Key points:
  • Marketing is an ever changing field
  • It’s easy to fall into bad habits
  • Awareness of bad marketing habits will help you to overcome them

The only constant is change, and school marketing is no exception. When it comes to marketing, it’s easy to get stuck in some not-so-good habits (don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone!). Here’s some common marketing habits to watch out for and avoid. 

As all school marketers know, marketing is an ever changing field, with new methods and tools always around the corner. Because of this constant state of change, it’s crucial to adopt a proactive and energetic approach to marketing, which necessitates a continuous re-evaluation of your marketing habits. It’s all too easy to fall into bad habits, especially when those habits used to be effective. If you’re stuck in the old ways of doing things, a change of perspective can be a life saver, and boost your overall effectiveness. Look out for these bad marketing habits so you can correct them.

1. Failing to plan

We’ve all heard the expression ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’, and it’s no different for marketing. Planning is important for so many reasons, from figuring out your budget to setting your KPIs. A solid marketing plan will structure your workflow to create a manageable process from which you can track your progress and set actionable goals. If the members of your marketing team don’t have a clearly defined plan, they run the risk of working towards their own individually-defined goals, which isn’t good for team cohesion. A plan will help to align your team and get them working together, with each member knowing what is required of them. By knowing what’s required of you the guesswork is taken out, which helps with managing stress.

2. Stifling creative thinking

At the heart of good marketing is creativity, but many tend to prioritise data and analysis, and can get stuck in the ‘industry best-practice’ way of doing things. It makes sense that you would want to use tried and tested methods, but marketing is an ever-changing field, and you can all too easily become stuck in the old ways of doing things. School marketing staff shouldn’t be afraid of voicing out of the box ideas, and managers should encourage them to share their ideas. An open culture should be fostered, where staff are free to try different things and not be afraid of failure. Who knows, they may just come up with the next great industry tactic?

3. Isolating the marketing team

It’s all too common for teams to work in silos, with communication limited between different teams. It’s a problem when school marketers and admissions staff are isolated and working towards separate goals. Because they should ultimately be working towards the same end goal - enrolments - cross communication should be fostered and encouraged. School marketers usually have a wide range of daily tasks they’re committed to, which can include communication with prospective families. However, marketing’s main objective should be acquisitions, and they should largely leave relationships with families to admissions staff. By delegating the right responsibilities to the right staff, you’ll be able to get the most out of your talented team.

4. Disorganised communication channels

When it comes to digital marketing, you’re likely going to be using a host of different software and programs that are meant to make your life easier. Although there are plenty of great programs out there, when it comes to internal communication, it can be all too easy for the entire process to become disorganised and confusing. Notifications can fly at you from all angles; emails, instant messages, project management notifications, not to mention in-person communication. It can be hard to keep track of everything, so it’s a good idea to clearly designate certain channels for certain activities, and enforce a process so everyone knows exactly where to send messages depending on their purpose. 

5. Lazy self promotion

At the end of the day, your marketing is all about promoting your school. However, brashly promoting yourself in an obvious and obnoxious way won’t win over the hearts of your target audience, and is ultimately bad marketing strategy. Always assume your audience is as smart (if not smarter) than yourself, and craft your messages so that they provide information of value. What’s better, a post by your school claiming it’s the best in the state, or a post showcasing your industry-leading student to teacher ratio? Sell the benefits, not the product or service itself. Let your strengths do the talking.

6. Ignoring data

Trying to be competitive with your marketing without making use of data is like driving uphill with a flat tyre. You might get there in the end, but you could do it so much more efficiently! By tracking and analysing data, such as open rates, likes and follows, bounce rates, and more; you’re giving yourself a much more accurate picture of your campaigns and strategies. Having a clearer picture means you can make much more decisive and confident decisions, which is especially helpful if you’re currently struggling. By looking at the data, you can see where your weaknesses are, and correct them.

7. Not paying attention to your competition

Marketing is a competitive endeavour, and in order to judge your own performance, you need to be able to compare it to your contemporaries. You shouldn’t just look at what they’re doing right, but look at where they’re going off the tracks too. By looking at what they’re doing right, you can learn from them and incorporate some of their approaches into your own marketing strategy. By looking at what they’re doing wrong, you can spot opportunities to gain a competitive advantage for yourself. For example, if you notice that none of the other schools in your area are advertising a strong sports program, and you have one, then there’s a clear opportunity to carve out a portion of the market for yourself.

Wrapping up

With all the changes and developments in marketing, it can be easy to fall behind and become stuck in a rut with some bad marketing habits. However, by staying aware of current trends you can identify weaknesses in your own approach, and make adjustments where necessary. Building good habits will take you a long way, but once in awhile you need to stop and take a look around, and judge whether your old habits are still effective.

Published 14 June 2022