The 80/20 Rule of Private School Marketing

One of the top 5 books that I’ve read about marketing is by a guy named Perry Marshall and is all about using the Pareto principle in marketing. 

The Pareto principle is the 80/20 rule and the book is appropriately called 80/20 sales and marketing. In it, Perry goes through all of these different cases in which this rule applies and how to use it to increase the efficacy of your marketing and advertising. 

The one bit that I want to focus on in today’s show is how 80/20 applies to the results your advertising is bringing in – specifically how only 20% of your marketing is bringing in 80% of your results. 

I’ve been talking about marketing your school for the shaky economic times that we’re in for about a year now. Here is a tool I created that will score how well prepared you are to keep the good times rolling when parents regain faith in the public school system again or their economic situation forces them to make hard decisions about education.

I think this 80/20 episode ties into that theme well because perhaps the best thing that you can do when times are tough, or iffy, is to focus on what is actually working.

See, when the getting is good schools can afford to experiment – and they should. This is when you have the opportunity to try new things that will give you the edge when the good times inevitably slow down. 

And when they slow down, you take what you learned, get lean and mean, and crush it. See, on your tax documents marketing is an expense, but I look at marketing as an investment. Investments are not expenses. 

Think about it, you’re spending money to get more students… which will bring you more money. Spending money to make money is not an expense it’s an investment. 

So, what do investors do when the economy is iffy? They look for safe havens for their money – safe bets – and pull their money from riskier assets. And, smart investors keep on investing during these times because they can get more for their money. 

The same strategy should be followed with your marketing. Focus on what is really bringing in most of your new students and helping with your retention rates and look for unique opportunities to acquire tools or other schools.  

So, the 80/20 rule applied in this situation says 20% of your marketing is bringing in 80% of your results. 

Your goal is to find what that 20% is. If you haven’t paid much attention to your analytics it may take some digging. 

What you’re really trying to find is answers to; 

  • how do most of your prospects come in the door?
  • how are most of them converted into new students? 
  • You’ll also want to look at your retention strategy and find out which avenue is having the biggest impact. 

From there you can start to ween off of the less effective platforms – Don’t pause them all at once – you want to be sure you don’t break anything in the funnel but slowly start to divest over the course of a month or two until you’re sure you’re safe. 

Keep in mind you’ll not only want to look at how much money you’re investing into each platform but how many resources in general – labor, time, emotional energy… things like these. 

Some marketing strategies simply might not be worth the heartache. 

Now, I want to caution you, longer-term marketing efforts usually are the first to go when it comes to trimming down. This may not be the best bet. Content-heavy strategies take years to pay off and require a serious commitment from the higher-ups and everyone involved. 

Don’t prematurely abandon a long-term strategy just because it’s a long-term strategy.

Let’s continue the conversation on LinkedIn. Until next time, I’ve been Nick and a I’ll see you next week! 

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