What is your biggest tip for marketing and communications this Spring Term?
It has to be to think beyond the pandemic.
Rather scarily, 25 independent schools in the UK have closed as a direct result of Covid-19 (source: TES, 12 Aug 2020). The current pandemic has impacted on family finances and, coupled with the growing competition between schools to retain and recruit pupils, marketing has never been more vital for the independent schools sector in supporting them in being sustainable going forwards.
What do you mean by ‘thinking beyond the pandemic’?
Whilst there is immense pressure on schools right now and an absurd amount for them to think about, schools still need to keep themselves financially-healthy by attracting and retaining families.
This pandemic will end. Schools however, will still need to be sustainable beyond this.
Taking your foot off the gas with your marketing at this point will be super hard, in some cases impossible, to recover from. As we said, it’s a tough market currently and those schools who don’t ‘step up’ in terms of their marketing will, unfortunately, get left behind. And in fact, even the most successful schools cannot be complacent in these tumultuous times.
What is your top recommendation for reaching and engaging with families?
In an era of social distancing and restrictions on school visits, schools need to ensure their digital ‘assets’ are all in tip top order.
Your school website for starters. This is one of the first places prospective families go to when checking out potential schools for their child/ren. It’s essential that this offers a solid ‘shop window’ into what your school offers. If the experience is less than exciting and engaging (e.g. poor quality photography, lack lustre messaging or an unsatisfactory user journey), then those parents will click away and move onto the next school.
Not only must your website be clear, intuitive and informative, consider what additional functionality and content might be added to ‘wow’ prospective parents – virtual tours, video content from key staff members across the school (teaching and non-teaching), videos from those living and breathing the experience you offer – parent and pupil ‘voice’ is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Showcase this!
Driving prospective parents to your website is also essential of course, as there’s little point in having an ‘all singing, all dancing’ website without any visitors. Digital marketing such as Facebook and Instagram advertisements, and sharing useful and engaging content, are both highly effective ways. Make sure you stick to your key messages so that your ‘output’ is powerful and consistent.
If there was one other marketing or admissions activity schools should do this term…?
Many schools will have done virtual open events by now and no doubt, have had success with them.
An essential part of any open event however is the ‘follow up’ activity. The visitors that attended your open event (as well as those who expressed interest but were unable to attend) are GOLD DUST.
These parents have shown interest in your school, and, from a commercial perspective, are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to you. In some cases, they will be the difference between a school being sustainable or not going forwards. Either way, their interest in your school should be nurtured by way of a structured series of communications and engagements across the days and weeks following the event. Make these interactions compelling; consider how you might ‘wow’ these people. Offer them highly personalised experiences. Show them they’re important to you and you know and understand their details and circumstances. Engage with them in different ways and using different formats. Mix it up!
Your goal? To make them feel that your school totally ‘gets’ them and their requirements about an education for their child. And most importantly, that no other school comes close.
In partnership with Shareable and Unify, Stickman is hosting a special FREE workshop to reveal ‘How prep schools can increase admissions by doing LESS marketing in 2021’. The workshop takes place on Tuesday 26th January at 13:30-14:30. Rumour has it, it’s set not only to hold a lot of value for prep schools, but that it’s a great deal of fun too.
About Stickman and their unique approach to school marketing that generates game-changing results for schools
Stickman are school marketing experts who drive revenue for schools through transformational pupil recruitment & retention strategies.
Everything Stickman does is defined by their company mantra – School Marketing Made Simple. Through their coaching programmes and bespoke consultancy services, Stickman creates powerful, no-nonsense marketing strategies that involve schools doing fewer activities but getting bigger results.
“We are so pleased to be working with Shareable. Good marketing goes hand in hand with excellent digital content strategy and we’re delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to share our knowledge with your clients.”