Part 3d: Develop, Implement and Evaluate

School Marketing Matters Overview Page

Step 4: Develop, Implement and Evaluate

Once you have identified your target audiences and have matched school characteristics with the messages to reach each audience, it's time to decide what marketing tools - what mediums - will work to communicate your messages effectively.

Evaluate which mediums are best suited for your school community. Some tools work for all audiences, others are more specialized. A school brochure may seem like a good idea, but make sure you know exactly how you're going to use it (mass mailing? school fairs? presentations?), and that it's written for and distributed to the appropriate audience.

See the Quickstart page for the most important school marketing strategies that can be implemented with limited funds, time and resources.

Once your plan is developed, it can be launched as part of your SPSA, distributed to appropriate district and school officials and presented to your school community at staff and parent meetings to gather support. Most likely, you already have ways to implement your school marketing plan without much additional effort. By actively promoting your open houses, sporting events and student performances (and displaying information about your school at each event), you are already putting your school marketing plan in motion.

At some regular interval, perhaps at winter break and at the end of the school year, you and your team should make time to evaluate your school marketing plan - another often overlooked step in the process. How do you know each message has reached its target audience? What can you do mid-stream to strengthen communication? How successful were you in reaching each audience? Consider using SchoolMessenger for a quick phone survey. You can also create an online survey or make use of focus groups, interviews with key people, public hearings, principal coffee talks or discussions at organizational meetings, such as your PTA or other parent-teacher group. These are all same forums utilized during the "research" phase.

Additional Notes in Creating Your School Marketing Plan:
Parents often consider personal experiences of other parents, teacher credibility and school principal credibility as the most influential factors in selecting a school.
What does that suggest?

Word of Mouth is the single most effective marketing tool that you possess. Satisfied customers -- your current parents -- who speak positively about your school and its attributes, are your best school ambassadors.

How can you use this to the greatest advantage?

Begin a serious outreach effort to speak to your current parents. Get them to understand the reasons for a marketing approach, and encourage them to spread the word.

A lot of research has been done about what causes people to remember -- or forget --messages to which they are exposed. Repetition and reinforcement of our message is important. Simplicity is also essential.

The power of effective school marketing (in the face of negative publicity)

The amount of interaction your school, students and staff have with the community on a regular, consistent basis will have a great impact on how your school rebounds from negative publicity (the same holds true for the district as a whole). If your school interacts often and well with the community, establishing trust and credibility, then bad publicity can be more easily diffused. When the local community has built rapport with the school principal, staff and students, they are more likely to believe that a negative incident is unfortunate, but under control and being dealt with in a kind, caring and professional manner.

Regardless of your message, theme or slogan, no marketing effort can be effective without internal support. We must continually promote team-building techniques and increase staff satisfaction in order to offer the highest level of service.

In public relations, one-on-one communication, especially in a way that builds relationships with target audiences, is more powerful and convincing than communication in a group setting. However, communication in a group setting is more powerful than impersonal communication forms such as newsletters and other printed material. Publications have a place, but in no way should they be the only medium for communication with your school community. On the school marketing template, there is a "relationship" section - how can you keep the relationship going with each of your target audiences?

In conclusion, there's never been a better time to highlight San Diego Unified schools and programs among our local communities. It's time to strategically share the "good news stories" happening across the district and to promote your school as the right choice for students, families, staff and supporters.

See also:
School Marketing Toolkit
Related Resources