Diversity is the word when looking back to what I lived in the past few weeks

When I decided to study in an internationally known university like McGill, to learn Digital Marketing, I thought about all the diversity and multiculturalism I could meet with my classmates. That was exactly what happened, I had to work in group for about 4 weeks and it definitely was a very rich experience!

At McGill, international students like me are around 27% of the student’s population, more then 10 thousand! When it comes to my marketing and communication skills, having this diverse experience helped me be more open to new points of view and the day by day at class, listening to other experiences brought lots of references for future works and strategies.

D’accord!

For one month I had to work closely with two of my classmates, both from France. At first I was afraid of the language challenge – English is not the native language for the three of us – and if that would be an obstacle to understand each other. Turns out that, with a little extra effort and common commitment, everything was just fine.

One other aspect I thought about working for the final assignment in group was the opportunity to see how different cultures do marketing. Would it be too different of how I do? Not in fact. I felt that the process of developing a strategy has some standards creative procedures and flows on its way, regarding our nationality.

The business and the target of the assignment was also related to diversity: a German School, in Montreal, ready to welcome students from all over the word! We developed a strategy based on three buyer personas with characteristics in common, but yet, very diverse couples, once the school has as one of its targets new immigrants in the city.

Diversify and grow

In a post at Forbes website, from 2011 (which remains very valid for the present day) about diversity management, we can find some notes about how it is important to grow a business. I personally believe that in a digital interconnected world it is indispensable.

Multicultural teams can build embracing brands. I’ve could learn it in class, while developing the strategies for my final assignment, with two French classmates and that’s why I can affirm that all the diversity I experienced during this period was unique to grow me as a professional.

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Putting a German international school on Montreal’s map

Digital strategy for a unique West Island private school

On the westernmost parts of Montreal’s West Island nests a hidden gem, a school where students graduate speaking German, English and French. Like most Montrealers, I’m sure, I didn’t know about it until recently. But here I am now, quite smitten with it and tackling the challenge of its digital strategy with two other teammates.

photo2Like other Montreal private schools, Alexander Von Humboldt – Montreal (AVH) has strong teaching methods, a caring community, well-rounded graduates who make it to top international universities and… a marketing department that’s a very busy team of one working with a small budget.

Other features are quite unique. Located in Baie d’Urfé, AVH is out of reach for most students living outside the Western part of the Greater Montreal Area. And German, of course, is an intimidating language for Canadians, who rarely have the chance to get acquainted with it.

Designing an effective, yet feasible strategy

The foundation for our digital strategy is AVH’s business goal: increasing its student body by 10% and reaching a total of 330 pupils.

Now how do we that with such limited resources? That’s where SMART goals come into play as they ground the digital strategy in reality.

For example, AVH’s Open House calendar provides a perfect opportunity to design attainable and realistic time-bound goals. The event happens twice a year, is designed to attract people and directly tied to enrolment. In our presentation, we’ll skip the upcoming open house of February, as it is too close, and aim for the one in October. After that, we suggest that the goals have a reasonable six-month timeframe.

Building strong personas to create powerful messaging

AVH knows its target audience well. Whether they are Germanophones or not, the parents earn enough money to afford the tuition, are usually university educated, and are looking for a safe environment, with a strong interest in bilingual education.

Personas help us adapt the messaging to the various pockets of that target audience.

The potential for growth in student numbers lies in parents who might not be receptive to messaging focusing on German culture and the German school curriculum.

The non-Germanophone immigrants will respond strongly to posts centering science and multilingualism, highlighting the competitive universities AVH graduates go on to attend. They will also notice a subtle reference to the opportunity to bypass Law 101 and make sure that their children speak perfect English.

Reaching this persona doesn’t involve constantly selling the school in its digital communication. It is more about celebrating AVH’s multicultural environment, for example, and sharing success stories, student profiles, or teachers’ personal tips on multilingual education – readily available content for the marketing department.

With a digital strategy carefully tailored to the school’s means, targeted messaging can really help fuel interest and sustain the effort to increase enrolment. A unique, endearing school, AVH has the resources to stand out in the Montreal private school landscape.

Social Media Marketing To Reading People

 


A real challenge in marketing project

In recent years, when people talking about social media marketing, the typical case pop up there might be selling millions of lipsticks in hours by choosing a right ‘Influencer’. But the whole point of marketing is still to create the impulsion of purchasing, that won’t change… Is it? What if your target audience are not that impulsive?

Carry on the ‘Words of Mouth’

Meet our mandator: AVH, The Alexander von Humboldt German International School Montreal, a multilingual–German, French and English—private, co-educational school serving students from preschool to grade 12.

The client’s all present profile pictures an excellent private school equipped advanced science lab, fancy gym, safe environment, family atmosphere…in one word, a perfect choice need to be found by ambitious parents, OUTSIDE the German community. Because for decades, they have already possessed high reputation within their German folks, by so-called ‘words of mouth’.

Thus, the principal post their objective to us: Position AvH as an option for non-German families looking for quality education in Montreal, on social media.

According to their input in facilities and faculties, It was not that difficult to fix the target audiences: The young couples at the age of 30 to 45, with the children between 2 years old to 5, who had achieved success (annual income: 100.000$ plus) and moved to the suburb; at least bilingual with strong academic background.

In short, they are very cultivated. They read a lot but amuse less on social media, perhaps are the most rational species online. And we are supposed to sell them their kids’ education options.

So after we know who they are, the second task was to meet them at the right place. Finally, we narrowed down the channel on 3 platforms: Facebook for general school life celebrating; Twitter mostly for attracting Dads; and Instagram to draw moms’ attention.

Find THE Words

The last not the least thing is to find the right language: more info, less selling. Feed them the ‘big data’ for their favorite job, the research. But there was something missing.

While I actually open a new document for the content, I realized that we still have to respect the character of social media platform: the engaging. No one is 100% rational. Our audience, the parents, still need to be moved. So I went on the analyzing work to study the audience’s media habits, read the articles on the school’s homepage introducing their pedagogy methods… and I lost.

The big idea finally came from the case study of another old brand private school. To find the words for refreshing their image, the board agreed to invite hundreds of teachers, parents and alumni gathering in the school gym, to talk and write down their memory or impression of their school life. They contributed a gold mine for the school’s marketing plan.

This is the most authentic marketing approach I have ever heard. It clearly shows that THE works for marketing is still deep in your own value. And the previous buyers would tell you the way of telling the words. That is one thing never change in marketing, today or the future.

Student: Xin YU

 

Are you a school marketer?

Need some inspiration for your Social Media?

Following a Content Creation course at McGill, I have been recently working on the social media strategy of a renowned co-educational school in Montreal.

You might think social media is a piece of cake and that with a few posts, the job is done. But will this really be enough to attract new students to your school and reach your business goals?

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As digital marketing is getting more and more complex and time-consuming, you should prepare your strategy in order to increase chances of success and reduce your frustration.

Here are my 5 favourite tips:

  1. Strategy first!

Before starting off with posting, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your specific context?
  • What are your aims/overall goals? (e.g. generating leads? Improving your reputation?)
  • Which strategy will you adopt to reach this aim?
  • Which objectives will you define to measure your actions? Be sure they are SMART objectives.
  1. Choose your battle

You might be tempted to be present on all famous platforms. Choose the one(s) where your audience is and stick to it. In our case it turned out that Twitter and Facebook were the way to go.

  1. Go the extra mile

It might seem like overkill to you, but before creating content, it will be essential that you define your audience. Whom am I talking to?

Buyer Personas” – fictional, generalized representations of your customers – are an important concept to help you better define your ideal customer. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation and make your Social Media Strategy successful.

  1. Prepare your content (concise, compelling, clear & correct)

Now that you know how, where and who, you will have to decide on WHAT you will share. Remember that selling is secondary on Social Media. Your aim is to position yourself as a thought-leader by providing interesting and useful content to your audience. If you don’t have time to write a weekly blog, you might want to follow other thought-leaders and share their content. Don’t forget to use relevant hash-tags on your posts to increase your visibility.

  1. Repeat

Social Media is full of repetitions. That’s the secret behind the whole buzz. So don’t hesitate to repost your content. Especially if you did not get the engagement you expected the first time.

And now it’s your turn! Hope this blog gave you some interesting inspiration to improve your social media strategy.

 

 

 

Less is more: how to focus your content strategy for better results

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A few weeks ago, I returned from a much needed vacation in which I consciously decided to unplug from the digital word.

When I fired up the social applications on my phone after my mini detox, it was a shock.

There’s a lot of noise on social media. A LOT.

And because of that, it has become increasingly difficult for smaller players to grab attention in a landscape that’s growing busier and busier by the day. So how can you set yourself apart from the competition? In one word: quality.

 

The AvH case

Are you familiar with the Alexander von Humboldt German International School in Montreal? That’s ok, most people aren’t. And why would they? Education can be a very specific or broad field and for a private school such as AvH, it can be a very competitive space.

In order to form a content strategy best suited for them, the first step was to collect as much information as possible. When they first presented their goal of increasing enrolment as part of a class project at McGill university, it became clear that resources and time was the main obstacle when it came to executing a content strategy.

 

Targeting your audience

Now that the goal was clear, the first step undertaken by my working group of three was to determine who to target. We were immediately faced with the burden of having too many persona options. We finally got our list down to three:

-Families of German Heritage
-Families with International Background
-Famillies with no German heritage

While all these targets where viable, in order to get the most results out of our efforts, we decided to focus on Famillies that didn’t have a German heritage based on the criterias we attached to their persona.

Targeting the appropriate social channels

Higher returns doesn’t necessarily equate to higher volume. This is especially true in today’s social media landscape. Given the limited resources, a targeted approach seemed even more necessary. Which is why we decided to go where the target audience was, which in this case meant Facebook and Instagram.

With Facebook, the possibilities of targeting and boosting reach to the desired audience with compelling content catered to the audience was exactly what was required. A portion of the marketing budget was already being spent on ads in local newspapers, casting a wide net, but with no specific audience metrics other than location.

The reallocation of budget towards Facebook, allows for a more specific targeting approach and better chance at conversion down the line due to an increase in the quality of interested readers.

With Instagram, sharing user generated content can serve to simply increase brand awareness while limiting stress on resources.

I could go on and on about the benefits of a targeted strategy, but the interest of ‘less is more’, I will leave it at that and return to my noisy Twitter feed.

5 Benefits of Teamwork

                                                                                Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

When a prof mentions a teamwork final project in digital marketing, everyone in class groans.  Teamwork in high school and even college was never fun.   Fast-forward to teamwork as adults.  Is it any better?

Personality conflicts, ego, and age

Tempers flaring.  People trying to get their way.  Nope.  None of that.    We discussed every item from Buyer Persona to Strategy and it was done with calmness, respect and idea-building.   Mature adults appear to have better listening skills; each person waits their turn to speak.   It seems that when egos aren’t present, the real thinking happens.

Psychologist Tim Elmore writes “…this generation of kids is advanced intellectually but behind emotionally.”   Adults don’t seem to project the same arrogance or anxiety of young students.

Different perspective

My team was made up of three people, from 3 different countries, who have all moved and worked around the globe.  This International team of points of view, experience, and perspective was invaluable as an educational experience.  We all brought something different to the discussion as we developed and created a story for our social media content.

Knowledge Building and Creativity

Working together as a team brings out numerous strengths and talents of each person.  This makes for interesting discussions where idea-building grows, and each person can learn from the group.  When three minds work together on a project, creativity flows.  Imagine 1 brain x 3.  That’s a LOT of knowledge!  The ideas bouncing around the table are thought-provoking, intelligent, and have the potential to be more innovative then working alone.

Patience and Communication

Oops!  Lost in translation.

As I mentioned, each of us was from three different countries.  This made for some interesting conversation, but also took some patience as each of us tried to get the others to understand what we were trying to express.  Sometimes humorous.  Sometimes frustrating.  Always fun.

Lighter Workload

The best part of creating as a team is that work is shared between all collaborators.  This makes for a lighter workload for everybody.  Sure, we had to find time to meet.  But the actual time it took to develop a marketing strategy seems to be lessened.  Or, maybe, it’s because time flew as we were getting to know some interesting people.

Whatever your project, working as a group has tangible benefits.  My only hope is that if you find yourself in this situation, you are as lucky as I was to be partnered with a terrific team.  If not, think of all the great things you’ll learn about what not to do!