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5 Things You Say That Prove You’re Wasting Your School Marketing Budget

5 Things You Say That Prove You’re Wasting Your School Marketing Budget

Marketing is supposed to bring in money, not waste it.

But all too often, marketing budgets are blown because we use them to market to ourselves, justifying poor or uninspired decisions with clichéd excuses that give us a buffer between our choices and accountability.

When asked about your marketing plan, if you find yourself falling back on age-old excuses, you’re probably wasting both your time and your resources.

If someone else is giving you the old marketing rationale song-and-dance, don’t let them off the hook so easily. Let’s work together to be a little better and make both our colleagues and our target audiences recognize the value in marketing and communications.

Here are the top 5 things you’re probably saying right now that prove you’re wasting your marketing budget:

5: “Let’s get going on the design/programming. We’ll worry about the content later.”

I get it. Design is fun and sexy. Programming is super-nerdy-cool. Both of them make you feel like you’re creating something tangible – they bring a concept to life before your eyes. But what good is a super shiny new toy if it doesn’t work?

No good. No good at all. (Just ask any parent who has forgotten to buy batteries for super-shiny-new-toy on Christmas morning. Horrible.)

Strong content is battery power.

Without it, your website/brochure/social platforms will seem super and shiny for about 5 seconds … before it gets tucked away with all the other super and shiny – and boring – marketing out there. Don’t be the parent who forgets the batteries on Christmas morning. Give your audiences a reason to stay and play. Stock up on strong content first, and give your marketing the power to shine.

4: “We just need to be on [social media platform].”

You see your competitors on the latest, greatest social media platform — the one that promises to be the next Facebook, or Pinterest, or LinkedIn, or Twitter. And you get nervous. You need to be on there, too. Today.

So you tell your marketing team to create one of those newfangled pages for the company and put some stuff up there. And you feel a sense of accomplishment. When someone asks if you’re on shiny-new-platfor,, you can now proudly say: “Oh yes. We’re an early adopter.”

Hold up. Did you know that there are more than 60 popular social media platforms, and the number of social media users is nearly 3.2 billion? On average, internet users have 7.6 social media accounts, and a new social media user is added every 10 seconds.

What does this all mean? Simply having a presence on a social platform is meaningless. Your social media activity – and the energy you put into it – is only meaningful if it is somehow driving or positively impacting your marketing goals. 

Before you “just need to be on” that social media platform, you need to justify why. How does it fit into your overarching content marketing strategy? What results do you expect from your involvement? If you don’t have these answers, please, stay away from Snapchat.

3. “Content isn’t really measurable anyway.”

Content, content marketing, storytelling … they’re not mysterious, intangible, mythical entities that can’t be measured. (That, my friends, is the Loch Ness Monster.) Content marketing a real strategy with real ways to measure success.

Content marketing only seems like a Loch Ness Monster when you don’t have the goals and metrics in place to measure. That’s why it’s so important to know what you want to achieve with your content creation before diving in. So, what do you want content marketing to do for you?

  • Increase your school’s brand awareness and engagement?
  • Connect with prospective families?
  • Engage current students and families?
  • Increase donations and alumni giving?
  • Establish your expertise?
  • Grow your influence in the media?

All of these things are measurable. And all of these things can be tracked through content marketing.

5 Things You Say That Prove You’re Wasting Your School Marketing Budget

2. “Everybody else is doing it.”

Remember in middle school when you had to watch those PSA-style videos about peer pressure? What was the first thing Mr. Bully always said while holding out a cigarette to little Johnny?

“C’mon kid, everybody else is doing it. It’s the cool thing to do. Don’t you wanna be cool, kid?”

Spoiler alert: It wasn’t the cool thing to do. And it still isn’t. 

Arguing that “all of our competitor schools market this way, so we have to, too,” is another way of giving in to lousy, uninspired marketing peer pressure.

I recently talked to a client about an annual print piece that they send out to thousands of prospects. It’s extremely costly. And they have no idea if it gets them any new students. When I asked them why they’re still doing it, they said: “Because everyone else does it. If we don’t, we’ll be the only ones who aren’t on the table.”

But if prospective families are ignoring everyone’s print piece, why should you be adding to their recycling bins (and spending a boatload of bucks to do so)?
It goes back to striving to be the best in your industry. Be a leader. Produce the best content. And follow your gut. If you know something isn’t working, change it. And that brings us to…

1. “We’ve always done it this way.”

The #1 offender of school marketing budgets everywhere.

The “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” fallback is the “because-I-said-so” of the business world. And you know what my kids say when I say, “because I said so”?

“But, WHYYYYY Mama????”

And regardless of how annoying that is, they’re right.

“Because” is not an answer. “We’ve always done it this way” is not an answer. Status quo is not an answer. 

Think about all of the great marketing or advertising campaigns that have ever made news. They weren’t applauded because they gave us something we were all familiar and comfortable with. They broke tradition. They stood out in a time when it’s nearly impossible to stand out. And it’s because they didn’t stick to the way it’s always been done.

Don’t be an “always been done”. Be a “never been done”. Put that marketing budget to good use, and prove that smart communications are worth the investment.

What are your favorite marketing excuses? Add them to the comments below.


Tell us what you think, or ask us any questions. We’re here to help!

  • I also get irked by “We just don’t have the resources.” That may be true, but before you say it, let’s take a look and see if the resources you’re using to execute ineffective marketing can be reallocated.

    Becky - August 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm
  • Great one! Those resources are usually connected to “we’ve-always-done-it-this-way” marketing 🙂

    Emily Cretella - August 28, 2014 at 9:33 pm
  • Thanks so much. This is a wake up call.

    Bukola - April 28, 2020 at 9:30 am

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