How to Market an Education Business in Singapore

If you own a private school, learning centre, or training company in Singapore, it is essential to understand how to market an education business to increase enrolment and grow.

The education industry is one of Singapore’s potential growth sectors and plays an important role in drawing and nurturing talent from around the world. An article published by ‘Guide Me Singapore’ highlighted that there are over 1,200 private education organizations that offer a diverse mix of high-quality education services. Aside from academic education, there is also a rise in demand for enrichment, vocational and skill-based courses on a wide variety of different specialised subjects.

Education businesses in Singapore can include:

    • Schools (Public & Private Schools)
    • Tuition Centres or Tuition Agencies
    • Pre-schools
    • Online Courses
    • Universities
    • Colleges
    • Training Companies

With the consistent demand for education courses and programmes in Singapore, business owners must find a way to differentiate their offerings and brand to attract the right students.

PAIN POINTS OF MARKETING AN EDUCATION BUSINESS

As an education business owner or manager, you no doubt face various challenges and difficulties to effectively promote, market and brand your business. Here are the most common issues that education business owners face.

Difficulty in Attracting the Right Students

One of the most persistent challenges is to continually attract the right students to your school or learning centre. The right students contribute to the overall performance of the school and promote the school’s brand values and virtues.

High Competition in the Education Business

Traditionally, the education business in Singapore has been very competitive. Except for educational institutions that require Ministry of Education accreditation and strict regulatory structures, private schools, tuition centres, enrichment agencies and training companies do not require such qualifications. As such, the barriers to entry are relatively low and results in high competition. Recently, Covid-19 has forced education businesses to move their lessons online for home-based learning (HBL) which has contributed to the increase in competition in the online education space.

Difficulty in Creating Brand Awareness

Due to the nature of competitiveness in this business sector, gaining awareness from your potential students or customers might be difficult especially if you are new to the education business industry. Education business owners and managers may be unclear of what marketing tactics to invest in to promote their unique value to potential students and their parents.

Market an Education Business

THE STRATEGIC MARKETING PLAN FOR AN EDUCATION BUSINESS

When it comes to marketing an education business, just like any commercial enterprise, it is essential to craft a marketing strategy before implementing marketing tactics. It is always strategy before tactics. A well-thought-out strategy identifies the right marketing tactics to employ.

Here is a four-step strategic marketing plan to get you started to effectively promote your education business in Singapore.

Identify & Attract the Right Students

One of the most essential marketing fundamentals is having a clear understanding of who your ideal student is. Identifying the right students for your school will allow you to better match programmes to students who will find value in your offerings. Identifying the right students will also better understand their collective needs, challenges they face and cater to their specific education goals.

An article published by Wiley (2020) suggested five ways you can attract the right students:

Look For Individuals Who Show Evidence of Commitment

If you are looking for motivated prospective students, look for individuals who can demonstrate that they take responsibility for their success. One clue is to ask the prospective students about the goals that they have and the goals they have set and reached in their lives.

Highlight the Need Relevant Academic and/ or Professional Background and Skills

No two schools or learning centres are alike. Every school has its curriculum and programmes. To ensure you attract the right students, clearly state the needs and requirements of your programmes so that prospective students know exactly what they are signing up for. For example, if a course you are offering requires strong writing skills, be sure to emphasise this requirement so that the students with the right skillset enrol for the course.

Emphasize Support Resources

Highlighting your learning resources can attract students who see the value of such resources. Such tend to be resilient towards challenges and solving problems and will persevere in your programme.

Target Potential Students Who are Passionate About Gaining Skills and Learning

Students need to be engaged in their learning experience and contribute what they can. When students are too focused on meeting results, they might only do the minimum required work. However, fully engaged students will benefit from a rich and fulfilling learning experience for themselves and everyone else in the programme.

Craft the Winning Marketing Strategy

After identifying your target students and ensuring your offerings match their needs, you need to craft a marketing strategy that will differentiate your learning centre from the competition. The market competition in the education industry is very fierce and marketing strategy and brand differentiation is critical for success.

One useful framework to help craft your education business marketing strategy is to use the Marketing Inverted Pyramid.

Three sides of an upside-down pyramid represent the Marketing Inverted Pyramid. Each side represents one aspect of marketing, namely Value Creation, Communication and Brand Equity.

Each aspect represents one stage of the marketing process that lays the foundation of the business. The three sides of the Marketing Inverted Pyramid work in succession and feed back to form an infinite cycle, that guide strategy and tactics. Learn how to use the Marketing Inverted Pyramid by downloading our strategy toolkit here.

Increase Brand Authority & Awareness

One of the most important considerations that potential students factors in when choosing a school or learning centre in Singapore is the trustworthiness and credibility of the school. This is where increasing the authority of your school’s brand comes in. The stronger your authority, the more likely students will choose your school over others. Authority can be increased through:

    • Certifications, Qualifications and Accreditations
    • Historical Performance of Students
    • Social Proof in the Form of Student Testimonials
    • Notable Alumni
    • Media Features

Brand awareness can be increased by engaging in marketing as highlighted below.

Engage in Marketing

Marketing in today’s market involves a combination of both inbound and outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a strategy where you create a presence (predominantly online) to market to customers already searching for the product or service they are looking for. These customers have what is called “search intent”. A physical location that can be visited, search engine optimisation (SEO), content marketing and organic social media marketing are examples of inbound marketing as they cater to customers with search intent.

Outbound marketing is an interruptive marketing strategy where you look for customers and put your brand in front of them, even though they are not looking for a product or service that you offer. Outbound marketing includes traditional advertising, paid online advertising (Pay-per-click (PPC), physical mail drops, distribution of flyers, public roadshows in malls, search engine marketing (SEM) and display advertising), email marketing, and influencer marketing.

Business owners and managers must identify which inbound and outbound marketing efforts best fit their education business and target customer.

CERTIFIED MARKETING PROFESSIONALS FOR THE EDUCATION INDUSTRY

Managing and marketing an education business is challenging in the current competitive landscape. While there are opportunities to succeed in the industry, schools and learning centres must have the right strategic plan to approach the marketing of their business.

Evolve & Adapt is a certified strategy & digital marketing implementation consulting firm that has significant experience helping education businesses develop a positioning strategy, building authority & brand awareness and increasing leads for enrolment.

If you would like professional assistance to grow your education business, fill in the form below to learn more.

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J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 12 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics. J C holds a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse". He has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938, and Money FM 89.3.

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