No Money, No Problem: 5 Ways to Market Your School with No Budget

6 min read
May 16, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Here are five tips for marketing your school but have no budget to work with.

If you, like most in the education world, are operating under a tight budget, paying for advertising and marketing opportunities can feel like a big risk.

When you don’t have a large budget to spend, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start — but it doesn’t have to be! 

If you’re looking for ways to increase visibility and improve your school’s marketing without spending a lot of money, here are five effective strategies that won’t break the bank.

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School Marketing Tip #1: Request Reviews

One of the best marketing strategies is to mobilize the people who already believe in your school: your current families!

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to get families to share their experiences at the school is through online reviews. 

School reviews are not only useful for potential families to read. They also have the potential to improve your search rankings and improve your general visibility.

Send a personalized note to families, and ask them to provide a review of your school on GreatSchools, Niche, PublicSchoolReview, Google, Facebook, or any other site potential families might look at for school information. 

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The more information and context your reviews have, the more other families will trust them, so get your families started by giving them some ideas on what to write about.

A personalized email to Mrs. Jones, whose son Jacob was just cast in the school play, congratulating him and encouraging her to share her family's experience at your school and the drama department, will likely get a much more favorable result than the generic mass email requesting reviews. 

Even if you have time to send only a few of these personalized targeted emails, they are much more likely to produce quality results than mass emailing. Plus, it can be done whenever you have a few spare minutes.

Best of all, they cost nothing! 

School Marketing Tip #2: Share Student Stories

Parents love to feel that their child is successful, happy, and valued at their school.

Much like hanging their artwork on the fridge, many parents are likely to share school stories and photos featuring their students on social media. This is obviously dependent on your school’s social media and photo policy, but if done well, can have a huge impact.

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Here are some tips sharing student stories on social media:

  • To have the highest personal value, share specific student stories, activities, or projects with the relevant context in the caption or post.
  • Videos or photos should be high quality and focused.
  • Captions should have a personal shout-out if allowed by your policies. 

For example, imagine a photo of a student reading to her classmate with the caption below:

“Way to go, Jane! We’re so proud of you for reading your favorite book to @MRSTeacher and your Kindergarten class!

#KindergartnersRule #LearningtoRead #ProudTeacher #GoodSchoolAcademy” 

This post is much more likely to be shared by Jane’s family and friends than a blurry shot of a whole classroom with generic text about Kindergarten and reading. 

Creating personal posts that families are likely to see and share can help not only mobilize them to share your content with their networks but also feel more connected with the school.

This is especially helpful because your parents are likely connected with other local parents on social media platforms, which happens to be the exact demographic we’re hoping to reach! 

School Marketing Tip #3: Use Your Subject Matter Experts

When creating marketing strategies, we can often forget the resources we have available in-house.

Within your organization, you already have a group of passionate and engaged subject matter experts: your teachers!

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Part of your marketing strategy should be to leverage the connections and expertise of those who are already on board with your mission and vision — and you’ve got them right down the hallway.

You can showcase your staff by nominating teachers or school leaders for local or national awards, speaking at relevant conferences or engagements, submitting op-eds for local papers or blogs, or participating in expert panels.

Using the expertise of your internal champions, you can position your school and your staff as trusted thought leaders in education. 

School Marketing Tip #4: Consider Earned Media 

Unlike ads or media attention you have to purchase, earned media is free. While it doesn’t necessarily cost money, it can require a lot of time and effort.

This is why developing a strong earned media plan and pitch is critical to your success.

The easiest way to get started is to crowd-source interesting, topical projects or events that are happening at your school. For example:

  • Did a teacher recently get nominated for an award?
  • Did your football team make it to state?
  • Is there a project focusing on a current event that is getting a lot of media attention?

Find something you think your parents and community members would be excited to hear about and get the word out! A press release is the easiest way to connect with reporters and get your story shared with a wider audience.

A great press release has all relevant information and links to photos/videos if available. Write the release as if you were a journalist. Keep it factual, concise, and informative. 

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If you’ve never written a press release for your school before, here are some tips and tricks that might help you:

  • The best way to get your press release seen is to target it to reporters who cover topics relevant to your story. If your story is about students attending a local government session, either the education or government affairs reporters would be a great place to start.
  • If you’d like to pitch a story about your football team, check out local sports and education reporters.
  • Once you find the contact you’d like to pitch, send an email with your press release included.
  • Don’t forget to provide information for the reporter to reach out with any additional questions.

School Marketing Tip #5: Get Creative

Don’t be afraid to get creative and try things that seem a little out of the box. Cheap and creative will beat expensive but stale almost every time, so start brainstorming!  

Also keep in mind that while creativity and innovative strategies can be really impactful, there are some bounds to what is feasible, appropriate, and relevant to your organization. Make sure there is a clear connection between your strategy and your organization.

For example, a school known for the arts might take a field trip to the local park and do a huge chalk mural of your school’s mascot. However, a STEM school might set up a used technology recycling day at the local farmers market with a branded tablecloth and signage. 

While these aren’t traditional marketing streams, they meet potential families in places they likely already are and have clear tie-ins to the reputation of the school they represent.

Best of all, the majority of the resources needed to pull these strategies off are time, creativity, and effort rather than budget. 

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Get Started!

School marketing on a budget can be difficult, but with these tips, some ingenuity, and a well-thought-out plan, you can make a huge impact with a small budget.

Use your resources, get creative, and remember to collaborate with your team, teachers, principals, students, and families included.

You’ve got a great school, amazing students, and a compelling story to share — so let your community hear about them!

Click here to discover all of our posts about school marketing.

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