The advancements in technology over the past few years have been so vast that we’ve now become accustomed to a life immersed in digital tech. The line between reality and the ‘digital world’ has become somewhat blurred, with people checking their smart phones, on average, every 12 minutes and making at least 4 Google searches for information every day. So with most of us spending hours online each day, it’s no surprise that there has been a huge shift for marketers to focus their efforts (and budgets) on the digital landscape to reach and engage with their target audience... but is this what we should always be doing? Or just what we think we should be doing?
Rewind five years and the term ‘marketing’ wasn’t widely used throughout schools. Schools no longer had to produce a printed prospectus by law and instead, all statutory information was to be published online, which worked out well when education budgets took such a severe hit! Everything was going digital and schools could save money. Many took the view that ‘local children needed to attend a local school’ - and that was that. However, just as technology has changed, so has our school system.
The average parent now has between three to four schools to choose from when deciding on their child’s secondary education and an increase in choice naturally leads to an increase in competition for pupil places. This means that schools must positively communicate their strengths and qualities to prospective parents in the hope they are selected as the first school of choice and subsequently, fill all of their available student places. It is no secret that the allocation of funding is on a per pupil basis, so student recruitment has become a high priority.
In order to recruit more pupils, many schools have been investing in their marketing and communications; websites typically have a slick design with striking photography, are easy to navigate, and kept up to date with information. Social media channels are updated daily and some schools are actively using email campaigns.
This is all great but is this digital approach enough to recruit more pupils?
We know what you’re thinking – surely parents will search the internet to find information on local schools and come across the school website? We have no doubt that they will do this, but when competition is high; the key to pupil recruitment is to actively market the school to prospective parents and students before they’re making the decision on secondary school options.
How do you do this?
“Go to them...don’t wait for them to come to you!”
This is why we believe a professionally printed prospectus brochure is such an important aspect of a schools marketing strategy.
We recommend that all of our clients arrange for prospectus brochures to be distributed to feeder primary schools and sent home with Year 5 children, after the Easter holidays. With the deadline for applying to secondary schools set for the Autumn of Year 6 – April/May is typically way before prospective parents would research into local secondary schools, so by putting your marketing materials in front of them early, you will trigger the thought process of most parents and hopefully, with your brochure in their hands, you’d be their first consideration.
Another consideration is that for choosing their children’s future education pathway is a big decision for parents, which is typically made together, as a family. If your school opts for a digital brochure or decides not to produce a school prospectus brochure at all, it could mean that your school misses out when families gather to look through brochures. A printed brochure gives prospective parents the information they require at their fingertips, without them having to go online and search your website.
The design of a prospectus also plays a big part in your marketing. Gone are the days where a brochure needs to contain pages and pages of statutory information, which means that a prospectus has become more of a sales brochure - with powerful photography of students and facilities, combined with carefully crafted content focused on the schools’ strengths.
Now, we understand that education budgets are stretched but it is important to remember that these materials are designed to attract prospective parents and pupils, so your brand and image are crucial investments when thinking about student recruitment for the new academic year. It also doesn’t require a huge budget to have a professionally designed and printed prospectus; you only need to recruit one extra student through your marketing efforts to more than cover the cost of a new brochure, which can be used over two or three years.
“Nothing compares to holding a beautiful brochure in your hands that tells a story and captures every sentiment of a school”.
At FSE Design we are leading Education Marketing Experts, committed to working with Schools and Academies on their marketing. We specialise in designing and developing key marketing tools to help schools actively recruit more students, attract high quality staff, and strengthen their position within the community to become the number one school of choice for students in their area.
To discuss the ways we can help with your marketing, including prospectus design or for a free sample pack, please give us a call on 01933 303520.