This is a series that I started last week and we’ll probably be in for a few more posts. In it I aim to teach you the handful of marketing things that will actually make a difference in your school. Today, we’re talking about marketing for considered purchases.
I’m sure you’re aware that private schools have two audiences. The first is people who would never consider public school as an option and thus, are already one step closer to choosing a private school for their kids’ education. The other is those who are also considering public school as an option. That audience needs more convincing than the former, for obvious reasons. Still, private education is a considered purchase for both of these groups of people albeit one more than the other.
Now, the number one thing to remember with considered purchases is that they take TIME. Tuition is not an impulse buy for most people. So, we need to make sure that your school is at the top of their consideration list when that prospective family is ready to make a decision. If you can do that then you’ve pretty much done all that you can do to win them as a new family.
Step One: Being Found
So, how do you make sure that you are at the top of that consideration list? Good question. First, you need to be found to even wind up on that consideration list in the first place. This is where all of your traditional marketing comes into play. SEO, search advertising, social media, blog posts, word of mouth, print marketing, school ambassadors, and events, all of these things will allow your school to make a first impression.
Step Two: Email Marketing
Once you’ve got that attention the name of the game is to keep it for as long as possible until they either enroll in your school or blacklist you from all of their platforms. There are two main marketing channels to use during this phase of the relationship. Email marketing and retargeting advertising. Let’s break down both of these in more depth.
I’ve done a couple of posts on email marketing
- one talking about how to write emails that your readers will actually want to read
- and one about using email to increase student retention.
I think reading those will help paint an even bigger picture of the power of email when it’s done correctly.
Email marketing is a major player in this stage of the funnel because it allows you to keep delivering valuable and entertaining content to your prospects depending on where they are in their decision-making process. I mean, you can’t really call them up every week just to give them another reason to choose you over the next school right? And you surely can’t go to their house. Sending them direct mail would be useful, but people are usually pretty protective of their home addresses, so email is the only real option here. The problem is schools use it incorrectly all the time.
The two biggest mistakes I see with email marketing are;
- Hard selling too early on
- Delivering generic and useless content
Now the right way to do it is to essentially do the opposite. Firstly, you need to nurture your audience with a great content experience and only hard sell once they’ve reached a threshold rather than ask them to come in for a tour or open house as soon as they download your white paper about “how to pick the right private school”
See, the intent is everything. Someone who is looking for how to choose a private school is closer to making a decision than someone who is looking for information about choosing private over public. Still, both of those people are further away from purchasing than someone who is looking for more information about your specific school.
All three of these people need to be treated differently. They are all in different stages of their buying process and therefore need different information. Those higher up the funnel will need more education about what your school has to offer, why you’re different, why you are the right choice for them, etc.
Those closer to deciding will need less education and more proof that you are the best choice for them.
Email can deliver all of that. In fact, as we established earlier, it’s pretty much the only platform that can deliver all of that. By consistently delivering relevant information to your prospects via email you can ensure that your school is at the top of their consideration list when they are ready to make a choice for private education.
Step Three: Remarketing Advertising
The second tool in the toolbox, remarketing or retargeting.
I’ve got a post dedicated to remarketing that I’d recommend checking out after you’re done here as well.
Remarketing is great because it allows you to get in front of people who have had some sort of interaction with you but may not have given you their email addresss yet. Basically, with a little bit of code installed on your school’s website, you get the ability to show ads to your viewers as they use the internet.
Tthe right way to do this is to follow the same strategy that we use for email marketing. Mainly, take your time. Nurture your audience with great content until they reach a certain threshold. Once they reach that threshold you can start to pitch them on coming in for a tour.
Practically, what this looks like is having about 15 – 20 pieces of valuable or helpful content that you can use for your remarketing ads. It’s a little bit of a shift from what you would naturally consider “advertising” because the “ads” are not really ads at all.
And that’s the magic. You’re paying to get your content in front of your audience so you can continue to prove again and again that you are the best school for them to choose.
Eventually, a subset of your audience, those who are highly engaged – have been to the site multiple times, downloaded lead generators, engaged with a lot of your content – will start to see more “salsey” ads. But, if a member of your audience does not reach that threshold they will continue to see your valuable and helpful content. That is how you stay top of mind throughout the entire buying process.
These two tools will help your school get in front of more prospects and keep their attention until they are ready to choose a school. They will also work on autopilot to convince your prospects that you are the right school for them. In my opinion, this is one of the best ways to market for considered purchase businesses, IE, schools.
Let me know what you think about this topic, send me a message on LinkedIn or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading, I’ve been Nick and I’ll see you next week!