Students have left for vacation and campuses are quiet(er). The clock to a new school year is ticking down and soon the hustle and bustle of campus life will resume. Yet, while current students and their families may be unplugged for summer, prospective families and alumni remain prime audiences to communicate with. So, since marketing doesn’t take a vacation…which marketing projects should private schools tackle over the summer?
Audit your marketing from the prior year
Monitoring and measuring are critical to improve your prep school marketing for the year ahead. Which marketing channels engaged the biggest audiences? What content drove the most conversions? Did you achieve the marketing goals you set forth for the year? If not, what were the barriers to successful execution and how can they be overcome in the future?
Culling through your arsenal of marketing content will help to identify:
- Brand inconsistencies, such as outdated language and brand color variations
- Gaps that need to be addressed – i.e. does every program or extracurricular activity that needs a piece of collateral have one?
- Opportunities to revamp materials to better serve target audiences (maybe it really is time to take your annual report and develop a complementary video to live in the newsroom of your website, to share in your email marketing and to share through social media)
When auditing your existing marketing assets be sure to evaluate them for clarity, brand consistency, visual appeal and whether the current format is best suited to the content being presented.
Scrub your email marketing lists
Sounds like just as much fun as lying on the beach or stopping by your favorite ice cream stand for a late night treat, right? Email list maintenance, while tedious at times, is key to an effective email marketing campaign. Whether your school has high bounce rates for its email marketing due to outdated addresses or is looking to build its email database, this down time is the right time to tackle this project.
As you’re updating your email marketing lists, be sure to segment them appropriately – donors, parents, alumni, current students, prospective students, etc. – to allow for more targeted email marketing in the year to come and beyond.
Evaluate your plan for engaging alumni
While the class of 2016 may be busy preparing for the new adventures that lay ahead, their memories of life on campus are still fresh in their minds. With their connection to your school still strong, it’s important to identify ways to maintain that connection and engage them in the years ahead, be it as mentors or donors.
When honing your alumni communications strategy consider which communication channels are best suited to reaching the audience as well as how to motivate them to share their own memories and stories. The student perspective is invaluable in helping to recruit future students.
Keep an eye on the competition
The admissions process is competitive, not only for students but for the schools who seek to enroll them. Summer is a great time to look at how other private schools are positioning themselves. You don’t want your school to get lost in a “sea of sameness” so consider reviewing competitors’ marketing as part of your marketing audit.
If your school surveys children and families who ultimately chose to enroll at a school other than yours, that information will also be helpful in determining the competitive advantages among your peers.
Tackle website updates
With less activity occurring on campus during the summer months, it is common for websites to be updated less frequently. There is less student news to share, fewer events happening on campus and the pace of campus life overall is slower. While having less new content can be a challenge, it can’t lead to an outdated website. As prospective families are reviewing schools’ websites and deciding where to tour and apply, they want to see the latest and greatest from your organization. A website that is visited in August and hasn’t been updated since school ended in May or June doesn’t lend the best impression.
While the school year may only run for roughly nine months out of 12, effectively marketing your school to prospective students and families, current students and families, donors and alumni is a year-round process. Take the time between school years to hone your marketing materials, set forth a measurable strategy for the year ahead, and identify meaningful ways to bring the student perspective into your marketing.