Your Mission and Vision as Your Guide
Before we delve deeper into school marketing plan 101, just a few words about your mission and vision, your organization is guided by two mission and vision statements. Those statements communicate the direction and values of your organization.
Thus, whatever you do and all the plans you make, they are all done with your mission and vision in mind, which especially applies to your marketing planning.
This will prevent you from including in the plan marketing activities and initiatives that do not align with your organization’s mission and vision. This must be clear to everybody participating at the table.
Challenges in Making Marketing Plans for Schools
From the planning to the actual implementation of marketing plans, schools face a lot of challenges. The uncertainty around next year’s enrolment, especially in this time of Covid-19, can make it challenging for all schools to make a marketing plan and find resources to fund its implementation.
Nonetheless, you must create a plan and make sure it is a plan that will generate results when implemented. You would want to make sure that you have a steady flow of income, and all your operations will be supported by the funding that will come from student enrolment. Making an effective plan can help guide you on what strategies to use in those particular aspects.
But how can you make an effective plan? That’s one more challenge you need to think about and probably the most important question in this subject to tackle.
A private school marketing plan should be:
- A carefully crafted so that it can help keep an organization on track
- A measure for performance and progress achieved in marketing
- Help identify marketing efforts that drive the best results
- Provides a map or a guide on a possible re-execution of components of a marketing campaign proven to be effective.
When these several components have been carefully considered in making the plan, you probably have created a good one. Remember that plans need adjustments at some points within the implementation depending on various factors such as availability of resources and staffing, natural disasters and emergencies, changes in educational policies, and so forth.
For now, the important thing is to begin the process and take this process step by step.
Steps to Creating a Marketing Plan for Schools
A school marketing plan template can help you significantly when creating such a plan. There are online services that provide free sample plan templates and other marketing services for schools and other business types.
It is best to check out these services and develop a collaborative partnership with some of them, if possible.
Once you have a template in your hand, start the planning process with these six steps:
Identify Your Goals
You can input in the plan several goals based on different information, documents, and details. You can ask your school to provide with you the following documents to have something that you can establish enrolment, event attendance, after-school programs, donations, communication with parents, etc.
Based on this information, proceed to write specific goals such as:
- Increase enrolment by 15 percent
- A new after-school program with a minimum of 20 students
- Develop a newsletter with a 40 percent readership
Note that goals should be realistic and attainable.
You cannot achieve all of your goals at once. Some can be achieved over a short time, while others can only be achieved over a longer duration. It may even require you to divide a larger goal into subsets of smaller goals that are attainable in shorter periods.
For example, it is unlikely that you can double enrollment figures within two years. A sub-goal for that is: increase enrolment inquiries by 10 percent or 15 percent.
Make that a sub-goal under the overarching goal of increasing enrolment by 8 percent to 10 percent, which is a goal that is probably more realistic and more attainable in your particular situation.
Assess Needs and Resources
Here is another critical aspect of how to market a school effectively and realistically. First, you cannot have a plan without a corresponding budget that should go with its implementation.
Obviously, as you draw a plan, you also have the amount of money you will be spending for it at the back of your mind. Together with money, it is also logical along that line to think about available time, tools, and talents, too.
For instance, it is one thing to say that you have a goal of revamping your online marketing by particularly focusing on SEO optimization in your website’s design, which is a nice strategy to boost your presence on the internet with.
The question is: Do you have an available talent for that? Or outsourcing it is the only way to make that goal a reality? If so, you will need a considerable amount of funding for that.
If it is not realistic to achieve such a goal for the moment due to budget constraints, would it not be a sore to your eye every time you look at that particular item written in the plan? Everything should be realistically and financially coverable for them to be included in the plan.
Brainstorm for Strategies in Accomplishing Your Goals
Too often, people think that once goals and resources have been identified, they are already ready to implement their plan. No, we disagree.
Sandwiched between the prior steps and implementation should be the always forgotten step of brainstorming for strategies, which is the most fun part for many who love to show creativeness with their original and/or modified but borrowed ideas. Nonetheless, it is someone’s opportunity to shine with their creative muscle.
Here, everyone is invited to show the particular strategies they can suggest. It can be a traditional strategy that might just work in your particular setting at this particular moment in your history of educational service. Or it can be something fresh that you have just read about from an academic magazine.
Whatever it is, put it into writing, make sure that you have a clear example to illustrate it, and explain how that particular strategy applies to your school.
Write targeted strategies such as:
- Discounts and free coaching for students who love sports
- Home visits for providing regular feedback on performance, needs, and areas of improvement
- Security – sending the message to the parents on how perfectly safe your campus is for their children with details on the security program
Visualize the Plan Being Implemented in Action
Here is the part where you illustrate the timeline and the tools you will use for each of the goals you have set. The more details you put in this part and the more you can explain why you are doing a certain activity, the better.
Visualizing the plan in action also helps make you committed to finishing a particular task in a given period and avoid doing other things that may be requested during the implementation phase. You can respectfully deny any request that will make you deviate from the task at hand per what is written in the plan.
In this part also, you can put in the plan snippets of plan Bs just in case something happens that will prevent you from implementing a certain part of the plan. Visualize what you can do on that occasion as alternatives.
In case you have a problem with manpower, and there is a specific task that can’t be accomplished because of that, do you have a replacement you can tap and temporarily use? The same applies to tools – the plan should outline alternatives if they are not available.
Assess and Improve
Any plan has its strengths and weaknesses, so it is not enough that you build a marketing plan, implement it, and you are done. You have to go over it repeatedly to check all courses of action have been completed. After completion, you should also have tools in place for measuring results.
How effective was the plan and also its implementation? What are the bottlenecks or limitations you came across during implementation? What parts of the plan should be subjected to analysis and deeper scrutiny in the next meeting, and what parts of it should be downright removed?
If this is your first time sitting down to make a marketing plan for your school, it may feel overwhelming to you. Just follow the simple steps to get started.
There is no such thing as a perfect plan, so it is normal for anybody like you to come up, at first, with a plan that is not so perfect but that, thankfully, can just be refined as you go along.
Now sit down and start writing your first goal.