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Merger and Acquisition Strategies for Schools

This is a post that I think will be a total game changer for the 2% of school marketers that implement it.

merger and acquisition strategies for private schools

The other 98% of marketers will think yeah that sounds awesome. That sounds like it could really work. That sounds like it’s something that we should do, and that’s where it will die. 

I encourage you to not be in that 98%. If you are able to make this happen you will be positioning your school for major success a few years down the road. You’ll have an endless stream of leads coming in for free and such a gap on all of the other schools in your area that they will likely never be able to catch up. Let’s talk about how you do it. 

From the description above, you might think I’m talking about doing SEO, but I’m not.

In fact, I’m kind of talking about the opposite. What I’m proposing is to NOT grow your school’s influence organically.

I’m proposing that you buy your school’s audience. Not with advertising or sponsorships but literally purchasing access to an audience through acquisition.

I fully believe in the power of organic growth, SEO is one of my agency’s top offerings, so I know how vital it is for schools. But, as we know it takes a long time. 6 months on average to see real movement in the organic search positions. 

Forward-thinking schools are looking at content marketing to grow their influence.

Some are producing podcasts or publications and others are turning to channels like YouTube and Instagram to gain a following. 

Too often schools think SEO, content marketing, and advertising is the only way to grow their influence, but there is a fourth option.


Merger and Acquisition Strategies

Why Merger and Acquisition Should be on Your Mind

Now acquisition is nothing new. Traditional media companies meet every year and discuss how they’re going to grow in two ways, organically and through mergers and acquisitions. The problem is most young marketers today don’t have a traditional marketing background so the M&A option isn’t on the minds of a majority of companies and schools. If you’re not already aware, M&A is about purchasing a company. So let’s talk about how M&A can help your school.

merger and acquisition strategies for private schools

We all know how long it takes to build a following on any platform.

YouTube subscribers, newsletter subscribers, social media followers, and podcast listeners, it’s all hard to build your audience.

It takes a seemingly endless amount of effort and consistency to get to the point where these platforms are bringing you a stream of leads.

Research from The Tilt suggests that it takes 17 months to reach a viable audience size.

Acquisitions get you instant access to an audience that someone else spent years building. You can literally cut years out of the equation by acquiring a company, or a tool, that serves your audience. 

Examples of Acquisitions in the Education Industry

Gold Coast Schools & The Climer School of Real Estate

Gold Coast Schools, a leading Florida-based provider of traditional classroom and distance learning in the fields of real estate, appraisal, mortgage, insurance and construction education, today announced that the company has acquired The Climer School of Real Estate, a leading real estate school in Florida. 

By acquiring The Climer School of Real Estate, Gold Cost Schools is able to instantly bolster their enrollments for their real estate program. 

They also get access to any process, tools, programs, relationships, and systems that Climer has built over the years. 

In addition, they get their employees, which is important while we’re dealing with the current hiring crisis. 

Most obviously Gold Coast Schools instantly gets all of the work (since 1998) that Climer has done both physically and digitally to be one of the most recognized real estate schools in Florida. It would have taken Gold Coast Schools years to compete with Climer on Google alone and who knows if they would have been able to beat them. 

The search results for “real estate school Orlando” is pictured below. Essentially, Gold Coast Schools bought the second position for this competitive keyword by acquiring Climer schools.

merger and acquisition strategies for private schools

Learning Care Group

Learning Care Group knows all about M&A. In fact, they have a web page dedicated to acquiring schools. It states, “As one of the largest early education and child care organizations in the United States, LCG has 11 unique brands and 1,050+ schools operating in 39 states and Washington, D.C., with 20,000+ educators prepared to support 156,000+ children every day.”

Most importantly the page goes on to state

“School acquisitions have played a significant role in our company’s journey.”

It’s obvious that Learning Care Group heavily relies on acquisition to grow their business and their influence. It seems like it’s worked quite well for them. 

Growing Using Tools

But acquiring other schools might not be the path for you just yet. If you’re saying 

“Nick I just wanted to grow our school’s influence I didn’t want to purchase a school”, I get it. 

That’s why I’d like to pitch you this idea. Acquiring a tool.

Tools are one of the best ways to get traffic to your website. Why? Because they help people solve their problems and because they are highly shareable.

If you know about SEO then you know backlinks are a big chunk of the weight when Google is trying to figure out which sites to rank.

Tools get linked to, more so than most other pieces of content, so they are a great SEO strategy also.

Neil Patel, a leading SEO and marketing expert, is no stranger to purchasing tools to increase his influence.

In 2022 he acquired Answer the Public, a tool that helps marketers find fresh content ideas. This aligns directly with his audience (marketers) and instantly gives him access to over 300k monthly users that he can push to his other tools and services.

Instead of spending money to advertise to over 300 thousand people every month, he bought access to them and now can instantly influence this audience. 

You don’t have to leave all of the tools to the marketing and education service companies. You can take exactly what they’ve been doing to gather an audience for years and apply it to your school.

  • Maybe you make a local event finder tool
  • Maybe you make a tool that ranks neighborhoods by resident satisfaction
  • Maybe you make a tool that gives parents activities to do with their kids 
  • Maybe your tool that helps parents save time by planning their day, or their week, or their meals
  • Maybe you have a quiz that helps parents decide if private school is right for them. 

or, better yet, you purchase a tool that already has an audience that is similar to the one you serve. The options are endless.

Let's Recap

Imagine a year or two from now when hundreds of people per day are using your tool. It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Your website is getting all of that traffic and now thousands of people per month are discovering your school for the first time.

You can remarket to them, push them to download more of your content, and eventually convert them into customers.

Potentially hundreds of leads come to you for free every single month. That’s a marketing advantage that is hard for other schools to beat. 

Start by finding out what your target audience has in common, then, look for tools or companies that serve that commonality.

The very fact that this is “out of the box” means successfully doing it will put a huge gap between you and the rest of the schools in your area.

This can be a big deal if you start working on it today. 

What do you think about this strategy? Send me a message on Linkedin to Instagram to keep the conversation going.

Until next time,
I’ve been Nick. 

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