In this post, I’ve provided a template for an education marketing strategy that could be used by business schools and other education sector organisations to focus planning and drive daily education PR and marketing activity.
Introduce the strategy to the various stakeholders who are likely to read it. These could be managers, investors, representatives from your education marketing agency or education PR agency or anyone in your internal marketing department. Cover as much ground as necessary in this section, keeping in mind that many of the people who read the strategy will not have been informed why this document has been put together in the first place – so mention it.
In this section, straight after the introduction, you need to outline exactly what it is you’re selling. Is it MBA courses, executive education, bespoke training courses or online programmes? Highlight your USPs, and summarise your offering in a way that can be easily understood by any of the stakeholders who might be reading your strategy.
You can’t run an education marketing campaign if you haven’t first identified and assessed your market. I like to break market analysis into two sections: target market and competitive landscape:
Who are you targeting? What are the demographics of the target market? Look at age ranges, locations, social data, gender, earning potential, industry sectors, career levels. Be as specific as possible.
How does this target market use social media? How many are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+?
How many are there? Is there any research showing the size of the market? Look at the Office for National Statistics, or local industry bodies.
How can you segment the market? By age, industry, education level etc.?
What matters to the target market? Identify the criteria they would likely use to select your business school / education product. For example: Profile, Cost, Location, Rankings
Create a spreadsheet where you lay out:
Who else offers similar or competing services to yours to the target market?
What evidence can you gather about these organisations’ education marketing strategies? For example, how many social media fans / followers do they have? How many times have they been quoted in the national media (evidence of an education PR campaign)?
How do they rate, compared to you, on the key criteria of relevance to your target market? Create a value curve like the one shown, to identify where your genuine USPs lie.
You’ve now identified the source of your competitive advantage and you’re ready to proceed with your education marketing plan.
The objectives for your education marketing campaign should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
The overarching strategy should be summarised in this section. This will require an internal brainstorm to decide whether your strategy should be, for example, to get in front of the target market first with a PR campaign, followed by a social lead generation campaign to directly encourage enquiries from the target market.
Here you will list the specific tactics or actions that will be used to deliver the education marketing strategy. For example, social advertising campaigns, video production services you’ll be using, the B2B PR agency you’ll be working with, the email marketing campaigns that will be delivered etc. For each one, I would recommend that you outline the budget that will be allocated and the specific roll-out timescale (a Gantt chart could be really useful in this section).
How, specifically, will you be measuring the success of your education marketing strategy? How often will you be measuring? What metrics will you be using? And what are the critical points that will drive your decision-making? For example, at what point will you reconsider a tactic? When leads generated fall below a certain level? Or is it if leads generated fail to reach a target?
To make sure your education PR agency‘s education marketing strategy delivers, you need to keep it fluid. It should act as a guide to activity, but should be updated weekly or monthly as you see what’s working and what’s not – with as much involvement from stakeholders as possible.