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school marketing news

How to identify and reach your school's target audience

Posted by Vanessa Klomp

Identify your target audienceYou know you like it.

I know I like it.

We all know we like it.

Personal attention.

So, it should be no surprise that parents like individual attention as well.

This makes it important to define your target audience or market and address them appropriately.

However, far too many schools still deliver one message through a marketing campaign to the largest audience possible, expecting parents to engage with it. A recent study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Responsys, reported that marketers realise the importance of developing and nurturing long-term relationships with clients and improving their experience at particular touch points or channels, but they continue to rely on mass-marketing and spend a large portion of their budget in this area. Almost 60 percent of the marketers surveyed planned to increase their budget for untargeted email marketing and advertisements in 2014.

And, this is despite knowing that one size doesn’t fit all.

Parents expect personal individual attention. They decide what messages or copy they will read and/or respond to, especially in this era of information overload with a daily bombardment of messages. It is important for marketers to cut through the ‘noise’ and connect with their parents or potential parents in a meaningful way. This is particularly relevant to an inbound marketing strategy, as parents choose what websites or communication appeals to them and how they interact with it.

So, before starting any communications campaign, take the time to carefully determine your objectives, outline clear goals and metrics, and follow a strategy that will help you achieve your target. 

Four factors to consider for your communications approach are:

  1. Align it with your marketing objectives — Generating leads, branding, or both.
  2. Key performance indicators — What does success for your school look like?
  3. Stakeholders (parents) — What methods can you use to communicate with them? What type of relationship do you have with them? Are there any obstacles? Your relationship with them dictates the main approach.
  4. Capacity — Your budget, human resources and time frame for success.

We’ll focus a bit more on your target market, that is, your parents or potential parents — the key people you wish to reach.

Your target audience determines your possible approach or tools. Put yourself in the shoes of your parents. What do they think about? What is relevant to them? What image can you produce to convey your message? What will capture their attention?

It simply wouldn’t work to have open day advertisements for potential parents in a magazine for retirees and seniors because they obviously won’t see it. This audience would more likely listen to or read parenting magazines.

In other words, consider a combination of:

  • demographics - gender, income;
  • geographic information;
  • psychographic information - activities, lifestyle, values;
  • needs and wants, and concerns.

Considering these factors will ensure that you are communicating appropriately to your target audience.

These factors provide a framework to determine a communication strategy and influence the approach and tools you select. Making a list helps the right strategic approach to become clearer, and produce ideas about which marketing tools will assist you to achieve success — your objective.

Don’t forget though that one tool is not enough, not every parent has time to read or flick through a parenting magazine. Think of other channels that might appeal, such as a local radio station, expos they might attend, websites they visit and programs they watch. You don’t need to stick with the traditional forms — think outside the box as to what might work for your target audience. The important thing to remember is to use multiple tools that focus on your target market so you effectively reach them.

Here are some more blogs on inbound marketing which might be of interest to you.

If you would like to learn more about inbound marketing, download this free ebook: How inbound marketing can grow your school.

inbound marketing

If you need help reaching your target audience book a complimentary 20-minute consultation. We have a whole team of professionals on hand to help you achieve your marketing goals. 

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This blog was written by Vanessa Klomp

Vanessa has in-depth knowledge of the education industry having worked in high school, home-schooling, international language and post-graduate fields of education, making her a natural fit to undertake the marketing communications of a number of imageseven’s education, not-for-profit and professional services clients. Vanessa enjoys travelling, running, sharing time with friends and family, and simply being outdoors.


Topics: Education, Inbound marketing, imageseven, Communication, Marcom