Perhaps you are unsure of how to create an effective way to market your school. Perhaps the marketing strategies you’re using haven’t garnered the results you were expecting. Whatever the problem is, it’s important that you have parameters in place to ensure that your school’s core values are communicated clearly to the right demographic to establish trust through transparency, and to increase your reach and engagement.
Developing a marketing strategy
Anything worth doing well involves creating a secure strategy; a plan will allow you to identify your school’s strengths and weaknesses and the best way to formulate solutions. For example, does your school have excellent extra-curricular activities, but has a lacklustre website with outdated content? An easily accessible, mobile optimised website detailing upcoming events is an easy way to highlight your school’s accomplishments.
A targeted way to create change is by establishing who you want to appeal to, whether it be prospective parents and students, community groups or local businesses, conducting market research will give you a clearer insight into the way your school is perceived by the very group who’s perception you want to manage. Open days, focus groups, and online and offline surveys are great ways of understanding your audience’s behaviours, habits, and needs.
This is also the stage where you want to see if your current strengths align with your school’s vision. What makes your school different from other competing schools and what advantages do you have over them? Imagine you’re pitching your school to a prospective parent who’s in a rush; what can you say that clearly outlines your school’s mission and why they should consider your school above everyone else’s?
Trying to implement change without a marketing strategy – a process that will give you insight into your target audience, their perception of your school as well as establishing where your strengths are and if it aligns with your school’s vision and mission statement- can lead to costly mistakes.
Getting the necessary staff involved in brainstorming ideas for change is a good start, but you want to make sure that you have clearly defined goals as opposed to an assortment of ideas and campaigns that deviate from your outlined objectives. The best way to do this is to follow the evidence you’ve gained from your market research; if a high percentage of parents see themselves as active members of the community, leaving marketing brochures and information packs at relevant spaces such as libraries, and bulletin boards at local supermarkets will expand your reach.
Similarly, contacting newspapers about school events and can increase awareness of your school, but only if you’re contacting the right publications (the ones most likely to be seen by your target group) with the right type of journalists with relevant, personalised stories during pertinent times. This can all be done by keeping a keen eye on changing trends.
Another cost-effective way of marketing your school is by harnessing social media as a tool for engagement with your demographic.
Social media allows you to extend your reach and maximise engagement. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be used as a tool to increase awareness of your school, provide transparency, and instil trust.
Let’s say your school has to close an hour early on a Friday for a quarterly meeting. While this is likely to make younger pupils happy, parents are only aware of a disruption to their routine; it might mean getting off from work earlier or organising for someone else to pick up their child. The same scenario this time harnessing the power of a Facebook and Twitter page transforms parents and prospective parents perception by making them aware what’s to be discussed and later, subsequent changes that will positively affect the quality of their child’s educational experience.
In the same vein as a website, social media platforms with frequent updates and good quality photos will help you highlight your students (with permission granted) and key events. Where social media platforms differ is that it provides a direct line between you and your target audience, the things they like and the things they don’t like
Used correctly, social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can be used to as an online brochure and bulletin board rolled into one while connecting and elevating engagement with your key demographic by making them feel more involved.