Schools face more competition than ever before, both in the UK, the US and Internationally. Never has it been more important to have a well planned and executed marketing campaign to engage your target audience, while keeping existing parents and members of the school community happy.
Successful marketing campaigns are based on quantifiable data. The more information you have about the perception and attitudes towards your school, the easier it is to reach your target audience. The level of detail in our Marketing and Catchment Intelligence report will help transform the way you think about marketing your school, increasing productivity and ensuring you directly reach those who are an ideal match for your school.
Keeping your audience engaged is not just about marketing to incoming parents. Therefore we provide a variety of resources to help keep you and your community speaking and listening to each other. All of our resources are tailor made to your individual needs.
Market and Catchment Intelligence
Our Market and Catchment Intelligence is a unique online and interactive analysis tool, designed to give a clear insight into your school’s potential market now and in the future. It is the most sophisticated and in-depth system of market analysis available. It uses socio-economic, demographic and income data at a postcode level to analyse the lifestyles of your current families and your catchment. It also identifies locations of independent school buyers in your catchment, and will indicate how well your school is penetrating its market compared to competitors. Please see our video introduction below:
The main benefits include:
♦ A clear indication of the actual potential for present and future pupil recruitment in your catchment
♦ The ability to target your marketing budget in areas that will achieve results and achieve maximum return on investment
We provide you with tangible data to inform and guide your future marketing strategy and any investment decisions such as:
♦ whether to increase school size or consolidate
♦ extending age provision
♦ exploring co-ed, extending sixth form / nursery, changing sites or merging.
♦ purchasing or merging with feeder schools
♦ opening a new school & investing in new facilities
♦ evaluating the effectiveness of existing bus routes and suggesting alternative routes to access potential new markets
Why do it?
Our online surveys are powerful research tools to investigate perceptions of parents, pupils, staff and other stakeholders and enable you to:
♦ Understand how your parents really feel about your school, and how you meet their expectations.
♦ Gain insight into your school’s unique strengths and areas you should seek to improve.
♦ Inform your marketing and refine your message.
♦ Show your parents you are actively listening and responding.
♦ Establish a level against which to monitor future progress.
We do not believe that one-size fits all and work closely with you to prepare a fully tailored survey questionnaire. We provide template text for all your communications about the survey and manage the complete process for you.
We benchmark your results against other schools and analyse and feedback our findings in a full presentation. We assess differences in feedback at various ages, amongst boys and girls; and day / boarding pupils.
From the results we highlight areas of interest and discuss the implications for your school, suggesting ways forward.
Example of Use
The Head of a school had heard that there was a degree of dissatisfaction with bus routes and communication. We found the vast majority of parents were happy with existing bus routes, and those who were not happy all lived in the same area, meaning the school could easily add an additional route. We also found that parents wanted the school to switch from letters sent home with children to weekly e-mails.
EMRS’s bespoke alumni surveys can help you stay in touch with your alumni, evaluate their attitudes and provide an objective measure of engagement.
Every survey is tailor made, nothing is off the shelf. We, therefore, build each survey to meet your needs.
Our previous alumni work has included:
♦ A general survey census which gathers information on communication preferences, contact information, and current employment status.
♦ A survey designed to measure alumni experiences and satisfaction with areas of education – from academic experiences (quality of teaching and departments) to student experiences (school life, extracurricular activities, technology resources).
♦ A survey gauging the level of interest in making financial and other contributions towards the school’s strategic objectives.
♦ A survey to find out the interests of alumni in order to run engaging alumni events.
We can also profile the lifestyles of your alumni. We understand this is about much more than just their socio-economic profile. At EMRS, we own data which reveals over 600 variables on every household, with wealth attributes making up just 81 of these. Knowing this level of detail on your alumni has the power to make your campaigns significantly more targeted, effective and engaging. Wealth screening will only tell you if any your alumni are in the top 200,000 wealthiest individuals, we can tell you so much more.
Key reasons to carry out qualitative and professional third-party telephone interviews with your stakeholders include:
♦ Understand the reasons parents do not enrol children at your school, and
what they think of you.
♦ Improve the quality of your tours, open days and follow up.
♦ Better understand your competitor schools and their activities.
Our in-house research team approaches telephone research with professionalism, rigour and sensitivity.We find parents are often receptive and appreciate the positive reasons for conducting research.
Example of Use
A large school was conducting many tours but struggling to maintain a good number of registrations and enrolments, particularly amongst boarding pupils. We carried out non-buyer interviews and found that parents wanted to meet house-masters when considering boarding places, and often parents did not get an opportunity to see many pupils during school tours. The school amended its tour structure and introduced follow-up calls with visitors to address any questions they had.
Why do it?
Telephone interviews allow us to discover how new parents found out about your school, their experiences of visiting the school, their expectations and hopes, as well as areas of school life that they consider to be most important.
We also carry out ‘decliner’ interviews with parents who may have requested information from your school but not visited, or those who have visited but not gone on to enrol. Research of this nature provides fantastic insights into perceptions of your school and the ways in which they may enhance and inform your marketing and admissions activities.
We regularly undertake interviews with Heads of feeder schools and those who should feed into your school but don’t, to better understand external views and perceptions of your school.
Our ‘opinion shaper’ interviews are an excellent opportunity to understand the positioning of your school in your community.
In all of our telephone interview services we work closely with you to develop the best questionnaire for your needs. This ensures we gain invaluable insights into perceptions of your school.
All our telephone research is undertaken by highly experienced in-house researchers. Our findings are fed back in a full written report with trends, findings, key observations and recommendations.
Why do it?
General Market and non-enquirers research is invaluable in helping you to understand your positioning. Our findings help you to use your marketing budget more effectively, ensuring the messages are correct and targeted at the right groups, and you can see the reasons your school is not effectively penetrating key areas.
Example of Use
A newly appointed Marketing Director at a school which had recently relocated to a larger site, suspected that there were low levels of awareness of the school generally in the new local area. Some senior staff believed that the school’s good reputation was sufficient to future proof recruitment but enquiry numbers at the new site were low. Evidence was needed to inform the school’s new strategic marketing plan, and following research of non-enquirers in the school’s new catchment, it became apparent that parents had simply not heard of it. An intensive period of targeted local marketing led quickly to increased enquiries.
What is it?
Our cost-effective annual survey package enables marketing, admissions and development teams in independent schools to gain instant feedback from parents, future parents, alumni and other key visitors.
Why do it?
EMRS takes the hassle out of running all important surveys. Simply send us the questions you want answered and we do the time consuming legwork. Our experience has shown that response rates are dramatically increased when surveys are hosted by a third party. This helps people feel much more comfortable and therefore, they offer candid answers, giving you more valuable results.
During the time surveys are open you have access to all results in real time and once closed, we give you access to the full data set to use and present at critical meetings with colleagues, senior management and governors.
As part of the subscription package you receive a pack containing our standard survey questionnaires from which you can choose the questions that you wish to include in your own survey, mix these with your own questions or start from scratch, designing your own for a truly bespoke experience.
The experienced EMRS market research team advise and inspire throughout the journey. We can also help you present your findings in the most effective way to communicate your successes and engage other members of school staff in the marketing, admissions and development process.
This cost-effective package, available on annual subscription for just £295 (inc VAT), allows for real time feedback from all of those people that matter most, providing real insight. Using surveys at open day events has proven to quickly help improve conversion rates from enquiry to sales.
Our survey package provides access to education market research expertise that you simply can’t buy online. Stand apart from the crowd and have your surveys deliver the results you need to inform important strategic decisions.
We carry out in depth, open-forum focus groups with key stakeholders: parents, staff, pupils, alumni and even non-buyers. These focus groups can be tailored to cover any areas of concern and are the ideal means to cover key aspects of your school in more depth than telephone or online surveys allow.
Focus groups tend to be informal and open discussions following a defined structure and led in a ‘dual moderator’ format.
Why do it?
Focus groups are an excellent means of exploring perceptions of your school with key respondents. The informal and face-to-face nature of the groups encourages participants to be open and honest. Our approach to focus groups allows you to gain comprehensive feedback on aspects of your school.
Parents respond very well to school focus groups, understanding that you are listening to their feedback and showing willingness to take part. Meanwhile, the opportunity for staff, pupils and alumni to feedback on their experiences and ideas to an impartial and professional third party is always well received.
Example of use
In a parent survey there was mixed feedback from parents relating to a school’s compulsory Saturday morning attendance – views were particularly polarised. We carried out several focus groups with a cross section of the school’s parents to better understand perceptions and to identify several ways in which our client could amend its Saturday school offering to better suit all of the parents’ needs.
Mystery shops are an ideal opportunity for schools to understand how prospective parents’ experiences of visiting them might be enhanced.
We objectively rate each element of your recruitment process, from first telephone enquiry to the handshake at the end of the school tour. We also assess your prospectus and website from the point of view of a prospective parent. The objectivity stems from using a tried and tested checklist. On the tour we assess the guide’s control of the interview and visit; friendliness, relationship building, empathy, personalisation, answering concerns, selling the school’s features, articulation of its benefits, enthusiasm and inspirational qualities. Your school gets an overall score and more importantly, a detailed write-up of the experience and what could be done differently. We also conduct similar evaluations of your competitors – both independent and state.
Why do it?
♦ See your school as prospective parents see you.
♦ Receive an evaluation of what you do well and therefore what you should avoid changing (and indeed build upon).
♦ Gain insight into what you should improve in order to better appeal to parents.
♦ Recognise staff who perform well; and offer feedback and training for those where improvement is possible.
Example of Use
A prep school wanted to find out why they were losing prospective parents to local rivals. Our mystery shopping exercise provided insights into how they handled tours. We ascertained that the head of competing schools often met parents, which was contrast to the prep school’s policy. The prep school was then able to emulate the best local practice and send a tailored follow-up letter within 24 hours of every visit.
EMRS has a wealth of international data at our fingertips and are ideally placed to work with clients on new international school projects and existing school brands looking to expand overseas.
We provide a range of services to meet the market intelligence needs of schools, higher education, school suppliers, investors, developers and professionals involved with international education.
In addition to the competitive market some schools are increasing their international student recruitment. Schools are increasingly relying on the use of agents as well as considering international strategies. Our specialist associates have well-established links with highly reliable student recruitment agents around the world. Our global contacts can save your school time and money, connecting you to families suited to what your school has to offer. We create resources to help you communicate the key features of your school to agents.