Does your school marketing connect the dots for your prospects?
Individually, each of your marketing pieces makes sense: you had a need and you filled it. You have your brochure, your website, and even your Facebook or Twitter account. Check, check, check. But, have you considered how much more effective these may be when working as a part of a coordinated package?
When I was a kid, I loved connect-the-dots puzzles. I would concentrate on finding each dot, and drawing my line to the next. As an adult, I have discovered several more challenging puzzles in the form of the “Super Challenge” books of David Kalvitis. These move beyond the traditional dot-to-dot to include hundreds of dots, symbols, coordinates, and even the world’s first dot-to-dot with a patent-pending status! While the immediate goal of connect-the-dots is to proceed from one location to the next, the ultimate challenge is to reveal the larger picture.
Your marketing efforts should do the same. It is not enough to move from one project to the next. Each of your marketing elements should connect to every other aspect so that it reveals a larger picture of your school to your prospects.
Only when your marketing is strategically connected, can you reap the benefits of your hard work. Connecting each of the elements to work together rather than independently is the key. Here are nine ways to better connect your school’s marketing efforts. These are organized into two categories: strategic and tactical.
Many ways of connecting your marketing will be strategic in nature. Sitting down to plan out the connections is crucial.
1. Brand Consistency
By developing a consistent brand presentation, you will immediately begin connecting the various aspects of your marketing elements.
One of the best ways to assure that your marketing is connected is to be consistent. These key elements in your plan should be consistent:
- Voice in all copywriting (including tone, attitude, and style)
- Design elements (color usage, typography, design elements, and white space)
- Photography/Videography (emotion, photographic style, and subject)
- Presentation (counselor’s appearance, attitude, how they discuss the school, tours, etc.)
Keeping your marketing simple will assure successful conversions.
One of the most effective things you can do as a marketer for you school is to make it easy for your prospects to see the big picture.
- Present content and information in a clear and effective manner.
- In digital media, hone your copywriting, navigation, and hyperlinks with best practices.
- When suggesting a call to action, make it easy and simple to respond.
3. Logical Organization
Keep your marketing connected through logical next steps.
In addition to a simple process, the connections of your marketing should be logical. There should be order and organization to the whole. Brochures, websites, reports should be well-organized with logical ways to navigate through the content. Next steps should be outlined and prospects should understand what will be expected when you ask something from them (e.g. “This application should take 45 minutes to complete” or an infographic that describes the “5 Steps to Becoming a Student”)
“People don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons.” Zig Ziglar
And, on the heels of our discussion on keeping your marketing connected by using logical organization, we present the opposite: emotion. The Ziglar quote is so true when it comes to school marketing: real emotion works.
It is the reason that all schools know that the campus visits works: prospective students and parents can emotionally connect themselves to the institution. They begin to build relationships. They experience an emotional connection to the school. Be sure to connect emotion to your marketing efforts through representative photography, video, and design elements.
Consider how you can use emotion through other aspects of your school marketing as well (such as the tour, meetings with key faculty/staff, or follow-up calls with other students, alumni, or influencers).
Taking your plan into action will be key to the success of connecting your marketing efforts.
Guide your prospect to the next logical step in your conversion funnel.
Every page on your website, every email communication, every brochure you hand out has to have a connection to the next step you would like the prospect to complete. You can’t expect someone to go from 0 to 60 without acceleration. Your marketing need to provide them simple, easy-to-accomplish tasks that will take them one step closer to your ultimate end goal–which should be bigger than you think.
One line does not a connect-the-dots picture make. Nor will your marketing efforts provide the desired results with only one tactical execution.
Your marketing plan needs to contain multiple types of elements. Typically, everyone considers the website, brochure, and maybe business cards. But there are so many other options to consider:
- Email marketing (the most effective marketing conversion marketing available)
- Printed materials, including data sheets, brochures, folders, dimensional mailers, direct mail, etc.
- Social Media
- Event Marketing & Premiums
- Advertising (both traditional and digital pay-per-click)
7. Gated Content
Provide your prospects with an “ethical bribe” to build your email lists.
Prospects engage with your school marketing to answer their own question: do you provide what they need (even if they might not realize that they need it)? Your marketing call-to-action should provide them a way to engage and “dip their toe” into your pool without a full commitment.
Gated content and other incentives are an excellent way to provide that sample. Many include marketing campaigns that are leveraging unique landing pages that have one call-to-action: fill out a form and download additional content. These forms only ask for the minimal amount of data needed (typically a name, email, and phone number) so that other connected marketing programs can begin to nurture the prospect.
These programs often will develop cold leads in to warmer leads that will then be handled by the sales team to nurture through conversion.
8. Marketing Automation
Connect the dots while you focus on other tasks.
As outlined with gated content, some leads are too cold to assign to the admissions department. Marketing automation provides the ability to nurture these colder leads who have provided minimal contact information, into the next phase of the conversion funnel.
This automation can provide a greater number of touch points for colder leads while nurturing the prospects to a point where a human connection is the next logical step. Connection points for marketing automation include:
- Social Media
- Print-on-Demand/Data Variable Direct Mail
- PURLs (personal URLs) microsites
9. Tracking Data
Measure everything to know what is working.
With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to provide metrics for all of your marketing efforts. By connecting tracking data to all aspects, you can better understand what is working and what needs additional tweaks for improvement.
Tools such as Google Analytics are free tools that will not only track your website, but provide tools to track the links to your website from QR codes, printed materials, email, social media, advertising, etc.
With the ability to do so many forms of marketing today as individual projects, marketers run the risk of not presenting the bigger picture of their organization. By connecting the various individual elements to a greater whole, a better understanding of your brand and offerings can be achieved.
About the author: Bart Caylor
Bart Caylor is President and founder of Caylor Solutions. With a background in design and development with corporate, education, and non-profit clients, Caylor now focuses his expertise on marketing for education. Bart is often asked to speak at universities and conferences on topics related to web design, emerging media and interactive marketing.