The pace at which the independent education sector responded to the Covid-19 crisis was remarkable.
Now it is just as important to bounce back, especially as parents face more choice than ever with their children’s education. As a result, your marketing and communication should focus not only on prospective students, but also retention, through creating a powerful brand and adopting strong marketing strategies.
Understanding the sales funnel, optimum time for engagement and conversion rates is an important part of marketing for schools. Your marketing and communications will require a concentrated focus at certain times of the year and at this point all your work will be put through its paces. Accounting time for planning, execution, configuration and that your resources are distributed as required is crucial. Developing a content calendar (a plan of what to share weekly/across a half-term/termly) provides you a great source to refer back to, to take the pressure off and increase efficiency.
It’s also essential to understand how you can repurpose content. Creating and distributing content across different channels will help you reach different prospects with different choice factors, allowing you to discuss certain subjects in more depth and address any common questions – instilling confidence in your consumers.
Blogs are a versatile way to provide insight into specific aspects of your school. Whilst social media is a great place to connect with others, your strategy doesn’t have to focus on just communicating protocols and procedures. Get creative with how you present your ideas and plans in order to engage your community – both methods are simple and effective marketing options to take advantage of in 2021.
Your website is a reflection of your school in digital form, so it’s imperative to ensure the information you distribute is accurate and up to date. As one of the first places prospective parents will look for information, your first impression is crucial, especially with competition for pupil numbers as high as ever. Your website should provide a unique window into life at your school, highlighting your strengths and achievements, reflecting your ethos and communicating your messages to the people that matter. Post lockdown information on safety, rules and regulations are likely to be of importance to prospects and since your school’s plans are likely to have changed over time, it’s key to ensure your web pages are intuitively organised to showcase the most recent updates.
Pay close attention to the copy you are producing. Your school needs to strike the right tone of voice when relaying information post Covid-19. Show empathy and tailor your language; now isn’t the time for originality, irreverent humour, or a hard sell. Currently, everyone is looking for is a sense of composure and positivity, so that is the tone you should strike with your comms.
Many digital communication tools such as e-newsletters and social media platforms will automatically tell you how many people are opening and viewing something. You must also consider engagement – how many people respond to your messages or share them with their broader communities. The ultimate way to gauge the effectiveness of your communication is to compare. Ask teachers, parents and pupils which methods they prefer – you can then target and focus on these channels.
Email marketing took on a new level of importance during the pandemic. Unlike your school’s website and social channels, sending emails is a direct way to communicate with future and current students, instead of relying on them to follow your updates consistently.
Open and click-through rates have both increased since schools closed in lockdown. We shouldn’t really be surprised by this – we all moved our lives online, but this does mean people are now in a routine and aware of the concept, so maintaining it is key!
Experience is arguably the most important of the 3 Es – it’s what differentiates your brand from others.
The competitive environment for schools has changed. In terms of efficiency, your prices do need to be competitive in order to be considered, but it’s getting harder to gain an efficiency advantage or an effectiveness advantage, and with a few exceptions, it’s not the reason you’ll be chosen over your closest competitors. You can however really differentiate yourself by looking beyond the purchaser to the user – the consumer, their goals and their experiences.
You must define how your school is different:
It’s vital to remember that every prospective parent, student or teacher has a choice. You should be asking yourselves these questions to identify your competitive advantage. It’s the combination of these core values which will provide the foundation for all your marketing communications.
Good marketing is more than just a pretty prospectus and a fancy website; it’s about encouraging everyone involved to feel strongly about their school and spread the word.
Competition is higher than ever and more schools are actively investing in their marketing, so let us be your creative sound piece – our experience in the sector can help your school be more efficient and effective with marketing and capitalise on those all-important experiences.