We can’t quite believe that it's September and a new academic year is already well underway! We’ve previously written about a fantastic method to plan all of your marketing activity for the year using the SOSTAC® model, but we know how precious time is and if you haven’t managed to look at your marketing activity for the 2020/21 Academic year, we thought we’d share our top 5 back to school marketing tips that will help you on your way...
1. Update your Social Media accounts
If you’re not already active on social channels, a new academic year is a fantastic opportunity to really increase communication and engagement with parents and key stakeholders. Social media has been around for a long time and it certainly isn’t going anywhere soon and with so many parents’ active users of social media, it is a cost effective, efficient way of updating parents about what is happening at the school which helps to provide a sense of inclusion for parents.
You can download our blank social media schedule for October here; which allows you to pre plan your posts in one document. You can also use free tools such as Hootsuite to schedule, in advance, up to 10 posts at a time to 3 accounts (e.g. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram)– meaning you continue to keep your pages up to date, without needing to log in to various different social media accounts each day.
If you’re already active on Twitter and Facebook, then September is a great time to refresh the look of your social pages. Social page headers can be a great space to promote key events or messages or simply updating the photos regularly makes your pages look more engaging to the community!
2. Make sure your website is up to date
Your school website is the first place both current and prospective parents will look to find information on your school – especially those who have children who have recently just started secondary school in Year 7.
Now is the perfect time to review your current website and make sure that the information on there is up to date and relevant to parents and stakeholders. Some tips to consider include:
Updating the images to give the site a fresh feel
Making sure the calendar is up to date with key events throughout the new year
Archiving last year’s newsletters and letters home
Uploading new newsletters and letters home regularly
Making sure links to important information are prominent on the homepage so parents can find everything easily
Making sure your website is responsive and can be viewed perfectly on mobile devices – meaning parents and other stakeholders can access information easily on the go!
Ensure your policies are updated and in line with current requirements
Keeping your website up to date is a really easy way of keeping parents informed at all times and if all key information is found online, your reception staff should receive fewer calls and emails from parents requesting this information and can concentrate on other elements of their roles!
3. Create a newsletter
A well written newsletter can be a powerful tool in developing and maintaining good communication channels between the school, parents, pupils and the community. In the fast-paced world that we live in, it is easy for stakeholders to be unaware of what is happening in and around school. A newsletter helps to create a community feel – and it doesn’t have to be an expensive process. Agencies like us, can create digital newsletter templates that staff update on a monthly or termly basis. Uploaded to your website and emailed out to parents can have a positive impact on what the school is trying to achieve; whether that is fundraising, help and support or simply to keep parents informed on amazing enrichment programmes the school has been doing.
4. Refresh your displays
Just as the pupils are heading back to school in their fresh uniforms with positive attitudes (we hope!) ready for the year ahead, it is a great time to refresh the displays around the school! Stunning displays of striking photography, the school’s logo and school values are a simple and effective way to transform your school. Not only a brilliant way to brighten reception and create a fantastic first impression for visitors, research also shows that inspiring displays can have a huge impact on both teachers and students.
5. Think ahead!
September is a time for welcoming new students and looking ahead to open evenings for the Autumn term, right? Yes, kind of…! In fact, we always recommend to our clients to start thinking about next year... now! It may seem far ahead, but for the hard work you put in now, you’ll reap the rewards later! You certainly should be focusing your marketing efforts at the current year 6 students and their parents, but we wholly recommend having a simultaneous marketing plan for the year 5 students too! Once applications for 2021 intake is over, exam season takes hold and before you know it…summer will be here again and by that time, it can all be too late. Open Evenings are around the corner and how many parents have you communicated your strengths to? Who knows when your open evening is? You need to get in front of Year 5 pupils and their parents before they’re even thinking about secondary school! Regular contact with pupils from Year 5 will most definitely put your school as a front runner when parents start thinking about their child’s secondary education options.