School admissions and marketing staff will already be well into plans and preparations for recruiting pupils for next year and beyond, including reviewing what strategies worked well this year and what might be improved upon. The temptation may well be, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – or to put it another way, if you are flying high, why would you look down?
In these tumultuous times however, even the most successful schools cannot be complacent. The amazing pace of change across the political and economic landscape, nationally and internationally, means that even schools that are ‘flavour of the month’ need to ensure they are not taking their foot off the marketing gas.
4 statements schools may be guilty of:
Schools that find themselves saying any of the below should be wary for the following reasons:
- “We are far better known than our competition”
Schools that stand still will soon be overtaken by others. Whilst it is never wise to follow the crowd, it’s essential to keep an eye on the marketing activity of competitor schools – where are they marketing, what messages are they driving, have they refreshed their brand recently? Schools should run a critical eye over their marketing collateral to ensure it doesn’t appear bland or dated in comparison.
- “Our results guarantee healthy pupil recruitment”
Results and league tables continue to be immensely persuasive for parents, but these are always going to be subject to change – whichever school you are. Anyone who has looked carefully at this year’s league tables in the broadsheets, can see that beyond the top 20 or so schools that rarely seem to shift very much, there are some seismic changes in the top 100 and beyond. One year’s cohort of results can move a school from mid 100s to top 50 – and vice versa. And guess what? Parents will take note. It’s therefore critical that schools don’t rely solely on results to attract prospective families, and instead, they communicate the school’s broader offering.
- “The school is in an affluent area, there is no shortage of prospective families”
You would have to have lived in a cave for the last 12 months to be unaware of the economic uncertainties that the UK now faces. Although the most wealthy in society may well be sheltered from the effects of Brexit and trade wars, many families will feel their finances are stretched in the short or long term. Can they really afford those school fees? Are they aware of school Scholarships and Bursaries? Schools should therefore be conscious of the current economic climate and consider this in their offering.
- “Our reputation speaks for itself”
A great reputation doesn’t mean a school can rest on their laurels either. Even schools with the best reputation are only ever a stone’s throw away from a damaging news story, a poor set of results, a bad pupil experience or perhaps an indiscretion. It’s important therefore to keep feeding positive news stories to your school’s communities so that if a negative incident should ever occur, the good will outweigh the bad.
It makes sense therefore for schools to keep a fresh pair of eyes on their marketing and to spend time reviewing its effectiveness before the new academic year is in full swing. Schools shouldn’t be afraid to make changes, if needed, to ensure they continue to attract quality candidates. And most of all, keep that foot on the marketing gas!
If you’re a school in need of help with any aspect of marketing or communications, simply get in touch! We’re more than happy to explain how our work helps schools to get results that impact positively on their school revenue.
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