Is your district finding it harder to engage your audiences with traditional marketing? Is your old-fashioned newspaper ad not reaching the audience you want?
Due to smartphones, the internet, and social media, there has been a gigantic shift in the way we need to market to attract the right audience.
This article will discuss how the new marketing shift has changed how schools and school districts need to market to their audiences. The changing landscape of school marketing is changing the way we communicate.
Back in the day [the 1940s to 1990s], when neighborhood schools were thriving, if a campus was built, children jumped out of bed each day and attended that school. Parents were happy to support their community, public school. While some students attended private schools, those schools were mainly for the wealthy.
The Modern Neighborhood
Fast forward 30 years later, and the education system in the United States has changed dramatically. Neighborhood schools are beginning to lose traction to the numerous choices families have for their children’s learning.
The neighborhood is getting a tad bit crowded, from public schools to charter schools to private schools to online institutions popping up around major cities across America.
The Long Tail of School Choice
Even though 85% of children in the United States still attend public schools, the 15% of families who choose to attend elsewhere are growing and eating away at enrollment at many school districts. My school district in a Dallas suburb is no exception. The “Long Tail” choices are all competing to steal more pieces of the enrollment pie.
Just like the great poet Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they are a-changing.” How is your school district combating competition in your area? Are you still using traditional marketing tactics to promote your school district? That might not be the right choice in this age of digital marketing and social media.
The Great 21st-Century Marketing Shift
Not only has the educational landscape changed, but there has also been a dramatic marketing shift in every industry across the globe. The internet has impacted the way people communicate and gather information when making decisions about products and services for their families. The customer is now in control. They are gathering information about your school district and your competitors every step of the way.
COVID-19 has only amplified the digital shift. More and more people are making decisions digitally. If we were not a digital society before, we are definitely one now.
The End of Traditional Advertising
Think of common practices used in the past when marketing your school district…
Newspaper ads are dying a quick death. Who has the time to read a newspaper from the front page to the last page? Most people jump on the internet and read the stories they want to read. Even the over 65 years of age demo are using iPads to search for their news.
Close your eyes and try to remember the last billboard you saw. Now try to recite the web address or phone number associated with the sign. Could you do it? Probably not…
Billboards are now tombstones on the side of our highways. Once a must-have marketing tool for companies back during the golden age of automobiles, have shown their age when most people stare at their phones than the road itself.
Radio Ads are no longer heard in the age of podcasts and Spotify. When a commercial comes on the radio, I change the channel. Even if I happen to leave it on the station, I have no clue what is said when the radio advertisement is read.
Even Tuesday, Backpack flyers are drowning at the bottom of our children’s backpacks. I usually find my kid’s letter three weeks later, after it is too late. It is usually crumpled, ripped, and looked like it was involved in a Wrestlemania cage match.
The Death of the Marketing Funnel
We must adapt to compete with the digital marketing world. School districts must adapt to the changing Marketing Funnel.
The traditional funnel where customers start at the top of the funnel and walk through a defined path until they choose your school district is no longer a reality. School districts must realize we are in the age of the Marketing Flywheel.
Introducing the Marketing Flywheel
The Marketing Flywheel is built around the customer. They fuel the wheel and jump into your flywheel at any moment and during any stage of the process. Information is everywhere. They do not need you or your marketing to make decisions for them. THey are in control, and they are your marketing through Word of Mouth with family and friends.
The Marketing Flywheel represents the Age of the Consumer. As school districts and other industries, we are not in control of the majority of our marketing. The consumer is now in control. The customer has the power.
When purchasing my last car, I did 90% of my research looking at independent websites and YouTube videos to learn about cars I might purchase. Until I narrowed down the brand and found what I should pay for the car, I finally visited the car dealership.
Parents and students are doing the same thing when researching school districts. How can we create content that draws them to our website, social media and other content first?
The Impact on Your Brand
Your brand is based on experiences fueled by word of mouth of your customers. Due to the digital shift, customers now have a megaphone and can shout to the world your shortcomings and positive experiences they have encountered with your brand.
This means every interaction, every social media post and every person in your community talking about your schools impacts your brand. Your audience can tarnish your brand and negate every marketing campaign you have done with a few words on Facebook.
The customer is in control. How are you monitoring your brand? How are you creating awesome experiences for your customers?
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Marketing has changed in the last 30 years. School districts can’t rely on the same tactics they have used in the past. The digital revolution is upon us. How is your district adapting?
Do you have any questions or would like me to speak at your next event? Visit my Book Jason page to contact me. I also consult for districts across the country.