Strategic Marketing and Advancement Institute

History of the Strategic Marketing and Advancement Institute




"Virtually no administrator when they first chose a career in education ever imagined, much less was trained for, the responsiblity of attracting multimillions of dollars in tuition or gifts each year. Many are looking for guidance - and for colleagues facing similar issues.


The Institute isn't about teaching kids at independent schools per se, it is about raising the revenue one needs in order for there to be independent schools period. And it is the business discipline of marketing that is all about how to be successful in a marketplace.


I taught marketing at Yale for years, Kathy is an advancement pro, and we both (now very long ago!) pioneered the introduction of marketing practices to independent schools. And that's largely why the Strategic Marketing & Advancement Institute is, and has for almost two decades been, the only event of its kind. "


Jeffery T. Wack, Ph.D.


The Institute celebrates its 22nd year as the leading marketing event for leaders in admissions, communications, development, and advancement.


In 1994 the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) decided to offer an institute for school administrators on the then novel (to schools) business discipline of marketing. Heather Hoerle (then of NAIS, now president of SSATB), Kathy Hanson (then chairing NAIS's Admissions and Marketing Committee, and Jeff Wack (then professor of marketing at Yale) met in New Haven to map out the event. The inaugural Marketing Institute for Independent Schools was held in suburban Washington DC in 1996 , and was sponsored by NAIS until 2000 when we assumed responsibility for it.


The term "advancement" was added to the Institute title several years ago as some schools began to opt for that word to connote integrated marketing practices; the adjective “strategic” has been added to emphasize the Institute’s focus on marketing goals, structure, process, and strategies. The fact is, wherever the school touches a customer, it is engaged in marketing and advancing the school.


The 2-day conference (and an optional 3rd morning for an advanced social media workshop led by edSocialMedia) is intended for school leadership and administrators interested in learning how contemporary marketing (and we mean the strategic MBA-type, rather than the lay, definition of marketing as a synonym for communications tactics) can enhance the advancement of private schools.


The Institute has filled, and gone to a waitlist, by late September every year.

Join us this fall? Marketing — it is part of everyone’s job so, bring your marketing team!

Kathy Hanson and Jeff Wack
Management Institutes LLC


Check any of the following that are important to the success of your school:

  • Reputation
  • Recruiting
  • Retention
  • Relationships
  • Revenues

If you checked any of these core marketing responsibilities, you and your colleagues are invited to attend this year’s Institute.

Jenny Mayo, Director of Communications, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School

A truly amazing conference. Can't tell you all how fired up I was when I got back to school! Thanks.  

Lesley Fowler Nesbitt - Director of Marketing & Communications - Carroll School

I thoroughly enjoyed SMAI and returned to campus with a renewed sense of purpose and vision for my school. You can't often say that in the work that we do! 

Leslie W. Kovich, Director of Admission, Quest Academy

The Institute exceeded my expectations!  From admissions to websites, the Institute addressed marketing and institutional advancement for independent schools current practice, as well as how to position your school while managing to stay one step ahead in a face-paced economic and consumer market.  

Lori Kriegel - Director of Communications - Wooster School

I went there eager to learn and absorb as much as I could, and I left feeling recharged and excited about the work that I have the opportunity to do each day.

Julie Peters - Director of Admission- Canterbury School- Ft. Myers FL

I strongly recommend to all of you requesting marketing information to watch for the flyer/email notice regarding next fall's Marketing Institute and sign up for it. It will be money well spent.

DeLeslie Porch - Director of Admissions - Jackson Academy

Your Marketing & Advancement Institute has given me a great overview of the entire process from pre-inquiry to bequest.