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A school district marketing plan requires preparation

To set yourself up for success, prepare before you set out to create your school district marketing plan. Whether you’re working on your annual plan, or a focused campaign, use these steps in your process.

Take inventory of your district’s marketing and communications

Grab a notepad or open up a Google doc to review your past marketing tactics and efforts. Here are some thought starters:

  1. Over the past year (or our previous effort), what were your most successful marketing efforts or tactics?
  2. What was your social media strategy? (PS: even if it was to actually post on social media, that counts!)
  3. What should your school district continue, stop, or start doing? This is a good way to assess what you keep and what you might start.

 

For example: Our district will continue Kinder Round Up promotion. We’ll stop using fliers for a Facebook post (and instead link to a flier). We’ll start promoting enrollment year round.

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Plan your school district marketing plan

Organization is so important to planning. To clarify, before you even start this next step, make sure you have an organization system in place. For example, you can use a Google drive for your documents. In addition, a management platform like Trello or Asana will keep you on task. Moreover, that system will hold your notes, screenshots, links, assets, and a calendar.

Let’s start with your calendar.

Lock down dates on your calendar for your school district marketing planning activities. That’s right! Plan out when you’re going to plan.

First, it helps to break down the process. Second, it keeps you on track. And third, you hold yourself accountable.

To clarify, your calendar plan might be over a period of a week, weeks, or a couple of months. You decide on the timeframe. Once you lock that down, then you’ll add in the actual tasks. Below is a list to get you started:

  1. List past successes
  2. Collect and review print collateral, promos, and ads
  3. Audit your website and note areas of improvement
  4. Use a critical eye for your social media channels. Review the analytics and note areas for improvement
  5. Gather past school district newsletters, analytics, and note areas for improvement
  6. Review past promotion topics like Pre-K registration, graduation, enrollment
  7. Brainstorm your school district goals and what you’d like to achieve

 

After that, make sure you organize your findings so it’s easy to refer to later on when you plan. Most importantly, create a system that you find easy to use. I use a combination of Trello and Google Drive. I simply couldn’t get things done without them.

Preparation includes organization 

As you’re working through your review process, organize your assets and information for easy reference. More importantly, you’re organizing your department. This will help you, your team, and anyone in the future.

Below is a list to build into a library. To clarify, organize these assets into folders on a Google drive. 

  • School district branding guide – colors, fonts, use
  • Logos and campus logos
  • District strategic goals
  • Data – for example: demographics, list of schools, #graduates, scholarships, dual credits, certifications
  • Photos by category
  • Videos by topic or category
  • Print collateral

Your school district marketing budget

Did this step cause you to freeze? As you prepare for your school district marketing ideas and plans, the budget question eventually shows up. For this step, it’s nothing more than a review. So, unfreeze and answer these questions 🙂 :

  1. Review the total dollar amount you spent each of the previous three years on marketing/communications
  2. Build a spreadsheet or Google sheet and list the following costs. If you have a staff member who does the work, note that separately. This will show value.
    • Website
    • Vendor/consultant/contractor
    • Print Items
    • Promotional Items
    • Digital Ads
    • Print advertising
    • Conferences
    • Events
    • Subscriptions (Canva, media clipping, etc)
    • Graphic design
    • Video
    • Copywriting
    • SEO
    • Other

To sum it up, once you’ve done all of this, you’re ready to start your school district marketing planning! Moreover, it will be so much easier now than if you tried to hammer away at it with no preparation.

Resources to check out:

Trello – a library of marketing templates. This is good to get the organization juices flowing

Hubspot – branding guide templates 

Image Relay: use one or a few of the ideas on organizing your photos