Choosing the right school for your children is one of the most important decisions a parent will make. It can be difficult to begin the search process, and it takes some time to feel confident in the final decision.  

That’s why marketing to parents can be a challenge. The decision-making process is a long one, understandably, and the marketing relationship relies mostly on trust and reputation.  

As with any marketing strategy, the key to success lies in data, a full understanding of the audience, and an understanding of your market and competition. However, marketing independent schools to parents or guardians often means focusing on the long-term.  

There are a few key steps to ensuring you can best identify how to market to parents and build a marketing approach for success.

Know your parents 

Successful marketing means knowing and understanding your target audience as much as possible. In this case, you need to know the parents you’re targeting far more than simply identifying their demographics.  

Take the time to speak to your current parents and gather feedback from those that considered your school. You need to understand why they chose your school, specifically. What drew them to you? Perhaps there was a specific marketing message that stood out to them, or an individually identifying factor that ranked your school above the rest. Chances are, other parents out there are looking for a school just like yours. It’s the marketer's job to make sure that message is clear. 

How to market to parents

Use the identifying data from your current parents to understand the type of parent that would consider your school. Are there clear similarities in age, gender or motivations? It’s important to also consider your ideal parent, whether that rings true in your current community or not.  

All of this data will help you to understand your school's individual buyer persona, or target parent. The more you know about the person on the receiving end of your marketing, the better you can target them. Your school won’t be right for every parent, and that’s okay. Form a clear image, and ensure all marketing resonates with your specific target. 


Inclusivity is more important than ever. Student wellbeing is a clear priority for parents, but they’re also keen to feel included in the school community themselves.  

Research suggests that around 3 in 5 parents are concerned about their child’s mental health impacting them at school. It’s critical that your school shows its focus on inclusivity and openness.  

However, it’s important that this extends beyond a marketing message. To build trust and a real reputation for inclusivity, your school needs to breathe that ethos. In today’s society, with a variety of family units and individual identifications, inclusivity and representation play a key part in school life.  


As mentioned, your marketing needs to demonstrate your school’s message, not simply state it. The general public are keen to connect with their brands or organisations through their marketing. For instance, more people than ever are making purchasing decisions based on sustainability. 

While your school may not be a retail brand, the premise remains the same. You need to prove your interest in their child’s care and providing them with the best education that you can. Simply stating this information is no longer enough. Parents want to connect with schools before making their final decision. 

Authenticity is about ensuring that your words are followed by actions. This is why word-of-mouth marketing and testimonials are so vital to independent school marketing. These help your school to prove its goals and dedication to students. 

How to market to parents

You could use your marketing channels to showcase student or staff performance or get involved in local events. Take the time to understand what is important to your parents and your target audience and engage with those interests. Your existing school community is often a great resource, and you can use your reach to help charities, parents or businesses in your community as part of your school’s marketing initiatives.  

Hawai'i Preparatory Academy’s video is the perfect example of letting students shine and allowing them to lead the narrative on your school. This video showcases student’s abilities while also using authenticity to promote your school’s performance.  

Ultimately, people care about people. We connect with humans, not businesses. Real stories, whether from students, parents or teachers, should be at the heart of your school’s marketing. How is your school contributing to the community and how can you highlight the individuals that make your school the right choice?  

Pick your channels 

Knowing your parents and their driving motivations is half the battle. On a foundational level, you need to understand where they are searching for answers and where they are open to communications about your school. 

Depending on your budget, you might consider including a variety of channels in your marketing strategy, including email, social, ads and more.  

However, a targeted strategy based on interaction and engagement data pays off for schools that need to implement their budget wisely. Whether through trial and error, or directly asking your parents via surveys, consider where your parents are most likely to be searching for your school. Where will your marketing have the most impact? 

As well as finding the right channels, you also need to pay particular attention to the timing of your marketing communications to establish a connection with parents. Over-marketing could be just as detrimental as no marketing at all. Take the time to understand the best times to contact parents without overwhelming them. For instance, sending out communications during the morning rush isn’t likely to gain much engagement. But also make sure that you are offering the facilities that allow parents to find the information they need, whenever they need it.  

Build trust 

Long-term strategies are essential for marketing to parents. As mentioned, inclusivity and authenticity are key components that will help you to connect with this community. Ultimately, what this really means is that they want to trust your school before they make their applications.  

As mentioned, this is why testimonials and word-of-mouth marketing are such important approaches within a school marketing strategy. Turning your existing parents into advocates immediately boosts trust in your institution.  

However, it’s important to avoid solely relying on the word of your existing parents and students. You need other strategies to extend your reach beyond your existing community. 

How to market to parents

Inbound marketing is particularly popular in the B2B marketing space. The primary reason is that inbound marketing supports longer sales cycles. B2B marketing like this shares similarities with school marketing. Parents don’t make decisions overnight. Long term marketing builds trust and improves the reputation of your school for the future.  

Use content and search engine optimisation to relate to parent’s issues. These challenges could be directly to do with the overall admissions process, or more general problems that parent’s face. Creating valuable content and optimising your site to improve visibility of that content builds a longer lasting relationship with parents. The more impact you can have on their search for answers, the more effectively you can build a marketing relationship based on trust. 

Consider your admissions process 

Your admissions process is your opportunity to prove that your parents made the correct decision when submitting their application to your school. If your marketing has performed, it’s important not to have wasted the effort. 

Ensure that your admissions process is simple and efficient. Fully paperless is an expectation in the digital world, so you need a software that allows you to gather information quickly, easily and securely. 

iSAMS' comprehensive, cloud-based Admissions software integrates seamlessly with the MIS, ensuring that applications and registration details are processed as quickly as possible. Real-time reporting is available for each application, and the software offers a fully branded admissions portal for your school.  

If you’re interested in learning more about iSAMS Admissions, watch our demonstration here:Watch the Admissions webinar recording Sign up here