Should we freeze our ad budgets?

Here is why private schools should not.

During this pandemic, when Fall 2020 admissions are at stake, independent schools should follow the data.

Based on consumer insights, schools should not hide but come forth with strong marketing that is emblematic of their positive response to the pandemic and their community. Yet, many second guess the wisdom of advertising during a looming recession.

History shows that in a recession, fortune favors the bold.

The recession recovering abilities of top-ranking brands, the brands we all know from their media muscle, have time and again outperformed the market by multitudes. And they recover from a recession about 4 times as quickly!

After the 2008 recession, strong brands recovered their value within a year while the market indexes had an uphill battle of approximately 4 years to recovery.

Investors (many of whom are the parents of students in private schools) are optimistic.

Economically, April was bleak. While consumer confidence will surely take a hit in the coming months, investors are showing confidence that the economy will pick back up.

The S&P 500 surged 13% in April—the best performance since 1987.

“The rally, even in the face of crushing economic data, highlights investors’ confidence that things will return to normal sooner than they thought when stocks were collapsing in late February and early March.” (1)

But is it a bull or bear market for independent schools?

My crystal ball is not that good. I do think private schools can benefit greatly by watching the business world.

The 2020–2021 school year could actually be a huge year for independent school admissions. Some families may be experiencing financial stress, so financial assistance is critical. This is an excellent time to plan for an aggressive but temporary restructuring of the school’s financial aid targets.

Parents are not happy with public schools and their handling of the pandemic. My crystal ball says that a number of parents who had not previously been interested in a private school will be moving to one this fall.

Maintaining a strong ad presence will be key to winning this coveted and newly-receptive demographic. I wrote about these families a few weeks ago in The Advancement Antivirus.

Key takeaway: If an independent school is in the position to maintain its advertising budget, indicators are supportive that it will pay off.