How can you reach more students and parents and get them to consider the programs and courses you offer? Content marketing is a powerful way to drive traffic and leads, but with so much content out there, your school’s content needs to be powerfully impactful to support your marketing objectives.
While crafting your school’s content marketing strategy, it pays to highlight those features that differentiate your school, programs, or courses from others. In other words, defining and promoting your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) is a smart idea. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through defining your school’s USPs and support each point with real-life examples of each principle in action.
The Value Of Leveraging USPs in Your School’s Content Marketing Strategy
How exactly do you sum up the value of your school’s education in just a few short words?
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) refers to a unique aspect or benefit of a product or service that sets it apart from its competitors. In this context, it is a statement that conveys the unique value proposition of your school, course, or program, explaining what makes it different, better, and more appealing to potential students.
Your school’s USPs are designed to communicate to the target audience what is unique about the school or programs and why they should choose you over the competition. A good USP should be clear, concise, and easily understandable and appeal to the specific needs and desires of potential students. Similarly, it may point out any special advantage that can be enjoyed by students who choose your school or program.
Far from being mere slogans or catchphrases, USPs showcase institutions’ positions, outlooks, and worldviews. As such, they can and should be incorporated into all touchpoints between your students (and potential students) and your school. In other words, your school’s USP can help focus your content marketing strategy and influence your branding and other marketing decisions. A good USP should, at a glance, clearly define your school and identify how it stands out from the others; this is at the core of what content marketing aims to achieve. In this way, a USP can help sharpen, define, and focus your content marketing strategy.
One of the most important keys to running an effective content marketing strategy is constantly making your USPs clear and impactful. For a school, this could mean spreading the word about its most important results, achievements, and value offerings. USPs are crucial to a school’s attempt to differentiate itself from its competition and build a strong customer appeal. An effective set of USPs for your school will attract prospective students to it and convince them to choose you over competitors.
Example: The Montessori Academy of Lancaster— “Fun, creative, innovative, special, just like your child – unique and personal.”
The Montessori Academy of Lancaster’s USP statement speaks to a typical parent’s desire to get the best education for their child. It aims to make learning fascinating and personalized to children’s development stages. And Its focus on the active participation of students in the learning process helps its students turn out as confident, independent learners. Beyond this, the school encourages the formation of strong bonds between teachers and students, and students are encouraged to collaborate rather than compete with their peers.
Source: Montessori Academy of Lancaster
How USPs Can Differentiate Your School From Competitors
Your school’s USPs speak of its brand identity and help you put your best foot forward. Sometimes, they may refer to a unique curriculum, exciting extracurricular activities, cutting-edge laboratory technology, or a focus on sporting excellence. And in this era, when the competitive outlook in the education sector is becoming even more blurry, there’s value to be found in standing out.
Studies show that students are becoming increasingly removed from the boring and mundane aspects of school life. This presents your school with an opportunity to do something different. So, if your school’s USPs include a range of specialized programs, teaching resources, or capacities peculiar to it, then you should put them out more at every opportunity to showcase your school as a top choice.
Ensure your school’s USPs are at the front burner in your content marketing strategy by weaving them into content, including your website, blog, email newsletters, school publications, and social media channels. This is one of the most effective ways to generate leads that you can convert into registered students.
Example: WU Executive Academy— “Know how to succeed.”
WU Executive Academy touts itself as Europe’s largest business university. And with more than a hundred years of delivering executive education behind it and a trail of successful alumni to boot, why wouldn’t it? So when WU Executive Academy states that its programs help students “learn how to succeed,” they can take this at face value.
Source: WU Executive Academy
Identifying Your School’s USPs
Identifying your school’s USPs should be among the first steps in creating a winning content marketing strategy to attract prospective students. Here’s how to go about it.
1. Analyze Your School’s Strengths and Weaknesses
When creating a USP for your school, it is important to begin by analyzing your school’s strengths and weaknesses. This analysis can help you identify the unique qualities and characteristics that set your school apart from others, as well as areas where your school may need to improve.
By focusing on your school’s strengths and addressing its weaknesses, you can create a compelling USP that resonates with prospective students and their families. In this process, you may also want to consider the competitive landscape in your area and how your USP can help you stand out in a crowded market. So once you’ve identified what area you excel at, you can now target the student market covered by that demographic.
For instance, the last NFHS report puts the number of students interested in high school sports at over 7 million, a massive market for sports-focused schools. If your school’s thriving sports program is its biggest selling point, this is the feature you’ll want to draw attention to. On the other hand, if the prospects in STEM occupations are just as studies show (10.8% growth between 2021-2031), and your school’s STEM-focused curriculum is comparable to the best, you’ll want to highlight your school’s STEM-based learning system at every turn. The key is to leverage your school’s core competencies and make them the star attraction in your content marketing campaign.
Example: Mater Dei High School—Honor, Glory, and Love
Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, is renowned for its sporting excellence. And this points to its mantra of “honor and glory” as backed by countless sporting triumphs. It built this reputation on several early sporting breakthroughs that resulted from sizable investments in its sports development programs. And it now boasts a strong repertoire of medals and several accomplished alums who have passed through its state-of-the-art training facilities.
Source: Mater Dei High School
2. Understand Your Target Audience and Their Needs
Understanding your target audience helps you determine what is most important to them in your offering. This is so that you can emphasize the more important “buying criteria” and decide how best to structure your content marketing. One way to do this is to build student personas, which are fictional representations of your student prospects.
These student personas can help you:
- Create a more precise and targeted student recruitment outreach.
- Gain relevant insight into what programs students are interested in.
- Identify what goals students are mostly invested in.
If you get it right, you should have a good grasp of what target student demographic to build your school’s content marketing strategy around.
Example: ENSR’s Sport and Study Program—”Combining elite sports with academic excellence”
ENSR’s “Dual Focus” program is an individualized program that allows students to balance their pursuit of sporting excellence with a robust academic presence. The program targets athlete students keen on college sports while offering them a way to continue on the right learning path. So these students can train and compete to the best of their abilities (aided by top-notch facilities) without sacrificing their academic goals.
Note: Your school’s USPs do not always have to be measured in tangible terms. They could be hinged on values or ethics that appeal to many student demographics, which are some of the things that make a great school.
Example: The University of Massachusetts (UMass)—”A revolutionary university”
UMass is highly acclaimed for promoting diversity, equality, and social justice on its campus. Its major USP is its pivot as a safe space for living and learning, and it draws from the famous Massachusetts revolutionary history. It prides itself on being a melting pot of diverse backgrounds, races, genders, religions, and sexual orientations, all of which represent key student demographics. And studies have shown that diversity on campuses improves the learning experience for most people.
Source: University of Massachusetts
3. Emphasize the Benefits to Students and Parents
Parents want to get all the facts about the school their children are enrolled in. And the students also want to be able to look forward to the gains of attending your school. So you must use every opportunity to present the various benefits of attending your school, and this is where experiential marketing comes in.
And while at it, ensure to define your school’s USPs clearly. This is so that people can quickly grasp them with a glance at your school’s page or business directory. Focus on what stands out, from strategic collaborations to extracurricular activities and special learning packages.
Example: AAPS— “Your college, Your future”
For AAPS, it is the employability of its graduates and the strong support system it has built for them. The school boasts a 100% graduate employment rate and 100% employer satisfaction as part of its value proposition—great news for students. And it is not a mere claim that they bandy around. This is evident in the strong professional network of industry partnerships its students ultimately leverage.
4. Use Data and Evidence to Support All Your Claims
Data backed up by tangible proof can bolster all the assertions you make while putting out your school’s USPs. That’s why it’s important to provide relevant data and statistics to reinforce your arguments. So, when you put out articles or videos to market your school, be sure to include the numbers and stats needed to support your claims—for example, point prospects to important school rankings where you feature favorably or successful competitive outings.
Example: Randolph-Macon Academy touts a 100% college acceptance rate as one of the benefits enjoyed by its students, those taught according to its aviation education and College Preparatory Curriculum.
Additionally, its class of 2022 is reputed to have graduated up to 59 students that are recipients of scholarships worth $16.9 million. These impressive figures posted across its media platforms provide the data to support the school’s high-performance claims.
Source: Randolph-Macon Academy
Implementing Your School’s USPs Into Your Content Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve identified your school’s USPs, your focus should switch to creating an effective educational content marketing strategy. Then, give your USPs center stage in your school’s strategy.
Are you interested in receiving personalized support and assistance in developing an effective higher education content strategy for your school? Our team of education marketing experts can help. Reach out to learn more!
Create Content That Highlights Your USPs
You want your school website’s visitors to immediately recognize the school’s value proposition once they pop on your homepage. So you must provide them with a clear picture of your USPs.
If your USP is based on targeted learning or STEM education, ensure it is spelled out clearly in the content posted across all your communication platforms. One vital tip is to use infographics on your websites as they help to paint a clear picture of what your school offers.
While writing promotional articles for the school, be sure to use effective SEO keywords and insert stories and pictures that show students enjoying these USPs. If you’re at a loss, the internet is an excellent resource for school website content ideas.
Example: The High Technology High School in Lincroft, New Jersey—”Building tomorrow’s leaders”
The High Technology High School prides itself as a leader in STEM education, with a specialized STEM curriculum centered on project-based learning as its key value offering. And visiting its homepage will leave you no doubt about what type of school it is. Its USP statement speaks to a desire to build students that become innovative and effective problem-solvers in the future.
Source: The High Technology High School
Incorporate USPs Into Your Website and Social Media
Ensure that your USPs are the first thing visitors to your school’s website see and the thing that sticks with them. Also, develop a social media strategy that feeds off your USPs with visuals and stories that speak well of your school. Let your message be consistent across all the platforms used to spread the word about your school.
An important purpose of digital marketing for schools is to ensure they are visible and instantly recognizable across multiple online channels. One effective way to achieve this is to put a face to the series of content you put out. To this effect, you may consider student-generated content, as your students are the biggest beneficiaries of your school’s USPs.
Example: The University of Delaware boasts a thriving study-abroad program, a vibrant, beautiful campus, and an international students-friendly reputation as its USPs. And its social media directory opens up to a world of endless resources, with students taking their time under the spotlight to promote these USPs. The University has many social media platforms devoted to many of its programs. And its students curate many of the contents it rolls out. By putting its students at the forefront of its social media marketing campaign, it offers prospects a glimpse into the exciting student experience at the school.
Source: University of Delaware
Track and Measure the Success of Your USPs in Marketing Campaigns
It is important to track the type of reception that is given to the USPs included in your marketing campaigns. The information obtained from this process can help you further advance your school’s content marketing efforts.
After putting out the word about your school:
- Follow through with your marketing campaign to check if your message sticks with its target audience.
- Find out if people are interested in your school’s USPs or if there are better offers or versions elsewhere.
- Consider creating separate landing pages, each with unique content, and find out which generates the most conversions, clicks, or registrations.
The unique content may be a sports-focused program, a robust student community, or a specialized curriculum, for instance. This simple technique can help you make crucial changes to your USP design. Another way to track the reception given to your school’s USPs is to use customer surveys and questionnaires. These surveys help you with relevant insight into how attractive your USPs are. And this is key to the success of your school’s content marketing campaign.
Example: Austin Community College promises accessible and affordable education in an environment that encourages students to be active, life-long learners. The University administers the Noel-Levitt student satisfaction survey to track its performance across key service areas. These service areas cover many of its USPs, including its student-centeredness and instructional and financial aid effectiveness. The answers it gets help it measure student perception of its USPs, among other things.
Source: Austin Community College
The role of USPs in content marketing for schools is critical. USPs pave the way for customer lock-in and patronage of the school, course, or program on offer. So, if you want to interest and convince people to buy into your ideas or educational services, you must tell them the most important and unique thing about that school or those educational services.