.
Parent / volunteer marketing experts: If you need a new website because yours was last updated 4 years ago, is there a parent volunteer who might own a digital marketing firm or one that is decent at website design? Or if your collateral material is old and dated and needs to be refreshed, maybe you have a parent who is also a graphic designer. You want to read this article on maximizing parental volunteers to see if you can get some “free” marketing help. This doesn’t cost you any money, it is just a matter of understanding who in your parental base has skills that you could leverage.
On-line reviews: If you are like most schools, word of mouth is your primary recruitment channel. A very simple way to give this a boost is to make sure that you have a lot of positive reviews on all of the online review sites. Encourage all of your parents and teachers to post glowing reviews of your school on the review sites. www.greatschools.com, www.niche.com and www.google.com should be your primary targets since they have the most traffic. These sites are also going to be the primary sites that come up in basic internet searching about your school. They spend considerable amounts of money to improve their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to appear first on searches. Leverage their hard work by making sure you are present on all of these sites.
Social media: Next, you want to make sure that you are present and visible in all of the social networks that your parents use. But cross-posting to every different site takes time. Meet www.hootsuite.com This FREE application allows you to choose three different social networks and cross post to all of them at the same time. It also allows you to schedule postings and has some decent analytics to measure your engagement.
Become a graphics superstar: To enhance those social media posts, www.canva.com is a great FREE and intuitive tool that helps you design and properly size photos, memes, posters, etc. It’s easy enough that a non-designer can create a host of marketing materials. Make sure your posts look good.
Emailing made easy. Finally, you keep saying that you need to create an email marketing campaign to your prospects, but you have been afraid of the cost and challenges of creating this functionality. Be afraid no more! Just go to my friend www.mailchimp.com They have a free option that allows you to build an email marketing database, create simple templates (that your Canva skills will help you make even better), and you can make it responsive as well. Want to automatically send information to someone when they request it via your website? Mailchimp can help you out. Want to only send emails to a certain group like prospective parents who are interested in your arts program? Mailchimp allows you to segment in a very easy fashion.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. I am going to give you one more free offer. Doing marketing right takes a little bit of time and effort. If you don’t know where to start, I would be more than happy to get on the phone with you for 30 minutes to talk about how I can help your school get more enrollment. No hard sell, no obligation, just a friendly voice on the phone who understands how difficult it is to market schools.
Nick LeRoy is the president of Bright Minds Marketing and former Executive Director of the Indiana Charter School Board. Bright Minds Marketing provides marketing and recruitment consulting to private, Catholic and charter schools. For information about how Bright Minds Marketing can help your school improve your marketing, visit us at www.brightmindsmarketing.com, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 317-361-5255.