Hands up all the school marketers who get bombarded with questions about their role everyday? It can be tough fielding questions about the value of school marketing to a range of people with different levels of vested interest.
Most schools realise the importance of great communications, and the need to market themselves to stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape. To meet these needs, most schools employ a full-time, dedicated marketing manager to handle the role.
This role is often met with questions aplenty, from a range of stakeholders such as parents, teachers and even executive level staff.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the top 5 FAQs I get asked, and the responses that have proven to be most effective:
1. Why does a school need a marketing department?
Put simply, schools have the same objective that any business has – they need to make sales i.e. enrolments. They need to attract new students into each intake year and retain the existing customer base at the same time. Choosing a school is a pretty big decision for most families, so as a school, you need to ensure the information provided to prospective parents is accurate and meets their needs. It is also important to reinforce the purchase decision of current parents, and, you guessed it – we do all of this through marketing.
2. What is our marketing message?
Teachers want to know what the school’s key messages are so they can incorporate them into the classroom. Executive level staff want to know so they can confidently speak to other stakeholders about the school.
Every school has a motto or a tagline, which should already be ingrained into everyday life at your school. But something that you, as a marketer, can do is to educate staff on your key messages, with the ultimate goal of turning staff into brand advocates.
Getting them to buy-in to your marketing efforts can go a long way to improving your word-of-mouth advertising.
The easiest way to do this is to run a quick training session, at staff orientation or professional development days. Educate them on what the school says externally about itself so that staff can confidently speak to friends, family, and even parents about your school.
3. How do you measure marketing success?
This is a tough one, and it really comes down to your marketing goals. Perhaps your goal is to increase enrolments? You measure this by the number of new enrolments each year – simple.
Maybe you are in the fortunate position to fully enrolled for the near future, in which case your goal might be to maintain brand awareness. You could measure this through the number of website visits, or social media followers, or how many times you get mentioned in the media.
Perhaps your goal is to break into a new market or demographic, in which case you would measure a combination of the two above – brand awareness and new enrolments coming from this new market.
However you measure success, be sure the metrics you report on are in-line with your overall goals. Pick a few key metrics and stick with them over a sustained amount of time.
4. How can I promote my department and the work of my students?
Teachers are always looking to tell others about the great things going on within their department – upcoming events, new programs or student accomplishments. How these are promoted comes down to your school’s marketing strategy.
For example, you could write a media release and send it to the local newspaper. You could then take this release and share it via social media, or the school intranet. Perhaps you’ll include it in the upcoming school newsletter. If you have a school blog you could look at publishing it on there.
The key thing here is understanding your marketing objectives and knowing your audience. Always ensure you use internal channels (intranet, newsletters, email etc.) for internally relevant content and external channels (website, social media, local press etc.) for items with a broader appeal.
5. Can I have some information listed on the website?
A school website can sometimes be a battleground, where staff fight to have information on their department front and centre. For most schools, it is very easy for a website to become a mass of untamed information, which ultimately has a negative impact on the user experience.
When staff ask if they can have something posted on our website, I ask one very important question – is it relevant to prospective parents? Your school website is a key marketing tool, and is often the first touch point for prospective parents. The information you host needs to be carefully curated to ensure the user experience is optimised, while providing the right amount of information, on the topics prospective parents want to know about.
Now, this information will vary from school to school, and there is no right and wrong answer. If your school is known for it’s sporting prowess then you’ll want to list information on your sporting programs in an easily accessible place. The same goes if you achieve above average academic results.
Just remember to keep prospective parents in mind – what would a new visitor want to read about, assuming they know nothing about your school prior to this visit. They probably don’t want to see the latest maintenance updates, or the most recent room changes. What they do want to see is your schools values, your mission, information on specialist programs, and a list of subjects you offer.
Do you have a question for us? Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
This blog was written by Brock Ashton
When he isn't writing blogs or providing marketing communications support to clients, Brock spends his time reading fiction novels or chasing oval shaped footballs around a paddock. You may occasionally find him in your local Japanese restaurant, fuelling his passion for unique cuisine and culture.