Like a roadmap guiding you to your destination, a good marketing plan is essential to achieving your goals. It organizes your priorities to determine the best route to take, and forces you to think and rethink your marketing throughout your journey.
So how do you actually develop an effective marketing plan?
How to Create a Basic Marketing Plan for Your School
The best marketing plans are dynamic and flexible to respond to market changes and innovations, while allowing you to constantly evolve and grow. They require significant market and competitor research, time to do and reflect, and the initiative to complete.
In Jay Levinson and Al Lautenslager’s Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, part of the internationally best-selling Guerrilla Marketing series, Levinson and Lautenslager outline a simple framework for an effective business marketing plan, which can also be applied to schools.
- State the purpose of your marketing
- Describe your target market
- Describe the niche you serve
- List the benefits of your school and competitive advantage over others
- Clearly state your school’s identity and branding
- List the marketing tactics you will employ
- Detail your budget
- Identify new market opportunities to be investigated in the coming year
What is the Purpose of Your Marketing?
At first glance, this might seem obvious. Many schools simply want to reach a wider audience and attract more families. However, with some thought, you can likely come up with other possibilities, such as the following:
- How to become a magnet for the families the school is best suited to serve
- How to become the recognized as the top school in your city
- How to attract world class faculty
Although these goals are all relevant to many schools, each would require a different marketing plan to attain the goal in question. Be clear which goal(s) you are focusing on and tailor your marketing plan appropriately.
Describing Your Target Market and Niche
In our article on creating content that families value and our complimentary eBook, “The Inbound Marketing Guide for International Schools,” we introduce the concept of candidate personas.
Creating candidate personas means writing fictionalized descriptions of the families you want to attract through your marketing. At a minimum, they should describe typical people who enroll their children at your school (demographics and psychographics), why they do so, and how they go about it. (See the above article for more detail on how to create the personas.)
The more detail you can put into the description of your target audience, the better. List demographics, habits, desires, activities, and locations of your target market.
Once this is done, you can describe your niche market. A niche market is a very specific portion of a much larger target. In defining your niche, think hard about where you are the leader in what you offer and if you can do things more efficiently than your competitors. What type of people will benefit from these specific things? They will be part of your niche market.
The Initiative to Get It Done!
We’ve described three of the eight important components of a basic marketing plan. In Part 2, we will detail the remaining five. But until then, start working on identifying the purpose of your marketing, your target market, and your niche. Remember, a short, complete marketing plan is far superior to one that’s longer but never quite finished!