I do my best thinking in that space of time in the morning between sleep and not-quite-awake. I was thinking about the private school marketers I have worked with over the last 20 years as principal of Turnaround Marketing Communications, and wondered, “What do they really need to do their jobs well?”  (Yeah. This is what I think about at this time of day…not a Porsche or trip to Bali. Is there something wrong here?)

As recently as 10 years ago, the terms marketing and branding weren’t used in association with schools. That was for corporate giants like Nike, Coke, and Apple. Fast forward to 2014, and not only are marketing and branding used in private schools; they’re crucial to schools’ health and longevity. (Even the previously forbidden term “sales” is moving into the picture.)

Given the need for schools to ramp up marketing acumen rapidly after the stock drop in 2008, administrators and school heads have been scrambling to learn how to market effectively and to retain personnel who not only know marketing, but know (or can learn) marketing specifically for private schools.

In my time working with private schools, I have seen many brilliant, eager, and overworked staff members struggle with marketing and brand management. Barring a budget to hire consultants, they found it hard to acquire the expertise they needed to handle marketing challenges proactively. They had to appeal to multiple audiences with varied motivation and demographics; to get ahead of trends in a changing, technology-driven world; and to do it largely alone, since schools’ small marketing staffs leave few opportunities for the exchange of ideas among peers.

The solution? A group school marketers can call their own: an online community where they can find inspiration, education, and information while networking with their colleagues and obtaining advice from experts.

This is the lightbulb moment that became InspirED School Marketers. And it's free.

I spoke with more than 70 people and got a thumbs-up from 97% of them. Now, InspirED has been launched and is its first anniversary is coming up.

InspirED's goal is to make school marketers' jobs easier. And we all know that school marketers are not only the Director of Marketing Communications and the admissions team, but also development, alumnae/i relations, faculty and staff. Parents, alums, and the students themselves are also school marketers. InspirED speaks to all school marketers.

Sign up at InspirED to see if we spark ideas to make your job easier. We sure hope so.

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