As the new academic year fast approaches, we’ve done our own research and thinking to uncover the key things marketers need to be thinking about ahead of time.

These fall into three core competencies:

  1. Building to your strategy: Consistent branding, style and messaging which builds to your overall school strategy
  2. Signature experiences that set you apart: The key experiences which create a consistent and unique pupil and parent experience that they would not get elsewhere
  3. A close eye on your performance and the competition: How do you compare with the competition? How are our admission rates and overall satisfaction in comparison to our peers? And how well do you differentiate?

So, what questions do marketers need to ask themselves within each competency?

Building to your strategy

  1. What is the Head’s strategy and vision for the next 5 years?
  2. What marketing and messaging is required to achieve that outcome?
  3. Does our marketing plan support this?
  4. What style do we want to portray as a school?
  5. How does the marketing team better become woven into the school?

Signature experiences that set you apart:

  1. What signature experiences can you develop that differentiates the school and makes your parents advocates? E.g.
  2. Preparing welcome packs for new families in September – are there families who can ‘buddy’ with new parents?
  3. Recruiting the 1% of families who are disappointed with their choice of state alternative schools in a memorable way?
  4. How can you host memorable events supported by local enterprises
  5. What experience traits do you want to be consistent across your initiatives to build to your overall strategy?

A close eye on your performance and the competition

  1. How are you doing? Analyse your sales pipeline – Now you know who is starting in September, find out how many families enquired to achieve that enrolment. What is the conversion rate at each point along your pipeline? How does that compare with previous years?
  2. What are your competitors doing? Is there anything in the public domain that provides information on them, such as planning applications?
  3. How differentiated are you from the competition?

So, what are the key action points to take away from this and carry out over the Summer?

  • Build from your strategy: Get the headteacher, key heads of department, marketing, and admissions team into a room, recap on your overall strategy and workshop your brand strategy – your vision, brand idea (i.e. the idea you want every communication and experience that a parent or student has with the school to embody – this could be ‘brighter futures’, or ‘practical pupil’s equipped for real life’), value proposition, and messaging that supports this, values and personality
  • Brief your creative team on the brand strategy so that they can create collateral that consistently embodies it
  • Audit your competitors: is your brand sufficiently differentiated, and superior to your peers? If not, how can you make it so?
  • Brainstorm what the key signature experiences are that you want to create. If your brand idea is ‘practical students equipped for real life’ then one of your signature experiences might be a careers night
  • Get in touch with the organisations who can support your signature experiences e.g. enterprises in your local area, careers advisers, local government representatives
  • Analyse your performance, what is your enquiry to admission conversion rate? How does this compare with the competition?
  • If your performance needs improving, workshop the ideal admissions experience with your admissions team

Ultimately, ensure that every practical step you take reflects and builds towards the overall school strategy. Whether it is a careers event or an admissions process, or a simple recruitment flyer, everything should reflect what your brand is all about, and the summer provides the perfect opportunity to prepare these.

If you would like advice, guidance, or just to talk about any of the above, please do give us a call. Happy summer from MTM.