In order to launch a successful education PR or marketing strategy, you need to have a deep understanding of the people you want to reach and influence: your education stakeholders.
To get to know your stakeholders, you’ll need to conduct both internal and external research. Through this process, you’ll create a set of stakeholder profiles that can guide your marketing and PR efforts going forward.
Research and identify your education stakeholders
First, ask yourself: who are your stakeholders?
Unless your education organization is new, you should have some history to draw on to identify who has the most impact on advancing your education organization’s mission. Start by going over your past work and interactions and talking to both your marketing and sales team (if you have them) for insights.
Ask yourself and your team the following questions:
- Who benefits from our products or services?
- Who usually asks about our offerings? What needs have they expressed?
- Do we often receive referrals? Who makes them?
- Who do we have to talk to during the sales process?
- Who is the decisionmaker when our product or service is purchased? Who else influences that decision?
- When sales aren’t made, who stops them?
If your organization has strong relationships with current clients, you can even interview them to learn more. Ask why they were drawn to your organization, what hesitations they had and what ultimately led them to choose you. Their answers can teach you about common needs your audience may share.
After fact-finding internally, you’ll need to broaden the scope of your research. Begin with your competitors. Take a look at their digital and traditional marketing. Who are they targeting? What audiences are they speaking to in their messaging strategy?
Then, do some further digging. Look for social media groups where education stakeholders discuss their challenges and solutions. Try participating in a few of the many education Twitter chats, or reading what your relevant connections in the education space post on LinkedIn. You’ll also want to consult traditional media to see what education reporters have to say about the trends that impact your audience, and look for any relevant research that’s been done on your stakeholders’ needs.
You can use the stakeholder priority scorecard from our education stakeholder worksheet to organize your findings. This scorecard will guide you as you identify stakeholders and weigh each one’s receptivity to marketing messages, influence within their organization and potential to impact your success. Each of these factors will help you choose where to focus your marketing efforts.
Build stakeholder profiles
At Prosper, we use an education stakeholder profile template to organize our findings on our stakeholders. Each stakeholder profile is a fictional member of a specific group of stakeholders we’re trying to reach. For example, you might profile “Superintendent Sarah,” “Student Steve” and “School Board Member Sam.” You should create one profile for each stakeholder group you’ve determined to be a priority.
Our stakeholder profile template will guide you with questions like “Where does he or she get his or her information?” and “Who does he or she consult when making buying decisions?” As you answer each question, a fuller picture of your audience will emerge. These profiles will be valuable assets to revisit as you create and implement your marketing plan.Successful marketing messaging relies on the research and development of key stakeholder profiles Click To Tweet
Use your education stakeholders in your marketing
Keep these stakeholder profiles beside you as you create the rest of your marketing strategy. Begin by drafting key messages — short distillations of the reasons why your stakeholders should consider your products or services. Crafting a set of key messages will help you tailor your marketing to your stakeholders’ needs, rather than using the same language or promoting the same aspects of your brand across the board. These specific messages will resonate better and more effectively with your audience.
As you work on your marketing plan, regularly reference these education stakeholder profiles and the accompanying key messages to ensure you plan the content your stakeholders need and distribute it across the channels where they are active.
Need help identifying your education organization’s key stakeholders?
Our Stakeholder Profile Worksheets will help you create stakeholder profiles and tailor your marketing messaging to the people that matter most to your organization. Begin building your stakeholder profiles today.