It is no secret that education providers in private and higher education need to market themselves to get those all-important paid students through the door and spending their money. However, in a world where school places are becoming more competitive, the need for a marketing strategy is becoming all the more apparent for publicly funded primary and secondary schools.
When speaking to educationalists, it comes as no surprise that their focus is, wait for it, education. Marketing isn’t always on their minds. Surely good teaching and strong results are enough to get parents through the doors? Not anymore. Prospective families have a checklist of requirements for their school of choice, wanting the very best for their children.
So how do you stand out in the education marketplace? We are sharing with you our top tips to be on top of when it comes to marketing your school.
Website, Website, Website
Never underestimate the power of your website. Whilst it may feel vital that you have an all-singing all-dancing, technologically superior site (and yes that will help you somewhat), the most important thing to focus on when it comes to your website is the content. As the first place prospective parents will go to when looking for a school for their children, and the base for current parents to check for updates and news, having your content up to date is key.
Do an audit of your website. Are any of the pages on your site out of date? Are all the attachments relevant for this year? How often are you updating news stories? Parents, and prospective staff for that matter, will want to see what is happening at your school to get a good feel for what they can expect. If they go to a website that is outdated, badly hyperlinked and has no apparent news or events they aren’t going to expect much.
Are you on social media? No, but are you really on social media? Other than your website parents and staff will go on social media to see what is happening at the school hoping to see regular updates. A good social media strategy should mean weekly (or even better, daily) posting across platforms – be consistent and unafraid to shout your message repeatedly. Moreover, visitors want to see exciting, engaging posts. Make sure to include images and videos in your posts, helping to bring to life the feel of your school. Make sure to pick platforms you a) have the time to manage and b) know your community will use and get posting! Why not even set up a school specific hashtag?
In what is often referred to as the digital age, being social needn’t just be about socialising online. Make sure that you are socialising with your community in person too. This will help build the reputation of your school – after all your students and current parents are one of your biggest champions when it comes to verbal marketing. Invite them in for coffee mornings, hold community events, or even just stand at the school gates at the start and end of the day talking to your families.
Share your specialty
Think about what it is your school does or stands for that makes you special and make sure you share this with the world. Coming up with key messages will help inform what to put on your website, social media, prospectus, and any other materials you are distributing. Is it your ethos and values, or your curriculum focus? Perhaps it is your links within the community or your results. Taking the time to sit down and come up with 4 or 5 key selling points for your school, and wording them into snappy sentences helps focus your audience’s attention and catch their eye when looking at their options. Could you even turn one of them into a hashtag you encourage parents and students to use?
Research shows that more and more people are paying attention to images and video rather than text. Having emotive photography on your website can help to draw people in when visiting the page, particularly if you are wanting to spread the message that your school is a nurturing happy place for children to learn. Creating an emotive VT to sell your school can be a huge asset when marketing yourselves, particularly If you use it consistently online and on premises. Why not have a video showcasing how amazing you are on your website, and playing on a big screen when parents arrive at your open evening.
Boost your PR
Managing relationships with your local and national press is no easy feat, but if you can get positive coverage through the doors of your community then this can do wonders for your marketing targets. Use some of those stories you are writing up for your website for the papers. Sometimes journalists don’t have time to find and follow stories, so why not deliver them the full package right to their door. Be sure to send stories with accompanying photos consistently to your local papers letting them know of all the good things you are doing at your school.
Whether you are looking to be school of choice, or employer of choice in your community, it’s time to start thinking about selling yourself, and doing it well.