Although marketing is a term you would most likely associate with business, it certainly holds a significant place in the success of educational institutions also. School marketing then, can be one of those things that we fail to consider, and therefore, lacks priority when it comes to solid recruitment of staff, encouraging high admission numbers, and forming meaningful relationships with parents. In this blog, we take a look at the significance of marketing in education and why this is so essential to the success of schools moving forward.
Before we begin to explore how to effectively market your school, it is crucial that we identify our purpose for doing so, and how this will have a direct impact on how our school is established. Once we address these initial questions, we can begin to consider how we can achieve our specific goals and objectives. There are a huge range of reasons why marketing your school can be an effective practice, but we’ll take a look at some of these later on.
Once our purpose and targets are outlined into achievable, practical, and proactive steps, we can build these into our overall plan, which will then enable us to identify our personal and holistic priorities, acknowledge specific areas that need improvement and highlight the strengths areas we can capitalise upon. For this to be even more effective, we must consider exacting an honest self-assessment of the facility, and the models we employ.
So, why do we need to do this?
There are many reasons why a school should make marketing a priority, especially in the current educational climate. It’s important to note, that solid marketing is about taking command of what we can do to effectively shape the direction we aim to take. This should always be approached from a positive perspective, and by endeavouring to plan meticulously and execute each step with the efforts required to make the process a success, then the achievements you so desire, are sure to become a reality.
This will, of course, require us to outline a recognisable identity, with strong values and ethos, and combining this with a range of effective strategies to communicate your overall message. This, as a result, will have a positive impact upon your overall reputation as a school, and make your message more inclusive and digestible for prospective students, parents and staff.
Attracting high-quality teachers and staff members
When setting out to develop a consistently high quality of teaching and learning, we have to think about what actually attracts a teacher to apply for the roles we have advertised. When a teacher is looking to move, it is often to aide them in their search for further opportunities for progression and professional development. So, with this in mind, we need to make sure that our marketing strategies are well thought out and this then, will communicate that your school is forward thinking, and is able to create successful opportunities for teachers to achieve their own personal goals. It is important to remember that when prospective parents are seeking places, their main focus will align itself with how successful a school’s academic achievements are. By attracting high-quality teaching and learning, you are sure to beat the competition when it comes to filling places.
With parents in mind, we should always consider their significance when it comes to the success of any educational institution. Competition presents an increasing number of challenges, and we must attract interest from prospective parents from the starting point. So, how do we do that? Firstly, our message and the content that we create must be accessible to all, encourage inclusivity, and enable parents to engage with what we are essentially communicating.
So, it is how we package information. For example, not every parent you are targetting is going to have the time to read through longer forms of content on your website. We have to consider that our target audience is diverse, and not everybody has the same amount of time available to them, what with shift patterns, long working hours, and the increasing amount of distractions available to us, you have to realise that you are not simply competing with other schools within your area, you are competing for attention. Twinkl Hive Company offers an amazing tool in their, Learning Ladders resource to help with parent communication.
For those parents who lack the time necessary to read through your web page content, analyse your prospectus, and attend open days, there are many things we can do to attract their attention. Why not tap into social media, for example? A well-planned, and well thought out social media campaign, could potentially transform your communication into more digestible chunks, increase your web presence and get your message across efficiently and effectively.
How can we effectively market our school?
Comments from Honeycomb Search, Twinkl’s marketing experts:
“Of course, a school’s primary concern will always be nurturing the children within it – but an effective schools’ marketing strategy equips headteachers with the tools needed to maximise this development. It has all the benefits of a traditional business marketing strategy – driving growth (in this case, pupil numbers and exam results), boosting stakeholder (parent) engagement, and all the positive PR that comes hand in hand with these factors. A great marketing strategy for a school will keep parents impressed and engaged – and parental engagement at home has been shown to be one of the key factors influencing children’s performance at school. And then as academic performance improves, this can act as a catalyst for further marketing – and it’s this snowball effect that makes school marketing so valuable.”
Let’s take a look at some of the strategies that you can employ to effectively market your school:
Your school website should always be your first port of call when it comes to sharing information about your school with your wider community. With this in mind, you will need to make sure that the website you have, shines a positive light upon what your school has to offer, and encapsulates the positive learning culture that your school embodies. For this to be most effective, you should highlight both your academic achievements, and your strengths and this should reflect how you communicate your vision for the establishment going forward.
It can always be useful to include a link to your admissions page, that is easy to identify, making the user journey more practical and therefore, enabling them to navigate to what matters most, quickly and easily. Why not add a form to this page, too? Perfect for broadening your mailing list, which means you can send specific information out directly to the people who need to read it. It will also make your calls to action a smoother process, as you can include specific deadlines and reminders about the application process.
SEO (search engine optimisation) is essentially the process of improving your site visibility and increasing the amount of traffic you obtain when it comes to directing your target audience to specific pieces of content. Although, often overlooked by schools, due to lack of time and resources, capitalising upon what people are actually searching for through Google, Bing and other search engines can have a huge impact on spreading your message wider. The more visible your page when a search term is typed in, the more likely you are to gain attention and attract students, parents and staff.
It’s important to note, that by implementing a strong SEO strategy into your marketing plan, you are more likely to compete effectively, as school’s now have an increased need to survive digitally, as well.
Creating a blog on your school website is great for communicating a variety of ideas and adds personality to the brand that your school is continuing to create. This versatile approach, can incorporate a variety of speakers, and elevate the importance of giving a voice to your community. You could provide effective tips from classroom teachers, provide significant updates via your senior leadership team, or even give students an opportunity to blog about their experiences. Although this particular strategy might not be as effective as those previously explored, it is a great springboard for aligning your school with the stories you want to tell.
Social media is one of the most effective ways to communicate messages these days, and if you haven’t yet considered incorporating this into your marketing strategy, then you certainly should. Your target audience will surely invest time in social media, as it is easy to consume, and is flexible when it comes to the amount of time that they have.
Obviously creating a page for your school, if you haven’t already done so, and posting relevant and engaging content is a good start, social media is also a cost-effective way of advertising your services. This is definitely worth a look.
In the modern age, video content gets lots of attention. Consider creating content relating to your over-arching message, and begin increasing engagement by posting to social media. This way, more people are sure to see it, and therefore, you can reach a wider audience as a result.
This of course takes time and resources, but with the way social media is going, there are plenty of ways that you can shoot high-quality campaigns at a lower price, or even free in some cases.
Another great way to obtain a broader range of exposure to your school is to inform them about what’s going on, and what you consider to be important through effective communicative channels.
You can do this in a number of ways, but make sure to regularly obtain advertising spots on local newspapers and magazines, outreach to related websites and enquire into creating content on their site.
This way, when people communicate about your school, you will already have embedded positive associations, as they may already have seen you appearing in a positive way online. It will also, decrease the gap between school and prospective parents as they will already feel as if they know you, and will understand the personality behind the services you provide to the children in your area.
Although a lot of marketing these days now takes place online, that does not mean we cannot exploit some of the avenues available to us offline.
Get together with your team and identify what makes your school unique, and what achievements are worth sharing with your target audience. Create engaging signage and banners that can be used on school gates and the buildings around the property. These could include your school’s latest SATs or GCSE results or your most recent Ofsted inspection grading. You will no doubt (dependent upon where your building is located and situated) have thousands of passersby, and when it is done well, i.e colourful, on brand, and large font advertising, you are sure to get people talking about how well your school is doing.
Key things to consider when putting together your marketing plan
It is important to remember, that with digital presence being so significant in how we communicate, parents’ expectations of what a school can offer or provide, is higher than ever. This means, meeting those expectations is becoming more challenging. It is crucial then that we become flexible and adapt to the needs of our target audience, and communicate with them through the channels they are most likely to use.
Whether you use all of the ideas in this blog, or just some of them, make sure that your marketing plan is clear, concise and focuses on how to communicate your overall message both efficiently and effectively, for success.