So, there’s this gal I know – let’s call her Marketing Melody – and she’s in a bit of a funk. She’s been in marketing for decades now, a career path she took up shortly after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She’d wanted to be a journalist, but those early years of investigating, analyzing, and creating in her first job as a marketing assistant inspired her to go on to earn a master’s in mass communications. Now she’s the marketing director at a small private college with an excellent reputation for student success. She loves her job.
Still, things have gotten harder for her over the last five years or so. Retention at her school is high, but she’s having a hard time driving enrollment. The old techniques aren’t working. As a mater of fact, the recent meet-and-greet picnic that’s always been a huge hit in the early summer hit record low attendance this year, despite sending out hundreds of promotional postcards and emails.
The picnic was only the latest in a years long trend downward, and Melody knows the board is beginning to notice. Though no one has said anything, Melody is aware of the tension around her office. She knows that if she doesn’t start producing better number soon, she could lose her job.
Fortunately, Melody is willing to
try something new. She knows she has to come up with a new strategy, and be able to prove that her new strategy is working at each stage of the recruiting funnel. And if she does, she’ll not only save her job, she’ll save her school.
Sound familiar? If you’re in Melody’s predicament, take heart! The strategy you need to succeed as a marketer in the digital age and save your school and your job already exists. It’s called inbound marketing, and it works like this.
Set Goals. The beginning of any successful marketing campaign is goal setting. Your goals not only guide your activities, they set the bar by which you measure success. Without thoughtful goals, how will you know if your campaign is working?
Be sure your marketing campaign goals are SMART. When your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound you have a realistic concept of where you are, where you need to be, and how to get there.
Not sure your SMART goals are working? Read this article on creating campaigns that align with your goals.
Define Your Audience. Once you know exactly what you want to achieve with this campaign, you may be tempted to go straight into messaging. Don't! Before you start crafting your message, you must learn all you can about your ideal audience.
The most effective tool for crafting a personalized message for ideal prospects isa well developed persona profile. Known as buyer personas in other industries, the persona profile is a holistic, semi-fictional representation of your ideal candidate. Your persona profiles give you insight into the lives and minds of your audience that allow you to engage viewers through peronalized messaging.
New to persona profiles? Click here to learn more.
Form Relationships With Influencers In Your Audience. Influencer marketing is on the rise, and as a school you're sitting on a gold mine! Every person on your campus could become an influencer.
Celebrities have less influence over younger generations, who detest inauthenticity as a crime. However, younger generations have profound trust in reviews from within their own camps. Peer influencers gain noteriety by demonstrating their use of a product or service, thereby empowering others to try it out as well.
So, before you start crafting that message, reach out to influencers within your target audience. Get their feedback, form alliances, and plan to tap into their circles of celebrity.
Create Content. Ok, you've developed SMART goals, you've created detailed persona profiles, and you've intereviewed influencers within your target audience.
Congratulations! You have developed your perspective. You are now ready to start crafting a message that will appeal to your ideal propspect. The key here is knowing what types of content your target audience is most likely to consume. Start out blogging, as blogging offers tremendous benefits to both you and your readers. But don't stop there. Repurpose and reform your blog post through visual and even audio mediums to reach ideal candiates across platforms.
Don't lose sight of the purpose of your content messaging. You're reaching out to entertain, educate, and nurture your audience. Start promoting yourself too early and your efforts will be wasted.
Promote Content. You know everything about your target audience, and you've created something to help make their decision journey easier. Now, go to them.
The key to effective content promotion is knowing where your audience goes for information online. Are they believers in email providence? Are they search engine gurus? Or do they throw their questions into the crowd and hope for a relevant response on platforms like Quora?
Wherever they are, you must go to them. And if your ideal persona hangs out some place on the web you can't permeate, send your message with your influencers.
Collect Data. Data is vital. Now that you've gotten your message into the right hands, you must know how it's being received. What's the click-through rate on your email calls to action? Social media? Are those who find your site filling out the forms you want them to? At what rate?
The success of your marketing campaign is not how much you get done, it's how well your audience responds. Collect as much data as possible. Coallate it, visualize it, and share it.
Adapt. You're keeping your finger on the pulse of your campaign by keeping close watch on the data. Great!
Now take that data and use it to reshape your current campaign, or to form a new one. Use your data to figure out your ROI (return on investment) and determine the most effective combinations of messaging, medium, and promotion.
Now that prospective students and their families have so much control over how they are exposed to promotional materials, the marketing world must learn to accommodate rather than disrupt. We're developing modern marketing strategies focused on attracting audiences by offering value for their time, and it's working!
We call this new marketing strategy inbound marketing. There's a little bit of a learning curve but hey, you're used to that.
Is inbound what's missing in your marketing strategy? Download our free ebook to learn how to start using inbound marketing to attract, convert, enroll, and engage more students now.