With the emergence of Academies and a vastly increasing choice of schools for parents, marketing has never been so important!
Some schools tend to think of marketing as all spin and no substance but actually, by developing a marketing strategy it forces you to become self aware and really examine your school’s core values. A school that has a strong marketing and PR strategy in place experiences a range of benefits, such as an increase in pupil intake, growing support from their local community, it will assist with recruitment and will also help the school in gaining higher achievements.
With this in mind, here are 5 key things to consider that will help you to effectively market your school.
Developing a brand is about knowing who you are, understanding your values and what makes you unique; once you have identified this you can coordinate a brand that really encapsulates your school’s aims. The overall objective of your school branding is to achieve a uniformed look and feel, whereby anything that is related to and comes from your school is instantly recognisable and for the right reasons! This can include things like:
- School Logo’s overtime can become ‘watered down’ and sometimes they do not develop at the same pace that your school is developing, therefore it can become a logo that perhaps doesn't fairly represent your school’s values anymore. Your logo must stand out as an instantly recognisable one that relates truly back to your school.
- School signage, is the first thing that people see when they arrive at the school, it is seen from the road everyday when people are driving past also. As the first view of the school it should be striking and represent your brand, have you taken a look at other local schools signage, how does yours compare? Your external signage should set a president for what to expect when walking into the school, signage internally reinforces your branding message and helps to create a sense of pride and stability within your students and staff.
- Internal and external communications. What a perfect way to strengthen your brand by having uniformed letter head, font, email format, email signatures to name a few! This creates a sense of pride and delivers a powerful message to parents that your school is a professional one with a recognisable brand.
- School Uniform. Your school uniform is a walking advertisement for your school. Your students are seen everyday walking to and from school - are they dressed smartly? Are they all wearing the same jumper, blazer, tie etc? Does your uniform give your community a fair representation of your schools values, is it saying what you want it to say about your school?
Everything associated with the online world is constantly changing. Your school website is likely to be the first place prospective parents visit to look for information and get a feel for your school. Therefore, it should have all the information a parent or student could need, laid out in a way that makes it easy to find, including all the latest technology whilst incorporating an up to date design.
A few key points to consider when re-designing your website:
- Responsive websites are an absolute must in 2015! Reports show that mobile internet usage has now matched desktop usage therefore without a responsive school website you are instantly creating an unfriendly and negative user experience but you are also missing a massive audience.
- Your Content Management System should be really simple to use so that you can efficiently update your students and parents by uploading the latest news, events, important notices etc. as they are happening.
- How does your website look? Over the past few years the design of websites has changed massively; websites these days are being designed in a much more modern way with sleek long scrolling pages, larger images and defined areas on the homepage making it very easy to navigate around especially on tablet and mobile devices.
- Another important point is to make sure your website actually has everything on it that it legally must have, including everything that will keep Ofsted happy!
Despite the increase of online technology, printed materials should continue to play a key role in promoting your school successfully! In our opinion Less is definitely more when it comes to capturing your prospective parents attention, think about reducing your text and swapping this for changeable information booklets that sit in a pocket at the back of your brochure use key quotes and big titles! Photography also plays a major part in selling your school think large glossy happy images and importantly, aim your content at your target audience i.e. Parents with younger children...who are your new intake.
Social media is a subject which can often cause a mixture of confusion and nervousness when it comes to using it as a tool to promote your school, and it’s easy to understand why. But, with figures showing now that over 55% of the UK population have a face book account and 15 million of us are Twitter users, it is time to really look into how your school can utilise this powerful tool.
- Facebook- Most parents will have an account which means you can communicate with them, free of charge, in an easy, informal way. By posting pictures, videos, announcements and documents you can let prospective and current parents see a real-time account of life at your school which will reach more people than just those requesting a prospectus.
- Twitter- is a great way to communicate to current parents with short snappy attention grabbing announcements, news updates, reminders. Twitter is the perfect tool to invite pupils and parents to engage in conversation and therefore raising your school profile in your local community.
- YouTube – By setting up a YouTube channel for your school you can effectively offer potential parents a window into your school. By uploading short, 2-3 minute videos of tours of the school, student interviews and teacher welcomes you can showcase everything special about you.
Cohesive branding across all of your school materials is vital! When your website doesn't match your prospectus brochure and your school logo doesn't shout out your morals, all of a sudden you are un-doing all of your hard work you put into creating a reputable image for your school. Ultimately, a good brand will help attract new students, give them a sense of belonging and let everyone in the community know who your school is and what you stand for!
To discuss your school’s specific marketing needs, why not contact us?