In the post-secondary market, most colleges and universities are registered as .edu. However, for the rest of you in other schools in the U.S., what domain name should you select for your school? Should your school select .com, .org, or even .net? Or something else?
I do not believe there is any law that stipulates that only non-profits can use the .org domain extension. However, public perception probably sees a .org site as a non-commercial venture. In this light, having your school’s main domain registered as a .org is smart.
In 2013, I still believe that .com sites are the most popular and most memorable for the average person. My hunch is that prospective families (who do not know the exact URL) might type in “yourschoolname.com” first before they type in “yourschoolname.org” – so for that reason alone, I would advocate purchasing the .com domain. But there is no need to host it separately. Simply have the company where your name is registered redirect it to the .org site. Plus, keep in mind that there are folks out there who might grab “yourschoolname.com” and park it (or worse, redirect it to something inappropriate or to a competitor), so this is another reason to simply pay the small fee to secure the .com domain.
This is not an article about mobile, but that should be considered. What about .net, .me, etc…? If you are hyperprotective of your brand, then go and secure every domain extension you can get. They do cost and that adds up. I do not think anyone looking at a school would type in “yourschoolname.net” – just do not think it will happen.
Having subdomains (usually talk to your hosting provider to see if this is possible) could drive people to unique areas such as athletics. Usually within a subdomain (athletics.yourschoolname.org), you may also be able to launch a unique version of your site with a different layout and design (on most websites, within the yourschoolname.org, most of the design is similar). You could launch an entire site with a different .org around your school’s mascot such as “yourschoolmascotathletics.org” – but it depends if you want the “yourschoolname” consistency or not. Whereas most schools offer a “yourschoolname.org/athletics”, most of the time the design will have to be consistent with the Academics area just as Fine Arts. It really depends on how specific you want to get with the layout/design/content for each area.
Certainly, we encourage the use of marketing domains to drive people to a specific landing page during a limited campaign. Perhaps you are in the middle of recruiting season and you are at a “meat market” event with 20 other private schools. It is difficult in these environments to differentiate because you are all given a 10′x10′ area and a table. Rather than driving people to “yourschoolname.org” (just like everyone else), why not be bold/provocative/memorable and grab “BestPrivateSchoolInDallas.org”? This will make you feel a little awkward and may create a little tension around you, but I suspect more families will remember your domain name when they get home more than anyone else! Have a little fun on the page and let students create 30-second videos on why they think your school is the “bestprivateschoolin___(city)____.org” – and maybe even poke fun at the pompous sound to the domain. In reality, the point is to get them to the site so you can lead them to your main .org site.
One of the better recent examples of this at a university level is Oregon State’s “Powered by Orange” campaign. To visit (see this marketing domain in use): http://poweredbyorange.com/
(read more about the PBO case study at MStoner.com)
I recently spoke to a Christian school about marketing and social media. During the full-day marketing clinic, I got to spend 90 minutes listening and facilitating a discussions with this dynamic group of front-line soldiers. They had some great ideas on developing, capturing and sharing content about the students they were with every day.
Your front-line soldiers are sometimes parents of current or former students, sometimes former students who have returned to your school to teach (that’s a story I would capture on video because that says a lot about how great your school is), and sometimes your teachers just love teaching in a Christian school environment.
Here are 3 ways to encourage your teachers so they will be a solid source of referrals for your school:
- Make life easier – survey your teachers and find out something that you could do to lighten their load after hours. Offer a concierge service for soft drink or coffee runs in the middle of the day or hook up a partnership with a local dry cleaner for morning pick up at the school’s front office, saving them a morning errand (make this perk available exclusively for your teaching staff so they know that it is for them; don’t let parents use this service).
- Invest in them – offer a once-a-month “Lunch-n-Learn” where you (or the PTO or a local restaurant) caters lunch; PD is critical but costly, so look for ways to cost-effectively educate and keep your teachers at the top of their game. Perhaps there are parents who have expertise in areas useful for teachers (social media, investments, caring for aging parents, etc.)
- Treat them like royalty – it’s not often possible to pay your teachers as well as they deserve, so look for ways to reward and recognize them for their years of service, commitment and innovation. Propose a reward for milestone anniversaries (but don’t be cheap with your rewards – find partnering restaurants or stores who want to have their name on the gift card and associated with such recognition). While typical teachers shy away from the spotlight, I think there is a deep down longing among most teachers to be acknowledged for their innovation in the classroom. Get them featured in the local news or in a teaching publication by contacting the appropriate journalist or editor. A little limelight benefits your school but offers a genuine “attaboy” to your teacher for their hard work. And do not neglect the positive praise everyone needs! Genuinely heap on the compliments and have plenty of opportunities for parents to show appreciation (when done as an all-school event, there is more buzz than casually hoping parents privately praise each teacher, so coordinate a quarterly “Our Teachers Rock Day”).
Treating your “customer service professionals” better than any teacher at any public or private school helps to ensure their longevity and helps them stay motivated. Both of my parents were school teachers (Dad taught in the high school; Mom taught for 30+ years in 1st and 2nd grade). I know that even your love of teaching is challenged by unmotivated kids, troublesome parents, teacher-to-teacher dynamic, or other worries of life. Stand in the gap for them and they will tell others about their awesome workplace experience!
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Doesn’t every marketer, whether you are selling soap, automotive repair or a Christian school education, wish there was a magic formula for marketing? Well, I would not call it magic, but I can suggest a formula to follow.
The big picture is a formula is broken up into 3 macro sections:
STRATEGY + TACTICS + CONTENT
Now let us break this down into the specifics of the formula: Read More→