A marketing plan is a document that outlines how you’re going to implement your marketing strategy. It’s written for a detailed time period, usually annually, and explains both your current situation and what you’re looking to achieve over that time period.
So, before we get started, why do you need a marketing plan?
Without a good marketing plan in place, you won’t have an official system for assessing where your enquiries and admissions are coming from. You could be wasting money on marketing and advertising avenues that aren’t working for your school while underutilising effective marketing strategies at the same time.
How to Write a Marketing Plan
Writing a marketing plan may seem like it involves far too many elements, and you’re already thinking “this is going to take me ages!” But it doesn’t need to be difficult. Of course, it comes with some effort, but by doing it step-by-step this will help you create a strong and effective marketing plan for your school.
Download our Marketing Plan template, it’ll give you a great starting point for your school’s marketing plan. Plus, we’ve included an example marketing plan for ‘Ambleglow Academy’, to show you exactly how your plan will come together.
Let’s get started, a strong marketing plan includes the following elements:
- Executive Summary
- Mission Statement
- Situation Analysis
- SWOT Analysis
- Target Market
- Customer Personas
- SMART Objectives
- Marketing Objectives
- Marketing Channels
- Marketing Budget
And we’re going to run through each of them…
#1 Executive Summary
This is a summarised version of your entire marketing plan. The main objective is it to briefly list everything that is significant. Keep in mind that when the Senior Leadership Team read your marketing plan, they won’t have time to read it in full. So, you need to make sure they’re getting the full picture straight away.
#2 Mission Statement
This will probably be the shortest section of your marketing plan; you just need to jot down your school’s mission statement.
If you don’t already have one, answer the following questions to help you come up with one.
- What do you want to do?
- Why do you want to do it?
- Who do you do it for?
All of your school’s marketing activities should be based on this mission statement.
#3 Situation Analysis
The situation analysis covers the following five sections. To help you out, we’ve outlined some questions to help you complete each section.
Unique selling points
- What are your school’s unique selling points?
- What separates you from your competitors?
- What can you shout about?
- What are your school’s best practices?
Marketing Objectives and Performance
- What were your marketing objectives from last year?
- Did you manage to achieve them?
- If not, why? And what got in your way?
- What challenges is your school facing? This could be a bad Ofsted review, undersubscribed, local competition etc.
- Who are your competitors?
- How are they performing?
- What are they doing better than you?
#4 SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis allows you to identify your school’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as any opportunities and threats.
This is a great opportunity to get the marketing/SLT team together to really analyse your school, from every angle. It’s also worth asking other members of staff what they’d consider your school’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to be.
#5 Target Market
Your target market is the sort of families you want to attract to your school, this section should be as detailed as possible.
Ask yourself the following questions when putting together your target market.
- Which geographical areas are in your target market?
- How can you reach them?
- Why would families in these areas be drawn to your school?
- Why would families in these areas be put off by your school?
- What are these family’s current needs?
#6 Customer Personas
You’ve defined your target market. That’s great, but now we need to dive deeper. So now is the time to create your customer personas.
Unless you understand precisely who to target with your school’s marketing, you’ll struggle to reach them effectively. After all, parents and children are looking for different things. Some are looking for high academic results, while others are looking for high levels of pastoral care or opportunities to expand their horizons with a varied curriculum.
To help you do so, we’ve created a free Customer Persona template for you to download. This also includes three examples for you to work from, you can download the template here.
#7 SMART Objectives
SMART objectives are goals that are designed to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. Ask yourself the following questions to get started:
- What do you want to achieve?
- Who needs to be involved?
- When do you want to achieve it?
- Why should you aim to achieve this goal?
- How can you measure progress?
- How will you know you’ve successfully met your goal?
- Are you capable of achieving these goals?
- Do you have the skills necessary?
- If not, can you build them?
- Why should you achieve these goals?
- What would the impact be?
- What is the deadline for these goals?
#8 Marketing Objectives
This part of the marketing plan is about setting ambitious but achievable goals and defining how you’ll measure success.
This will feed in nicely from your SMART Objectives but give a more in-depth look into the goals.
#9 Marketing Channels
This section is looking at which channels you’ll be using to complete the goals you’ve outlined above. You then need to work out how the channels you’ve chosen will ramp up the success of your school.
For each channel, you need to outline the following:
- Purpose of the channel
- Metrics to measure success
- Who’s responsible
Your school’s website will always be your top channel, you just need to figure out what other channels (social media etc.) you want to use.
Remember, we’d always advise that you use a few channels well rather than using them all and spreading yourself too thin.
#10 Marketing Budget
Creating your marketing budget can be another one of those tasks you’re not too keen on. But, again, it doesn’t need to be.
There are two different ways you can get started:
- Build your budget based on last year’s spending
- Build your budget from scratch
When creating the budget, look at what you spent last year, where you want to cut back and which areas this is possible in. You should consider all costs, from social media ad costs to Open Day advertising costs and copywriting. List these elements one by one and assign a budget to them.
To help you out, we’ve created a Marketing Budget template, just click here to access it. We’ve even included all the formulas you’ll need, just make a copy of the Google Sheet to get started.
Your marketing plan is the foundation of your school’s marketing activities. Spend time on creating a strong and effective plan, and you’ll benefit from these efforts in the future.
To download our Marketing Plan template and example, click here.
To access our Marketing Budget template, click here.