Category Archives: Branding

How To Explain Why Your School Does Content Marketing

The concept of content marketing for schools has been around for years and according to research studies, since 2007 the strategy of doing so has gained immense popularity.

Interestingly, when I talk to marketing managers all over the country about content marketing for their schools, I find that either they’re just getting started or worse yet, they’re not even doing any sort of content marketing. Not on their websites. Not on their blogs. Not even offline in print. Many have even shared their frustrations about trying to explain the concept and huge benefits of content marketing to their higher-ups, usually citing that as one of the main reasons they’re haven’t yet started content marketing for their school (or why their school is doing so little in terms of content marketing).

All that said, if the above sounds remotely like your situation, this post is for you. Whether you’re new to the strategy, an old pro, or just need help explaining how content marketing can drastically boost your school’s reputation as the authority and increase enrollments, you’re sure to get a lot from this article so keep reading.

Content marketing for schools (explained so a 5-year-old could understand)

In my field, I meet lots of intelligent people… and intelligent people have a way of talking about things that make then even more complex than they are. For that reason I’ve gotten into the habit of telling people to “explain it like I’m 5”. You’d be surprised how great people are at communicating when they strip away all those posture words that do little more than make us appear smart – which rarely works and when it does its at the expense of being understood. Anyway, I’ll attempt here to explain content marketing in the same fashion by using a case study (actually a conversation that happened with someone who didn’t think content marketing was a good idea for their special needs school).

I know someone who has a child with special needs. When the child was younger, it was especially difficult for this person and their spouse. Many times, each felt neither their marriage nor their family could handle the weight of having a child with special needs. Over time things didn’t necessarily get better but they learned how to better deal with situations and even each other. Years later, their lives are a complete 180 from what they were just a short time ago. They credit much of this change to a little old website they found one day when they’ve absolutely had it with what life had given them and were about to call it quits… on everything.

They did a Google search on a particular issue they were trying to deal with. I either don’t remember at the moment or maybe they just didn’t tell me what it was – but that’s not important. What’s important is that they had a big and meaningful issue challenging them and they needed help. They searched for it. Quite literally. On Google. What they found was a blog post from a special needs school way across the country. They read one post. Then another. Then another. Soon they were sharing posts with each other and learned things about themselves and their situation. Over time they learned to see and do things differently and that it was okay to ask for help and even talk about their challenges. They got all this from a school blog that was freely sharing lifestyle tips for parents of special needs children (i.e., their target audience).

I don’t know if this school fully understood the great service they were providing, or how many lives they were affecting, but they were doing Content Marketing. In fact, they were a shining example of what content marketing is. The special needs school’s blog was:

  • Made specially for their audience.
  • Helpful, useful, and valuable.
  • Available to anyone who needed it (think public service).

In doing so, they came across as the leader in their field and made parents want to enroll their special needs children in their school.

Now wouldn’t you want to be that school with the website, or the blog, that reached out to parents in a way that says, “We feel your pain. We know your challenges and we have the answers.” That’s content marketing.

Content marketing for schools (explained so your marketing team doesn’t mess it up)

By now you know content marketing isn’t about blatantly promoting your school. It’s not about your school’s brand, or it’s products, or it’s services. It’s 1000% about the audience and what they care about and when you do this right, you become unlike all the other schools that you once thought of as competitors. By being an authoritative and credible resource on things that matter to your audience, your school is more likely to get discovered by the right people and to earn loyalty and trust which then leads to customer relationships and ultimately more enrollments and profitability.

Content marketing isn’t for all schools

While I like to believe that isn’t the case, sadly it is. Not every school is a great school. Not every school truly understands their audience (many schools don’t even know who their audience is). For these schools, content marketing will only magnify how out of touch they are.

If you find yourself in this situation, my best advice is to reevaluate what your school is doing and see where, as an organization, you’re truly helping others. Talk to your students. Find out what’s going on and what keeps them up at night. It’s eye-opening and can turn your school into everything it should be.

If you’d like more help with your school’s content marketing, give me a shout. I love helping great schools shine!

Confessions of an analog man in a digital world

I turned 56 last week. I’ve written for Digiday (the leading source for all things digital and tech in advertising, marketing and publishing) for a year and a half. This is my 100 percent truthful confessional: I don’t know if digital advertising is more or less of a scam than traditional advertising, and I know next to nothing about ad tech. Also, I don’t Snapchat or Instagram.

—Confessions of an analog man in a digital world

7 Experiential Marketing Campaigns That Worked

Work events are really hit or miss. Let’s be honest: How many times have you found yourself anxiously fidgeting with a paper napkin in the corner of a stuffy networking happy hour?

That’s why I was not only relieved, but also surprised and delighted, when I attended a holiday party that featured a live, interactive version of an arcade game. An entire room had been curated to look like a video game setting, and people were dressed up as characters from it. There was a giant, real-life scoreboard, boppy electronic music, and best of all, there was no tedious small talk.

It wasn’t just another tired work event … it was an experience. And in our line of work, that sort of thing has a name: Experiential marketing.

While a surprising number of people haven’t heard of the concept, it’s kind of a big deal — there’s an entire three-day summit dedicated to it, and 65% of brands that use it say that it positively correlates with sales.

But what is it, exactly? And how has it been used effectively? We found seven of the coolest experiential marketing campaigns that really break down how it works, and how those lessons can be applied to marketers everywhere.

Keep reading…

A Dollar More VS A Dollar Less

Consider a race to the top.

How can Lyft possibly compete with Uber? Scale is often the secret to a commodity business, and if Lyft races to be ever cheaper than Uber, the only possible outcome doesn’t look good. It’s a cutthroat corner-cutting race.

But what happens if Lyft (or your project) decides to race to the top instead?

What if they say, “we’re always a dollar more than Uber”?

And then they spend that dollar, all of it, on the drivers…

What kind of person buys the cheap ride, the ride with the stressed-out angry drivers?

So instead of drivers abandoning fares they accept (they’re under so much pressure to make ends meet, Uber drivers do this all the time–it happened to me four times in one weekend), you end up with drivers that were good enough to be able to charge an extra dollar…

Keep reading…

Chinese Moms Are the World’s Most Important Consumers

Chinese Moms Are the World's Most Important Consumers

The big China consumer stories of the past year have included a vaccine scandal, food contamination scares, surging overseas home buying, and continued rising consumption by urban families.

These stories, in reality, are mostly about Chinese women as an ascending consumer class. More specifically, they are about Chinese moms, who are quickly becoming the most important consumers on the planet.

My argument for this is five points:

    Point #1: Chinese mothers are the major driving force behind increasing Chinese household consumption.

    There are an estimated 320M moms in China, making them roughly the same size as the entire US population. And they are the trifecta of Chinese consumer spending.

    First, Chinese mothers have their own personal spending power and typically contribute 50% of the family income.

    Second, they direct household spending. In a 2010 MasterCard report, 75% of Chinese women said they control the family spending. This can be the wife approving expenditures above a certain level. And in some cases, Chinese wives control the bank accounts and then give the husband cash to use. The standard joke is the husband buys the home but the wife runs and furnishes it.

    Third, Chinese mothers often control the spending related to the retired parents. This is particularly true for the larger expenditures such as housing and medical costs.

    So in many families, Chinese moms are effectively directing the spending across three generations.

    Point #2: Chinese mothers are deeply focused on the health and safety of their one child.

    Family spending control by mothers is not unusual globally. But in China it is amplified by the one-child policy, the prevalence of “little emperors” and the greater health and safety concerns of living in China. We see Chinese moms being far more concerned with the health and safety of their one child – from the water they drink, to their food, to their education, and to their general safety.

    One interesting result of this is the different advertising for women seen in China today. In the West, we see often ads for women speaking to independence or fun. However, in China we see a focus on happy and healthy families. For example, in 2013, McDonalds China launched a “Moms’ Trust” campaign which not only highlighted healthy children but also focused on long-lasting relationships. This is a contrast to fast food commercials in the U.S. which typically express fun and good food. China’s fast food commercials tend to emphasize long-lasting relationships and strong family values.

    On the Chinese McDonald’s website, you can even find sections such as “Mom’s standards, our standards” and “We care for how healthy our chicks grow”.

    Point #3: Chinese mothers are rising as consumers in their own right.

    Chinese mothers (and women generally) are important consumers in their own right. As mentioned, they typically contribute 50% the family income. And by most measures, they are more financially ambitious than women in virtually any other country. Go into any office building in Shanghai and you will see a sea of cubicles filled with white-collar Chinese women, most of whom also have a child at home. For example, the photo at the top of this article is of Ms. Xin (and her super-cute daughter) who works in the administration of Peking University (thanks for pics :).

    However, the personal wealth of Chinese women is increasing due to advancing careers and the delaying of marriage and children. For example, the number of high school students in China going to college is expected to reach about 40% by 2020 (up from 10% in 2010). But going to college (and then getting a good job) usually means delaying marriage, family and other commitments. In the past ten years, the average age at which women have children in China has increased from 24 to 27. And it will soon be closer to 30, which is similar to most developed countries.

    One consequence of this delaying of life events is greater wealth. By the time women do marry and have children in China, they have more money and higher incomes. So Chinese moms are going to have more money to spend even before they become the primary financial decision-makers of the household.

Keep reading…