People judge the value of everything around them – often subconsciously – in a matter of seconds. The term ‘blink test’ is usually used in relation to someone landing on a website. Browsers judge whether the website is valuable to them or not, and then make the decision to stay and explore, or exit…all in the space of a blink. 

Blink test_ you've got 3-5 seconds to make a good impression

At Stickman, we believe the ‘blink test’ should apply to EVERY element of a school’s marketing – be it your website, prospectus, open day flyer or the weekly newsletter. You need to arrest your target audience’s attention, convey your message and trigger their interest… all within just a few seconds. Not getting this right, can compromise the recruitment and retention of families at your school.

Here’s where your USP comes in…

What is a USP?

A USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. It is the features or aspects that distinguish your school from others in the eyes of prospective and existing families. A USP contributes to the distinct image and offer of your school. It can persuade families that your school is worthy of consideration for their child and can help you to stand out from the competition. It should grab attention and spark interest as mentioned earlier.


How do I identify my school’s USPs?

The starting point in identifying this, should be your ‘target audience’ – prospective families. Why did they choose your school? You need to understand this…so ask! Ask prospective families at the start of a school tour for example, what made them come and look around? Afterwards, ask them what they considered to be the best aspect? You can extend this by asking your current parent body…start with those who’ve just joined your school. Ask them individually, or get a bigger sample via a survey.  With expert questioning you’ll obtain insight that can result in a powerful USP.

Examples might include:

  • Teacher / pupil ratios
  • Class sizes
  • Value-added
  • Location
  • Wraparound care
  • Transport routes
  • Variety of non-classroom based learning
  • New facilities
  • Particularly qualified staff (ex-professional sports staff, for example)
  • Unique scholarships, bursaries or fee assistance
  • Leaver destinations

USPs need to be authentic. They need to be a genuine reflection of the best aspects of your school and the experiences of pupils and families – what actually happens – not what should happen or what might have happened in the past.

Who should know our USPs?

Those at the frontline of marketing and pupil recruitment must have a clear understanding of your school’s USPs. But who else should be aware? The answer to this is as many people as possible! Everyone, from the caretaker to the Headteacher, must be familiar with those aspects which differentiate your school from others. Consider who prospective families might talk to when they are considering their school choices eg other parents, teaching and support staff, former parents and the wider community.

Remember, when you can clearly identify what your school does well and project that to the wider world, then parents, staff, pupils, feeder schools and enquiring families can be in no doubt in making their choice.

If your school would like help to identify your USPs, or if you’d like to know more about any aspect of our market research, marketing and admissions services, simply get in touch. We’re always happy to explain how our work helps schools to get results that impact positively on their school recruitment and revenue.


Chief Cheerleader, The Stickman Consultancy


Stickman Character

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