Times have changed. Today, all organisations, including educational institutions, require sound sales and marketing strategies to thrive. That means that now more than ever, educational institutions are looking to create sales and marketing plans to guide them. Some tertiary institutions or Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) plan for the calendar year, while others plan for the financial year. The plans act as roadmaps for these institutions, keeping them on track with their initiatives throughout the year and, sometimes, into the next couple of years.
That said, the effectiveness of a sales and marketing plan will depend on whether it takes a holistic approach – incorporating metrics, data, an understanding of your target audiences’ needs and actionable and measurable online and offline initiatives.
In this post, we walk you through the essential steps for creating a solid education sales and marketing plan for the new year.
How to perfect your education sales and marketing plan for the New Year
Today’s dynamic and hypercompetitive environment demands that educational institutions have a sales and marketing plan regardless of whether they’re an online short course provider, a small private institution, an institution with several campuses, or an entire school district. Here we outline the essential steps to take for successful planning for the year ahead:
1. Determine the exact courses on offer
The first step to creating a successful education plan is determining the exact courses to offer. Determine whether the courses are competitive enough in the current job market and whether your course outlines and teaching approaches cover them exhaustively.
Also, determine the rate of enrolment for the various courses you offer. Are some courses getting lower enrolment than others? What may be causing this? Would replacing the course with another one currently experiencing high enrolment rates in other institutions be the right move? And do you have the resources and personnel to facilitate that new course? Answering those questions can help you decide which courses to offer in the new year.
2. Confirm how courses will be delivered
After determining what courses will be offered, you need to determine how they will be delivered. Do any courses you offer require students and educators to meet in person? Or do you offer courses that can be delivered 100 per cent online? Or is it possible to deliver the courses in a hybrid learning environment where students spend at least half of their time learning online and the rest of their time in physical classes?
How you decide to deliver a course will depend on its nature. For instance, practical courses typically benefit from being delivered in person, while theoretical courses could be delivered online. Alternatively, you could combine the best of in-person and online learning to deliver your courses more effectively.
3. Determine the capacity of each course and the minimum viable number for a course to go ahead
It’s important to understand the normal attrition rate of the institution’s courses. Understanding attrition entails determining the number of students who discontinue a course before completing it and why they discontinue. Do they do so because they find the course unhelpful, or is it because of insufficient teaching resources? You can use solutions of raw enrolment numbers to assess surrogate indicators and attrition of a program’s success.
Additionally, you should set the capacity of each course so that only the required number of students enrol. Similarly, it’s important to set the minimum viable number of enrolments for a course to go ahead to ensure profitability.
4. Analyse marketing efforts from the previous year
Analysing previous years’ marketing efforts will help you determine what was successful and what didn’t work. You might even determine why one marketing effort was successful and the other wasn’t and the measures you can take to avoid failures. For instance, analysing your initiatives can help you determine the impact of recruiting on-campus vs online and how not starting marketing efforts early enough for on-campus enrolment affects the number of enrolments. It may also help determine why enrolled students dropped out because, for instance, they may not have been properly qualified.
These analytics will form a basis for planning for the year ahead.
5. Reconfirm/determine the target market and their needs
It’s important to know who you will be marketing to before you start. Will you be targeting school leavers, hobbyists, mature-age students, etc.? When you know who you will be marketing to, you will be better positioned to create targeted campaigns utilising the most efficient channels that resonate with your audience. Additionally, when you have a specific target, you can offer products (courses) that meet their educational needs and deliver them conveniently—in-person, online, or hybrid learning.
6. Plot important dates for the year and ensure your future marketing efforts work around key milestones
Most people think that implementing a marketing plan is one of the challenging parts of the planning process, while in the real sense, it’s one of the easiest. The real work involves establishing goals, setting priorities, and ensuring those priorities and goals are met within a given timeline. It’s important to plot out key dates for the year, such as high school academic results and open days, to ensure that your marketing efforts align with XXX and work towards meeting the targets set for these dates and key future milestones.
7. Plan marketing initiatives aligned with your target market
It’s important to utilise lessons learnt from the previous year and factor in key dates when planning your initiatives to reach more potential students. These should include lead generation strategies, digital marketing and advertising, marketing campaigns, direct marketing, events etc. Here are a few examples of marketing initiatives to include in your planning:
- Create engaging video content: Since educational content is among the most popular, educational institutions can transform their existing products into informative and engaging video content to publish on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to entice potential students. These can range from snippets to whole tutorials to demonstrate their expertise.
- Implement digital marketing/advertising: Digital marketing offers precise targeting based on intent, demographics, engagement patterns, and other factors. Schools can target potential students who’ve shown interest in their product or service by visiting their site, clicking on an ad, or who reside in a specific area/region. Granular targeting like this allows you to use your budget more efficiently and prevent wasted clicks/views, positively impacting the success of your advertising campaigns.
- Use social media platforms to connect with the target audience: According to Statista, there are approximately 4.59 billion social media users globally. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are popular among people of all generations, whilst TikTok and Snapchat skew younger. Using social media marketing (SMM) to reach potential students lets you see who engages with your content and when. This provides valuable data that you can use for future social media content and advertising efforts.
- On-campus open days and events: In-person initiatives help sell students on the perks of choosing a program and facility, from career outcomes and peer and professional networks to overall campus lifestyle. They also help generate student leads to funnel through marketing automation processes and nurture them until application deadlines. You also can further target your new prospects with specific digital/advertising efforts based on the new information gained at the open day.
Before setting up your education sales and marketing plan for the new year, it’s essential to review data, metrics, and performance from the previous year. You should not only pay attention to the initiatives that performed well but also focus on those that didn’t to improve them or remove them from future planning. In addition, it’s also important to leverage various software/tools to deliver your plan to ensure you’re making the most of your data, nurturing leads, automating processes, and creating transparency across all departments. Finally, and potentially most importantly, you need a well-defined sales process and clear metrics to determine if and when a campaign is successful.
Ready to enhance your sales and marketing for the new year? Get in touch with us. We’re here to help you succeed with smart sales and marketing solutions.