From the cost of living crisis to the very real possibility of VAT on school fees, forward-planning Governing bodies and SLTs throughout the UK are looking at strategies to respond and build support among their stakeholders.
While we’ve seen plenty of advice around the financial planning and management of these potentially seismic changes to the independent sector, we’ve seen very little around the place marketing can play. How is your school using marketing to mitigate against the plethora of risks and threats you are currently facing?
We’ve identified three key ways that powerful school marketing can actively support the sustainability of your school:
1. Plan and schedule a strategic communications plan that will help to build understanding and support among stakeholders – both internal and external. This essentially means using all the appropriate platforms you have to reach your audience of current and prospective families with the reasons WHY you, as a fee-paying school, offer extraordinary value for money (and will continue to do so in spite of any increases to fees) and why your offer and provision stands head and shoulders above the alternatives. Do this by leveraging your social media and website copy, share brief videos from the Head, ramp up your email comms on the subject, focus on it in your newsletter, write opinion piece articles or blogs. You get the idea.
2. Evidence your USPs – we’ve said it before (and we’ll say it again), but EVIDENCE and PROOF POINTS are your best friend. What are your teacher: pupil ratios at each key stage? What is your value-added in academic terms? What do pupils / parents / alumni say about you? Where do your alumni go and what have they gone on to achieve? How do you actually save parents money and time in the longer term (sports and co-curricular activity provision, wraparound care, boarding)? Don’t be shy about making these explicit in your marketing messages and don’t assume parents (and prospective parents) know them already.
3. Say it more than once. Once is never enough. Consistent, sustained messaging builds recognition and resonance over time so never assume that just because you’re doing (1) and (2) that it is ‘job done’. Write it into your 12-month plan and keep going back to it to ensure it happens.
So it’s time to get busy with your marketing and communications strategy, to carry out research to crystallise your USPs, build your bank of evidence and proof points, and to revisit your marketing activity regularly to ensure it’s hitting home.
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The Stickman team help school leaders, bursars, and marketing and admissions managers to boost revenue via powerful and simple marketing strategies.
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Emily & the Stickman Team