K-12 Education Marketing: Some Essentials
Here’s a small collection of what I consider “best practices” for K-12 education marketing, born from 20 years of working the K-12 beat.
Work the market both top down and bottom up.
Only courting the supervisor level since they’re the decision-makers, and not acknowledging the role of influencers is a commonly made mistake. In secondary ed markets, department chairs have significant influence. In elementary, target principals and consider lead teachers. If you use a sales force, they’ll sell top down. Make sure your direct contact strategy reinforces this, but use a bottom-up approach to augment their work.
Don’t act like the only game in town.
Because you’re not. Despite talk of reforms and the need for change, K-12 education is a big, blazing hot market. There are new competitors every week, and the small players can nibble away at a market and erode your opportunities even if you’re one of the big guys. Understand, emphasize, and embrace your unique offering, and make it an integral part of your message and your brand.
K-12 is no longer a big, slow-moving, antiquated system.
For many years, most districts have suffered the reputation of being a few decades behind progress. Deservedly so. And to be fair, to this day some districts operate as if they’re from the Mad Men era. But be careful of stereotyping. Some districts are advanced and highly technological while others are laggards. Increasing pressure and shifting policies are game changers, and marketers need to diligently monitor the goings-on. If you’re not anticipating the changes that are happening, then you’ll find yourself viewing your competitors’ tail-lights. That’s never a happy sight.
It’s not Rocket-Science.
It really isn’t. The basic approach to K-12 marketing isn’t necessarily easy. But once you firmly understand the essential principles specific to K-12 such as purchasing cycles, contact strategies, fund monitoring, and so forth, mostly it’s nuts-and-bolts marketing here. So grab your tools and get cracking.
You’ll find more complete K-12 marketing information in The K-12 Marketing Toolbook: 11 Essential Components and Direct Marketing to K-12 Education.