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Have you ever stopped to think who influences the students you’re trying to reach? Namely the parents.  Considering the concerns, questions, etc that a parent may have can help you discover quite a few very practical content marketing ideas.

Students are not deciding on a University experience in a vacuum.  At least in my house we worked to help our daughter make a wise decision about where she would go for undergraduate school.  Parents have a wide variety of concerns, and questions that can be answered with different types of content.  Helping a parents feel comfortable with your university is a major key to marketing success.

But how on earth are you going to reach parents, to enlist their support in persuading prospective students towards y0ur school? Here are four content marketing tips that should help:

1. Understand how parental influence works.

Parents can wield decision making influence for any number of reasons; their experience with a school, the…hey I’m paying the bill, the bribe…go here and I’ll get you a car, etc.  Regardless of the influence the parent is wielding they most likely have the students best interest at heart.

Parents likely have a whole different set of concerns about where their children will decide to attend University than the student themselves.  For example a parent may be concerned that their child attend a school in a safe environment.

The thing here is to recognize that the student is not making the decision on their own, and parents have great influence on where their children decide to apply and ultimately attend.

2. Create parental-influencer personas. 

Just as you do for primary targets (students)(you do do this…don’t you?), creating personas for key types of parental influencers  forces you to think about who they are. What’s their major concern – financial, safety, diversity?

Concentrate on the two or three most significant personas. What types of content – both topics and formats — and which delivery platforms do they prefer? You can market directly to parents this way, and you can ultimately turn them into staunch advocates for your university. My daughter a senior this year and my wife spends far more time researching online than my daughter does.

3. Create content directly aimed at parents.

Content marketing tips to reach concerned parents can be summed up into two words: custom targeting. Use online analytics to track topics and conversational patterns, to see which content and platforms are paying off in ways that match your schools strategic goals.

Try to identify parents virtual hangouts like, social media communities.  Join these communities and participate by answering questions and when appropriate point them to the content on your schools website, or blog.  Another idea is to create downloadable content aimed directly are narrow groups of parents.  For example parents concerned with crime rates.  You could publish a study of crime rates at yours and competing universities.

4. Ask Parents What It Is That They Want

There’s really no better way to get at the content that parents might be looking for than to ask them directly.  Try using a tool like Survey Monkey to ask a series of short questions.  Once you’ve collected a few hundred responses you’ll be well armed with the fire power to produce content that’s meaningful.