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!