For private schools, marketing and finance teams share a single goal: improve revenue for the organization. Marketing teams primarily do this by helping increase enrollment (bringing in new revenue). Meanwhile, finance teams and members of the business office help maintain and manage the school’s revenue. They both play important roles, and both need to know how to perform them together.
What happens if marketing contributes to increased enrollment, but the business office poorly manages the funds? Or if the business office is asked to spend more on an initiative, but marketing is doing a poor job attracting new families (revenue)? Though the two roles have different daily functions, a school can’t fulfill its purpose if they aren’t in alignment. Here are a few ways to make sure marketing and finance work better together.
Encourage collaboration (and get school leaders involved)
Efforts like this should start at the top. Work with your school leaders to help marketing and finance teams connect and learn how they can work together to achieve the school’s goals.
- Schedule monthly or quarterly check-ins and allow each team to give updates on their progress toward goals and upcoming initiatives.
- Set up regular lunch and learns or opportunities for each team to educate the other. Examples:
- The marketing team teaches the business office how they decide what to spend on social media ads and how to measure results.
- The business office teaches marketing about the tools they use to determine budgets or project cash flow.
- Assign a project the two teams can work on together. For example, the business office might share financial literacy tips with the marketing team. Then, they can use that information to create a campaign to educate prospective and current families.
Have the two teams work on website messaging
Before a family decides if they want to attend your school, they’ll research how to pay for it first – that means going through your website. Your business office and marketing teams should both have a voice in the content featured on your website, working together to communicate opportunities for families to afford tuition.
Let them partner on budgeting and expense management
Private school marketers are constantly challenged with spreading the word with as little budget as possible. And when budgets are tight, marketing activities are often among the first to get cut. In reality, business offices should think of marketing as an investment, not an expense. Have the two teams work together to determine how many new students they need to enroll to offset proposed marketing expenses. The equivalent of one child’s tuition spent on smart marketing strategies might result in six or seven new students joining the school. It’s important for the teams to remain flexible by tracking the results and making adjustments based on them.
Make key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics more transparent
In their monthly or quarterly meetings, give each team a chance to share performance metrics related to the school’s overall goals. What kind of KPIs should they share? Try these to start:
- Number of inquiries submitted through school website (or other marketing channels) and how many converted to enrollees
- Campaign results. For example, how much was spent on the last round of social media ads, and how many inquiries resulted? It’s also important for marketers to communicate benchmark data so the finance team understands what constitutes a successful or unsuccessful campaign.
- Cost per student (the cost the school incurs to educate one student).
- The gap between tuition and fees per student and the cost per student. (This can also be important to communicate to current families in certain situations. Tuition increases or annual giving campaigns are a good example. The marketing team can help craft messaging around the need, while the finance team puts together numbers to display on an infographic to make it easier to digest.)
- What families are saying. It’s the whole school’s responsibility to listen to what current and prospective families are feeling about the school and make sure to share that with other teams.
If it seems like your business office and marketing teams are working in two totally different worlds, the solution could be to simply encourage more communication. “Knowing the mission will help them work together. If marketing is working towards the school’s mission, then finance will be willing to provide the budget for that,” said Nina Laney, Advancement Coordinator for the Diocese of Kalamazoo. Remind them that they don’t just share a goal – they share a purpose. You’re here to give kids access to high-quality education. And the best way to do that is by working together.