NAIS Annual Conference – Admission & Marketing Partnerships


This morning, I had the pleasure of presenting about the admission marketing partnership. You can access my presentation here.

When I started my presentation, I gave a disclaimer: Throughout this presentation, I’m going to use “dirty words.” I will talk about independent schools like they are businesses. It’s true. I did. I used words that schools typically hate hearing.

My goal was to talk about new ways for these two offices to work together. Ways that we could move beyond the tradition model where admission simply asked marketing to create “stuff” and instead work together strategically to solve problems.

The biggest problem our schools face is that we have declining demographics. NAIS is showing a few slight declines, but TABS has a bit more bleak picture for us: Boarding schools are losing 400 students a year; $15 million in net tuition revenue. It’s not good. So it’s becoming more and more competitive out there.

Day schools have invaded markets that were previously dominated by boarding schools. Online schools, home schooling, charter schools, magnet schools and even improved public schools are all challenging private schools to step up their game to find and keep their students. And guess what, those day schools that have invaded the boarding school markets? We’re coming back after your students. Be ready.

But how? Well, it’s time to throw out the old model of the admission marketing relationship. You can’t keep going with the model where admission simply asked marketing to create “stuff” anymore. Instead, it’s crucial for these two offices to be equity partners and work together strategically to solve problems.

I shared two case studies of how Cheshire Academy’s Strategic Marketing & Communications (SMAC) team has worked with Admission to do just that.

One study was our town scholarship, which was our first venture into doing a coordinated and fully tracked marketing campaign. We combined print, social media, web, and email marketing together into one cohesive campaign and we were able to assess our success. This particular campaign used unique material for a unique audience, including this video:
The campaign’s success on social media was incredible, demonstrating the best ROI out of all our outreach methods.

I also shared our inbound marketing journey, and the process of how we built our blog over four years, starting from a self-serving school-centric blog, until we finally made it to our current user-centric, optimized blog with gated content: The Student Center

Have questions about how we did what we did? Let me know in the comments below.

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