While marketing is commonly not a priority for SBLs, it plays an important role in the sustainability of your school, driving pupil applications and so ensuring your school flourishes.
SBLs have done (and are continuing to do) sterling work in dealing with the huge challenges that the pandemic has required of them, but for a whole host of reasons, it is important that school marketing doesn’t take a backseat or indeed drop off the radar altogether. Firstly because we are witnessing a chunk of state school families migrating to independent schools due to disillusionment around the quality of the remote learning provision offered during school closures. And secondly, due to competition being fierce as schools are now spending the marketing budgets that they’ve been holding back across the past few months during the lockdown.
Unfortunately, those schools that don’t step up with their marketing will, unfortunately, get left behind.
Parents starting to think about Reception entry in 2021 want to know more about the unique educational provision, pastoral care and learning opportunities your school provides.
SBLs must look beyond the trench warfare of Covid-19 and communicate clearly and loudly about their learning environment and the benefits of that.
5 Vitals To Be Doing NOW
In an era of social distancing and restrictions on school visits, schools need to ensure their digital ‘assets’ are in good order and that you’re offering prospective families a good insight into what’s unique about your school and why it’s the right choice for them.
School website - your school website. This is one of the first places families will go to when checking out potential schools for their children. Your website is a ‘shop window’ into what your school offers. If the experience is less than exciting and engaging (e.g. poor quality photography, lacklustre messaging or frustrating user journey), then parents will click away and speedily move onto checking out the next school.
Digital content - this might include assets such as a virtual tour, video content from key staff or short ‘soundbite’ videos from those already experiencing life at your school. Parent and pupil voice is really powerful at persuading prospective families that your school is great.
Digital marketing - driving prospective families to your website is also essential of course as there’s no point having an all-singing, all-dancing website if no-one is visiting it. Digital marketing such as Facebook and Google advertisements, and sharing plenty of useful and engaging content, are highly effective. Just ensure you stick to your key messages to keep your school identity consistent and therefore more memorable.
Open events - in the current climate, open events or information evenings are trickier than usual to plan for but we suggest a two-pronged approach if you can: one virtual event and ‘in-person’ individual visits (if possible while following all safety precautions) later in the term or academic year. A virtual information evening could include a live welcome from the Head, a virtual tour (pre-recorded) and then dedicated time to ‘meet’ key people such as the Early Years or Reception staff. Doesn’t need to be complicated. Keep it simple is our advice.
Follow up with families who’ve enquired at your school - whether in person or virtual, or a simple phone call or email, following up with these people is essential. Why? Because they are gold dust. Nurture their interest in your school through a series of interactions and communications in the weeks following their enquiry. It can be super simple such as the Headteacher making a courtesy call, or a nicely designed postcard to say thanks for enquiring. And don’t just do a one off. Keep going right up to the application deadline!
Regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves, parents with children who are due to start their primary school career in September 2021 want to know that their child will flourish. Schools must do everything they can to reach families and show them why YOUR school is the best possible choice.
Find out more here.