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Parents on the hunt for the right school can find themselves swimming in brochures. They have heaps of information at their fingertips, but it’s all useless without a clear idea of what they are looking for. They may not even know what to prioritize.

Their quandary is your opportunity.

Parents are looking for a way to synthesize all that data. If you can provide it, you’ve already got your foot in the door. But if you can’t, you’re ceding a key advantage to the competitor who can.

The answer is content marketing.

What is content marketing?

Simply put, content marketing is when you create content that is valuable and relevant to your target audience. Content marketing teases leads out of that audience without explicitly trying to sell something.

Why should we use content marketing?

Content marketing is no longer the marketing of the future. It’s the marketing of the present.

Today’s consumers are smart and resourceful. They aren’t easily swayed by a smooth sales pitch. Instead, they do the research necessary to make informed decisions. When trying to solve a problem, such as choosing the right school for their child, they look for voices of authority.

Content marketing can establish you as an authority in your field.

It positions you to solve your audience’s problems.

Think of the mother who got her baby to sleep by swaddling, a method she learned about in a blog post titled “10 Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep Already.” The post was on a baby shop’s website. Mom is so happy she finally got a good night’s sleep, that she forwards the post to all her sleep-deprived friends.

When she swaddled her baby, she used a blanket that she had on hand and directions she found in the blog post. But the post mentioned that a purpose-made swaddle can be easier to wrangle in the middle of the night. Mom remembers that the blog was attached to a baby shop, and she heads back online to browse their selection of swaddles.

That is how content marketing generates leads. It’s simple, but exceptionally effective.

According to marketing advisory firm Demand Metric, 70 percent of consumers prefer to learn about a product or company through an informational article, rather than from an ad. Content marketing has also been shown to generate a whopping three times as many leads as traditional marketing.

Need another reason?

Here’s one: Content marketing saves companies 62 percent over traditional marketing costs.

OK, I’m sold. How do I do it?

Writing blog posts or articles is an easy way to start. Think about the problems your potential families face. Then explain how to solve them.

You will find that there are many subgroups within your target audience, so a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. You’ll need to target those subgroups individually with customized content.

Some families may be looking for a school that will prepare their child for a great college. They’re likely to be very interested in the tips you share on “5 Ways to Prepare Your Kindergartner for a Lifetime of Academic Success.”

Others prioritize their children’s happiness. The post that answers that question could be called “8 Secrets to Bringing Up a Joyful Child.”

Does your school have great sports teams? Try “10 Benefits of Team Sports on Your Child’s Mental Health.”

Blog posts or website articles are an easy way to get started, as you probably already have an online presence where you can post them. But they certainly aren’t the only way to create value for visitors to your site. You can also make videos, webinars, podcasts, e-books or white papers.

The key is to constantly be thinking about who your audience is, and what they need. Then give it to them. If you solve their problem, they will remember you as the authority who helped them in their time of need. They’ll be likely to return for more information, and to consider your institution seriously when it’s time to look for a school.

Other things to consider

Once you’ve determined what kind of content you will be providing, it’s time to start planning. Determine whether you’ll create content in-house, or plan to outsource. Where will you publish your content? How often will you publish? And how will you promote your content?

Powerful content can spread like wildfire on social media. If your school doesn’t already have social media presence, now is the time to remedy that. Many people are getting their information from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram these days. If you’re not there, you’re missing an opportunity.

Remember, content marketing isn’t like traditional advertising. You’re not giving your audience the hard sell, or any sell at all.

The content you produce under this approach should be informational and backed up with sound research and statistics. Consumers are smart. Half-baked content will not establish authority; it will diminish it.

In short, your best position yourself as the authority by actually being the authority.

Now get out there and start creating valuable content. You’re going to love what content marketing can do for you.

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