Choosing the right school to go to can be a daunting task. It embarks an important chapter of a child’s life with memories that last a lifetime. Each independent school is similarly different and is sure to offer a unique experience. The challenge that all independent schools face is that they are essentially all competing for the same thing, students numbers. Getting these student numbers comes down to having the right school marketing strategy.
It’s not about filling spaces temporarily but seeking those individuals who have the right attitude and mindset towards learning that will represent the school best.
Whilst some independent schools have been around for centuries and have historic credibility others are simply new and offer a standpoint that has a much more modern outlook on education. It is extremely important that your marketing strategy encourages the ‘right fit’ students and families whose ethos is compatible with the school.
One of the biggest problems that schools face is finding who, where and what these students are looking for, we overcome this with carrying out an audience and outcomes exercise.
An Audience and Outcomes Exercise
At Rooster we will host an audience and outcomes exercise that will help identify the strengths and weaknesses of your brand.
We conduct our own research and focus our efforts on your target audience by asking them a series of questions we feel would be necessary to enhance overall brand presence.
We divide the individuals into core groups to gather personal opinions and insights based on their knowledge on a particular subject. To be a top performer we advise all our independent schools to carry out this exercise because the majority of the time participants are less hesitant and open up to us more than if they were with staff on school property.
An audience and outcomes exercise uncovers USPs that are significant to the school and should be used as an advantage to separate them from the competition. Audience and outcomes will indefinitely propel your school forward allowing more opportunities to develop a better marketing SEO activity. It is only through our audience and outcomes exercise can we propose an effective strategy.
7 Tips for School Marketing
1. Don’t Use Old School Phrases
Firstly, don’t pretend to be something you’re not! Too many schools try to oversell themselves by using the wrong language and old-school phrases.
We hear phrases such as these all the time: “we have outstanding results,” “we give a rounded education,” “happiness of our pupils is No. 1,” “we are a leading school,” and not forgetting our personal favourite “we have an amazing academic record.”
We recommend not wasting your time trying to impress the wrong set of students or parents that simply aren’t engaged with your brand in the first place. Manage your expectations and use phrases that compliment your educational approach. Ensure you have understood how you would like your audience to think, feel and say about your school.
2. Find Your Own USP
Your personality is your USP. Use it to your advantage and talk about your core values, assets, ethos as well as the school culture. Do not build up your prospectus parents for disappointment by advertising false and deceiving information.
People buy into the truth and love to understand your service by offering a truthful story which is much more meaningful.
3. Understand the 4 P’s
This if anything is the most crucial part of persuasion, your communication and response to how you answer questions based on price will be the decision maker for many parents and guardians.
What is prestigious about your school? Nearly all your prospectus guests will be dying to know about the school atmosphere, is it competitive or relaxed? This is the time to let your audience know just how great your school is. Be proud of your accomplishments and preach about them in any way you can.
Every child learns differently and so it is extremely important for parents to understand your learning concept to ensure they feel comfortable sending their child there.
Talk about your success and how previous students have gone on to other successful institutes such as universities and jobs etc.
Although academic success is the height of all decision making remember the happiness and well-being of students contribute to their remarkable results. As discussed above your USP is your personality and so people will remember you for what you say – build your brand reputation on facts and emotions.
4. Build Your Brand
Remember that you are not only an independent school, you are also a brand. People perceive brands of information that is accessible to them. By recognising people’s misperceptions and doubts to inform your school marketing can enable you to overcome them, this, in turn, provides them with an unforgettable solution. You want people to remember you for the right reasons.
Your brand is your reputation and it is vital you understand not all families will be convinced by your brand straight away.
5. Train Your Ambassadors
Any associated staff ambassador should be able to sell the school and clearly, show your USP. Focus your efforts on staff members that have to deal with prospective parents and students. Educate, influence and train them to the high standard required. Your ambassadors should not fear any question asked prior to school open days, knowledge is power.
6. Communicate Clearly and Consistently
The importance of consistent clear communication is understated. This is the prime time to set yourselves apart from any competition by establishing your authentic value. Your branding and tone of voice should be kept the same both for digital and print to not confuse the audience.
Repeat taglines and interact with your audience through images. Remember to keep it simple, do not over complicate and only share information when it is relevant.
7. Become A School Community
Create a warm inviting environment that encourages teachers and children daily. We recommend starting by building the community you want to be a part of.
Schools need to realise that although academic success is, of course, great it is also about the communication and interpersonal skills these children will gain from being a part of your school community.
Example Projects of School Marketing Success
Take a look at our most recent award-winning school below:
We focused on Downside schools’ dynamic facilities, individual pupils and breathtaking surroundings which created a successful school marketing campaign.