Choosing a school for your child is an exciting but daunting prospect. It’s a decision that makes a definitive impact on their life, both in terms of short-term happiness and long-term well-being. It’s a process that no parent takes lightly and one that they will spend many nights going back and forth over.
How can you make your school stand out amongst the competition? How can you attract the top prospective pupils to enrol with your school rather than alternatives, which may be cheaper, or more conveniently accessible?
In the ultra-competitive arena of education, schools are being forced to act more like businesses to market themselves. Strategic marketing and PR strategies are now a necessity. But the danger in this is that by taking a more cutthroat approach to student recruitment, each pupil applying becomes a number instead of a person. Schools need to ensure they remember that the heart of the issue is a very emotional one: parents are choosing where to send their children to be educated, a decision which will shape the person they become and even what they will achieve.
Your school’s brand is therefore vital. When parents see your school’s crest, you most probably want them to immediately associate it with the core values that many parent seeks in a school, these could be, for example: prestige, achievement, quality, security, credibility, nurturing and trust. But on top of this, you need to identify your unique selling point: what makes you different from other schools, and why would this difference encourage a parent to send their child to your school? Once this unique point is identified, it becomes the thread that should run consistently throughout all your school’s marketing, enabling a parent to have a clear association between your school’s crest and what makes your school unique.
Perhaps for schools more than many other institutions, having printed copies of materials such as a prospectus is extremely important. Parents collect printed information from each school they visit, and so when they are reading through a ton of material and considering their options, if your school prospectus is not in their possession, how can it be seriously considered. Your prospectus should be carefully crafted to reflect your school’s ethos, and be printed in a way that differentiates it from the rest. Having something tangible from your school to hold in their hands and to keep revisiting helps to reinforce the school’s physical presence and also keeps the school front of mind when it is shared with grandparents, other relatives and friends.
Also of vital importance is your school’s digital presence. If your website is old, poorly designed, difficult to navigate or loses functionality on mobile devices, then parents may see your school as behind the times and have concerns about your capabilities to provide their child with an education that utilises the most modern and effective technology possible. Having up to date, relevant and useful content in the form of blogs, articles or other informative writing will also help parents to view your school as a leader in the field of academia. Articles written with parents who are looking for schools are also a great idea – for example, “how to choose a school for your child” is likely to be entered into a parent’s search engine and if you have a well written article on the subject that has been search engine optimised, your school could be one of the top results to appear. Using Google Ads to target parents living locally to your school is also a great way to attract them to your website.
Being active on social media can be a valuable investment of time that can be made with minimal costs. Parents may conduct a “social media search” straight after they visit your website to see how active you are in the community and what local events you are involved in. Having little or no activity on Facebook or Twitter could signal a lack of effort on the school’s part. You can also utilise Facebook adverts to really niche the target audience to parent demographics who are limited to the locations you want to appear to. As time passes, parents become increasingly active on social media and will recognise that it is not just the domain for business or pleasure, but is an active tool to understand more about a school’s online behaviour and brand.
The specialists at MAXX have years of experience working with schools, boosting their profiles and shaping their images into those that grab parents’ attention, highlighting each school’s unique benefits. Establishments such as Cheam, Eton College, Highfield and Brookham, Marlborough College, Rokeby and Westminster as well as several state schools such as St Bartholomew’s School and Pimlico Academy have all benefited greatly from MAXX’s approach to marketing.
If you want to have a chat with us about what we can do for your school, please give us a call on 01635 521224 or email us on [email protected]