There are three defining aspects of an ethical marketing campaign that separate it from typical marketing.
Purposeful marketing is marketing that offers helpful, relevant content to a specific audience. When you create content - web pages, blog posts, social media posts, etc. - with the intent of helping prospective parents understand their children and parent better, you develop trust.
Ethical marketing is conversational. When your goal is to engage your prospective parents in a two-way conversation, your focus moves from your needs to your prospective parent's needs. When you do that, your subject matter transcends your school's offerings and settles on supporting your audience. This is how relationships are built.
Powerful marketing, or rather, powerful content, leaves your audience wanting more. When your marketing is purposeful and engaging, it becomes powerful. Which is to say, it identifies a parent's pain point, offers an explanation, and offers the parent a short-term solution as well as detailed steps to find a long-term the solution. In other words, powerful content offers the prospective parent change.
When you put the three together, you not only create content that stands out in a sea of marketing gimmicks, you create the trust and develop the relationships that grow into happily enrolled new students.
Now let's look at how it's done.
People know when they're being marketed to, and they don't like it. That's not the way to start a relationship with the parent of a prospective new student. That's why ethical marketing is not just the right thing to do, it's the most effective thing to do.
Effective marketing doesn't just happen. It's the product of expert execution of the effective marketing equation, which states that the right content delivered to the right person at the right time results in a new student.
Remember, the three defining aspects of an ethical marketing campaign are
In order for your marketing content to be purposeful, it must be directed to a precise audience. The more precise your audience, the more purposeful, and therefore the more meaningful, your content will be. In order to create content this kind of marketing content, you need to know exactly who your audience is.
In order for your marketing strategy to be relevant, the first thing you need to do is outline who you’re talking to. Not everyone is going to be right for your program. You want to spend your time and energy speaking directly to the type of family that is right for your school. So take time now to figure out who that is. Mother or father? Grandparent? Married, single, divorced? How many children? What’s their household income? All of these things are important.
This is your audience.
Once you’ve developed your parent personas and you know exactly what is troubling your ideal parent, think about the conversations you might have with that parent. What questions might they have about raising a child, about education, about ensuring the best possible future for their babies? You know the answers to those questions.
The answers to those question is the right content.
Now, think about the circumstances that would drive your parent to go looking for the content you’ve identified. Is the child transitioning from one grade to another? Not fitting in at school? Too talented for their classroom? The perfect family for your school has a need, and when they realize they have a need, you will be there with a solution to their problem.
That’s the right time.
Before you set out to start a marketing campaign, be sure to gather this information and create what we call a “Parent Profile.” If you’re truly committed to ethical marketing, to building relationships, then your Parent Profiles will be the foundation of your marketing efforts.
Once everything is in place, you'll use the Inbound Methodology to attract, convert, and enroll well-fit students to your programs.
There are three phases to the Inbound Methodology:
Each phase has a corresponding set of tools, goals, and purpose. We'll look at each individually, then put it all together with a case study.
The first phase, or goal, of the Inbound Methodology is to attract prospective parents with purposeful, engaging, powerful content you've created just for them.
Your attract toolkit includes your website, which serves as the hub of all your other efforts; SEO (search engine optimization), which affects how search engines rank and return your website when a parent searches relevant keywords; social media accounts, which is where you’ll give short answers to prospective parents’ questions; your blog, which is where you go into detail to answer parents’ important questions; and ads. If you shudder to think of using “ads” in your ethical marketing campaign, don’t.
There’s a lot to navigate as a parent with a pressing question about your child’s wellbeing. By creating purposeful ads with the intention of helping parents find the answers they need, you save them time and energy on their search.
Like everything else you do, your ads should focus on meeting prospective familys’ needs. As an extension of the rest of your ethical marketing plan, ads simply reach out to parents feeling the sting of a pain point you’ve identified to let them know you have a solution.
Once a prospective parent trusts you to answer their question and finds their way to your website, you want to ensure you have the opportunity to continue your conversation. By offering something of value, you can convince a visitor to trade their contact information for a helpful tool. This is the convert phase of your marketing strategy.
The conversion tool box includes three important tools: your landing page, or a page offering something of value, particularly the fix to a parent’s problem; your CTA (or call to action) which explicitly states how the parent can access the great tool you’ve provided; and forms, which is how you gather the visitor’s contact information.
The amount of information a prospective parent is likely to share with you depends on the perceived value of the offer behind the form. The more information you want, the more valuable the offer must be. Typically “enroll now” or “schedule” are not considered valuable at this point. Instead, it should be something that the parent can take home and implement on their own.
This begins the “trial” period of your relationship.
Because you created a great tool for your prospective parent, and you were able to gather their contact information, you have everything you need to continue the conversation – or nurture – your new lead.
At this stage, you’ll use your contact data to create helpful content, which you’ll deliver via email. Consistency builds trust; you’ll ensure consistency through automation. By “automation” I don’t mean fake. I mean scheduled. And you’ll keep all of your information organized in a CRM, that’s “customer relationship management” software.
Excel is not a CRM.
Hubspot has a totally free forever CRM platform that I can’t suggest enough. You can use forms through their platform to capture and organize lead contact information automatically. It’s been rated number one over and over again. And that’s just the free service. The complete platform does, well, everything.
Now, as promised, let’s go through an example of how this works when you put everything together to give you a better idea of how it can work for you.
It wasn’t very long ago that we were approached by Gavin. Gavin is the admissions director at a private K-12 institution focused on child-led education at all stages of development. He was working with a skeleton crew of volunteers who simply didn't have the time or resources to create a solid marketing strategy for their school.
They just didn’t know how to change the fact that they were facing the lowest enrollment numbers they’d seen in over a decade.
By the time Gavin reached out to us things were getting dire. During our first conversation, as we explored his circumstances to try to discover what was keeping students out his classrooms, he kept telling us, “It’s not even so much about the revenue. I just can’t stand seeing all those empty seats.”
Before we got into using any of the ethical marketing tools, we took time to evaluate the school's current assets. We completed a content audit, gathering, evaluating and classifying all their content, where it existed, how it was used, etc. We determined that the biggest problem they faced was early on, in attracting new students. They had a Facebook page, but it was updated irregularly and usually with content only relevant to current students or alumni. They also had a blog, also updated infrequently and relevant to current students, not prospective parents.
There was a lot of room for improvement. We worked out a strategy, made some tough decisions, and committed to doing things right.
Once we were sure that attracting ideal families was our first goal, we settled in to learn as much about Gavin's best fit prospective parent as possible. We leveraged the Hubspot buyer persona generator tool to overtly understand their ideal parent. We learned about their problems, where they go to find solutions when they have problems, and how to reach them. Then, we went through and optimized the school website to ensure it was Google’s go-to for specific key words.
With the foundations in place we worked with Gavin to create a language for their school that focused on how families understand their needs, not just the school’s program, and started making content that was relevant to parent’s particular pain points and experiences. When we got their attention, we educated them on the solution to their problems and scheduled a tour to determine if his school was the right fit.
Not everyone was ready to book a tour right away. So, once parents trusted the school enough to go to their website, we offered to continue the conversation through email. Because they trusted us to keep sending helpful, relevant content, they used our forms to sign up for the school's mailing list and joined them on social media.
Once a connection was established, we helped Gavin fulfill the promise of continued value. We were able to offer increasingly helpful content by tracking interactions with prospective new families using the Hubspot CRM.
“Working with What’s the Word has been remarkable. In one month we had a new outlook on ourselves and our students. In four months we hit our first goal. In twelve months we had to make another decision: start a waitlist or start looking for a larger facility. We couldn’t be happier with the results.”
We helped Gavin reach and even exceed his goals with an ethical, repeatable process focused on forming partnerships, building relationships, and helping parents be better parents.
It’s what we do. Because our focus is on great schools and the families they serve, we’re able to create ethical marketing strategies that grow enrollment, improve retention, and build life-long relationships.
That’s what we believe marketing should be.
Now that you know all the steps and tools you’ll need to create an ethical marketing campaign to boost enrollment at your school, I hope you’re ready to get out there and get started.
If you’re not quite ready, that’s ok. We are here to help. Click here to meet with a Digital Marketing Specialist.