3 Big Marketing Moves For Small Schools (With Even Smaller Budgets!)

March 30, 2017 Emily Cretella

You don’t need to be a big school to make a big impact with your school’s marketing resources. In fact, small schools often have an advantage over the big guys -- such as the flexibility to shift your strategies as you go to better meet your goals.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your marketing results, without majorly increasing your marketing budget or responsibilities, we’re here for you. Here are three ways small schools can maximize their marketing in 2017:

#1: Shift your priorities.

Before you begin any new marketing initiatives, make sure that what you are currently doing is working hard enough for your school. Start by making a giant list of all of your marketing and communications projects -- brochures, emails, online and traditional advertisements, in-person events, press releases, everything.

Then ask yourself: what is the return on each? Are you getting actual, measureable results from your efforts -- or are there opportunities to shift either your time or your resources to a new initiative?

If you’re simply running that ad because you’ve always done it, or attending that event because you’ve always been there, you could be ignoring new opportunities. And when you have a small team or a small budget, you want to reallocate both time and money rather than add more tasks or line items to an already overextended department.

Did You Know? Just 61% of marketers believe their marketing strategy is effective.

#2: Spruce up your website content.

Know your website isn’t telling your best school story -- but think you don’t have the resources for a complete overhaul? Prepare for your future dream site by editing your current website content, page by page.

Website content is one of the most overlooked, yet critical, aspects of a new website launch -- and it’s also the factor that tends to delay most new website projects. Content always takes longer than expected, especially if your current site’s content is seriously out of date.

Not sure where to start? Start with the home page. Does it clearly state who you are? Does it describe your unique outcome for your specific audience? If not, it may be time to craft a new positioning statement. (And if your school story needs even more prep work, we’ve created a free Story Shape-up Worksheet to help you out.)

By working through your website content now, you will be saving both time and money on your website redo down the road.

Did You Know? A new communication toolset doesn’t have to be costly or time-intensive. Blackbaud's education management for Small Schools is easy to use, hosted, affordable, and available with monthly subscription pricing, based on your enrollment.

#3: Create a new communication funnel.

Don’t let the marketing terminology trip you up: a communication funnel is basically a series of messages that are written to help move recipients toward a specific action.

One of the easiest ways to create a low-cost communication funnel: email. Most email systems now make automating messages fairly easy -- which is great, since 64% of marketers report benefits from using marketing automation within the first six months.

Not sure how to create your first email series? Here’s a simple funnel:

  • Pick an audience. Think of an audience that you are consistently creating communications for -- perhaps new families who often ask the same questions, requiring constant individual emails or phone calls.

  • Write down their questions. Try to create a list of all of their most common questions, concerns, challenges, mistakes. Look through your current materials, and come up with answers for each.  

  • Group them into categories. Once you have a few key themes, create a series of 3-5 emails that gives your audience the answers or resources they need to overcome those challenges before they even know they have them.

  • Schedule your series. Set up your emails to automatically send at certain times of the year, or on certain dates within your enrollment period.

Start with one audience and one funnel. See how it goes, and then brainstorm other messages you can automate during the year. This will help you proactively help your audiences, and free up your time to focus on new initiatives.

Did You Know? Blackbaud's education management for Small Schools is designed to help you streamline processes and simplify the scheduling process with automated tools.

If your team is small and your budget is smaller, these three initiatives will help you consolidate your 2017 communications while strengthening your school story.


Want more ideas for effective, easy-to-implement school marketing strategies? Learn how to create and share stories your audiences will love on the Cursive Content Marketing blog, or tweet us at @emilycretella / @blackbaudK12.

About the Author

Emily Cretella

Emily Cretella is a marketing strategist and copywriter who helps her clients create and share stories that make audiences take action. As owner of Cursive Content Marketing, Emily provides consulting, copywriting services and workshops to independent schools and higher education. Read her stories at cursivecontent.com.

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