Education Marketing and Advancement

Objectivity, transparency, and a collaborative spirit

Mike Connor


Mike Connor is co-author of the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) book, Marketing Independent Schools in the 21st Century. His white paper, It’s What’s Inside That Counts: Maximizing Internal Marketing, has been digitally published by NAIS and many state, regional, provincial, and international independent school associations. Connor Associates Strategic Services, LLC has worked with over 450 independent, faith-based, and charter schools in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia since 1998.

Connor earned an M.A. in Political Behaviour from the University of Essex, England and has since spent nearly 30 years in public, charter, and independent K-12 schools and colleges. He has a 360° perspective from a variety of positions.  Prior to founding Connor Associates, he was an experienced teacher, counselor, academic dean, admission director, development director, director of communications, and director of advancement.

With 22 employees. researchers, and strategic partners across the United States and work spanning four continents, Connor Associates is widely known and respected.  The latest service added helps Schools expand their admission funnel using consumer data.  Connor is an expert in predictive psychodemographic modeling to identify and enroll mission-appropriate full- or near-full pay families (or other populations the school wants to increase), and five-year forecasting of demographic trends which enable schools to "skate to where the puck is heading" in order to secure and diversify the composition of their enrollment for years to come. 

Traditional services that go back to the company’s founding 20 years ago include internal image audits and marketing / admission assessments, confidential external perceptual (image) audits and alumni surveys, enhancing communication of value, brand and website development, outcomes based messaging, forensic financial research, strategic planning, and his engaging faculty/trustee workshops that result in getting the entire school community involved in raising enrollment, retention, and philanthropy.

Connor has presented sessions and workshops nearly every year over the past two decades at national and international conferences. He was the keynote speaker at the national Educational Records Bureau (ERB) Conference in San Diego in October 2012 and keynote speaker at the national 2013 Conference for the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals (AISAP) in Nashville, TN.

In October 2014 and 2015 he was a special preconference presenter at the International Leadership Conference for the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS) in Bangkok, Thailand, and Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. 

Connor was also the keynote speaker for the MISBO / FISBO Conference (independent school business officers) in April, 2015 in Boca Raton, Florida, and in October 2016 delivered the keynote at the Association of Colorado Independent Schools’ Head and Trustee Conference.

In January 2017, he delivered a full-day advancement, enrollment, and retention management workshop in Bangkok for 70 of Thailand’s 139 International Schools. In April and November 2017 the Virginia and North Carolina Associations of Independent Schools hosted him for a similar full day workshop for their trustees, heads, and admission, development, communications, and marketing directors.  

In addition to NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools), ERB, and AISAP, his sessions and workshops have been featured at more than 70 conferences to date, including the European Council of Schools (ECIS), The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), the Enrollment Management Association (formerly SSATB), Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education (PEJE), and at conferences and meetings of various international, state and regional Associations of Independent Schools, including those in South Africa, the Pacific Northwest, Central States, California, New England, Pennsylvania, Delaware Valley, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Southwest, Maryland, and St. Louis.

His articles on strategic planning, integrated marketing, and international programs have appeared in CASE Currents and Independent School magazine. His work establishing the first international exchange program between private boarding schools in China and the United States earned the attention of the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Education Week.

Watch Connor Describe the 6 Elements of Identity and Branding in this short video: