6 Month Marketing Timeline for Montessori Schools
It’s January and the school year is quickly racing by. If you have not yet thought about marketing, then this article is for you. We’ve created the most compact 6-month marketing plan on the planet! Use the ideas below to kick-start your planning and make a positive impact on your enrollment. Remember that marketing is a process, not a race. It’s OK if you can’t do everything all at once. Few schools can. While you may yearn to give your school an instant face-lift, doing a little at a time is certainly better than nothing.
Month 1: Organization
Plan properly and give yourself the best chance for success. There are no two ways about it; a school without a marketing plan will not succeed in building any substantial or sustainable enrollment. Use the tasks below to gather resources and information to organize your marketing process:
- Identify your school’s positive points of difference
- Analyze your competition
- Contact vendors for creating marketing products such as websites, brochures, social media campaigns, and mailers
- Ask for staff input and board approval on marketing ideas and products
- Develop a budget
- List your marketing goals and objectives for the next 6 months
Month 2: Production
The appearance and content of your marketing materials will either enhance or detract from your school’s image. Since parents cannot take your school home with them, it becomes essential to give them a tangible, professional representation of your program. The following products are great ways to communicate your school’s brand message to your families:
- Website: Begin anew, redesign an old, or at a minimum, update the content of your current site so that the information is fresh and relevant. Outside of parent referrals, your website is arguably your single most important marketing tool.
- Social media: Going hand-in-hand with your website, and as a channel for parent referrals, social media has become a crucial part of successful marketing plans. Identify social networks relevant to your parents (such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google), and create or update your school’s profiles.
- Direct Mail: Develop a postcard to promote the school, enrollment and open houses. Identify or gather a targeted mailing list and research bulk mail options to save money on postage.
- Brochure: A brochure is often the only literature that a parent will see from the school, so create a good impression! Include general information about the school, but leave the details out (i.e. tuition, teacher biographies, etc.). Detailed information will likely change frequently and render your brochure out-of-date.
- Online Advertising: Paid ads, such as on Google search engine or social media, can be a great way to get your school front-and-center where parents will see them online. Online ad campaigns offer lots of flexibility in terms of budget, placement, and desired action by the user, and can be used to drive traffic to your website, gain contact information as leads, and build your online community.
- Newspaper/Magazine Advertising: Placement can be very expensive so proceed with strategic caution. If your budget does not allow for the ad to be run in the newspaper at least twice weekly for 5-8 weeks, or in 6-10 consecutive issues of a magazine, then spend your money elsewhere. Frequency and consistency are crucial. Local and neighborhood publications work best since larger publications generally reach beyond your target market. Strike a balance between ad size and frequency and request consistent placement on the right side margin and top of the page. Avoid using the publication’s staff to design your ad as the level of quality is typically sub-standard. ALWAYS negotiate rates.
- Other Printed Materials: Develop or update as needed. Remember business cards, stationery, enrollment packets, parent handbooks, and more.
Month 3, 4 & 5: Distribution, Placement and Implementation
Now that you’ve laid out a plan and gathered, created, and updated your materials, you need to get them in front of prospective families. Depending on the type of material, there are a number of ways to accomplish this:
- Begin tracking your website visits, clicks, and form completions. Tools such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics allow you to track your website activity at a glance and see how you’re ranking in searches.
- Set up your online ad campaigns in search engines and social networks. Keep in mind your budget and audience targeting developed in the planning stage when setting up the ad campaign durations.
- Place all newspaper, magazine, and print ads. Make sure each of them utilizes a special phone number, free offer, or code that will allow you to track the effectiveness of each marketing vehicle and adjust in the future. For example, your offer could be “Mention this ad to save $50 on enrollment fees!”
- Open Houses: Contact prominent people in the community who are willing to spend 15 minutes speaking about the benefits of a Montessori education. Local elected officials, university professors, physicians, and business owners make for good choices. Prior to your open house, make sure to clean up the landscaping, have the rooms cleaned, order refreshments, wear nametags and have activities for the children. They’re all part of marketing. Be sure to create an event and promote your Open House ahead of time on your social media networks!
- Print Materials: Mail your direct mail postcard and distribute your brochures. Contact local businesses that may be willing to cross-promote products and services (e.g. they display your brochure, you display theirs). Consider the Chamber of Commerce, athletic clubs, pediatric waiting rooms, and children’s retail stores.
Month 5 & 6: Sales and Follow-up
Many administrators don’t like to use the word “sales” in a pure educational setting. However, like it or not, education is an industry and your school is a business that offers a service and competes for a limited number of customers. It’s time to follow-up with prospective parents, issue press releases, and attend community events to promote the school. Continue distribution, placement and implementation activities as long as the timing makes sense and your budget will allow. Even a fully enrolled school should continue to marketing activities.
We hope that this article starts you off in the right direction in beginning your marketing activities. When you need assistance with your marketing projects, send a message and let us know where we can help!