What’s More Important to Schools, Content Marketing or Traditional Marketing & Advertising?

Remember when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series by J.K. Rowling, was released in 2007?

It went on sale at 12:01 a.m. on a Saturday, but that didn’t deter Potter fans from standing in line for hours – days! – at their local Barnes and Noble to get a copy. And the sales showed it: the book sold a record 8.3 million copies in the U.S. in the first 24 hours.

Unfortunately, not all books launch with such fanfare – including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first in the series. The initial print run in the U.K.? Only 500 copies.

It was only after a successful book launch in both the U.K. and the U.S. that readers got their hands on the book and became massively engaged in the story. Sales then picked up, fans became fanatics, and today, more than 500 million Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide.

So what does this have to do with your school’s content marketing and traditional advertising?

Your content is your Harry Potter. Your advertising and marketing are your book launch.

Harry Potter became a worldwide phenomenon because the story is phenomenal. If it wasn’t a compelling story – and if J.K. Rowling wasn’t a masterful storyteller – those 500 copies would be collecting dust on a British library shelf.

But Harry Potter became known to fans because of the brilliant marketing efforts of its U.K. and U.S. publishers, including midnight book launches, separate book cover art to appeal to different audiences, fan blogs and more.

The lesson for school marketing:

Your story has to come first, and it has to be really, really good. But even with a killer story, you need to market the heck out of it.

As Joe Pulizzi writes in Epic Content Marketing:

“We use traditional advertising to make people aware of our brand and, in many ways, to demonstrate the heart of our brand. It’s the content marketing that can bring living proof of our brand to our customers.

Your story, your content, connects with audiences. Your marketing efforts create those connections.

If your content fulfills its promise – if it pleases, informs, entertains or engages your audiences – your audiences will become fans. And they will wait with anticipation for your next story.

But just like a new book from an unknown author, no one is going to read your story if it’s not marketed correctly. Your story needs an attractive cover, and it needs a description that appeals to your audience. It also doesn’t hurt if there are some testimonials on it from other amazing, respected people that your audience trusts (ahem, current and alumni students and families).

Traditional marketing and social media marketing are the way to position your story to your dream audiences to get buzz. But the marketing buzz itself is not what people connect with. People connect with the story. And people will soon realize if the story does not live up to the marketing buzz.

To truly connect with your audiences, you need both a great story and a smart marketing plan. One without the other is rarely, rarely successful.

Need help getting to the core of your story? Book a free Discovery Call, and let’s find the magic hidden in your school walls. 


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

Set Your School Marketing Up For Success.