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FREE School Marketing Articles

School website showcases 2012 web design trends

Our Lady of Mercy College is a Catholic independent girls school in Parramatta, Sydney. For the past 12 months, a team at the College has been working diligently on the development of a new College website; in early April 2012, the new site,  designed by online marketing specialists CIMarketing, was  launched.

Principal Kitty Guerin says the College community is very happy with the new website.” Its crisp, clean, intuitive to use, visually appealing and representative of life at the College. We have had lots of positive feedback on both content and design and there is already significant take up of new functionality options like online payments and tour bookings”. 

Some of the features of the new site include:

1. High Quality Imagery. A leading Sydney fashion photographer was commissioned to capture shots of students throughout the College in a variety of set-ups and candid poses. Having a portfolio of strong images enables OLMC to use the shots across a range of mediums as part of their integrated communications plan. The photos used throughout the new website will also be seen in advertising and printed publications.

2. Video Content. A 55 second clip entitled ‘A Day in the Life of a Mercy Girl’ was created as a visual representation of the opportunities available to all girls at the College. View the clip here > Day in the life of a Mercy girl

3. Simplified User Journey. The OLMC site is well structured and can be easily navigated through a top ‘mega-menu’, ‘side-menus’, ‘breadcrumbs’ and a ‘quicklinks’ menu.  The most important parts of the site are able to be accessed with 1 click of the mouse. 

4. Integrated Weekly Newsletter. In the coming months the College’s weekly newsletter will  become an e-newsletter, sent to their community database. The new site backend handles subscribes, unsubscribes  and the delivery of content in a visually appealing online newsletter template. OLMC staff manage this email delivery.

5. Smartphone Enabled. OLMC’s new site has been optimised for smartphones so that contact details, quick links, calendar items, newsletters and tour bookings can be easily accessed via browsers on a phone.  Look up on your phone to check it out.

6. ‘Book a Tour’ Module.  The ability for visitors to  book into upcoming tours online was implemented to save time and paperwork. Forms on the website trigger workflow notifications and reminders can be automatically set. Following-up prospects is a breeze with all details captured in a database.

7. Internal Policy Manager. OLMC staff have the ability to access policies, documents and forms through a secure login on the site. Management of these important documents in a centralised location is quick and easy for authorised OLMC staff.

The next stage of development will see new features created such as an interactive map of the College and secure online enrolment forms; these forms will enable visitors to conveniently complete and submit applications online and assist in administration processes as the submitted data will be automatically synchronised with the College’s existing database. 

Check out the new site here
Find out more about school web developers, CIMarketing, here

Further Information:

Christine Pace
Communications Officer
Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta
02 8838 1241

Mark Barrett
02 9984 8605

School Newsletters on mobile phone

Parents don’t connect in the car park the way once did – the pace and pressure of modern life has seen to that. But, if you want to move from simply being an information provider to community builder you need to move your marketing strategy from “one to many” to a “many to many” format.

School newsletters should consider moving to an online optimised format. This is important with the growing use of smart phones... Mum and Dad, and prospective parents, now have the ability to connect with school content on the run via their mobiles. Giving parents options on how to receive information is important.

The traditional paper newsletter may still work for 30% of your parents but the others may prefer electronic versions. The purpose of a newsletter is communication. Therefore it is essential to use the mediums your clients use.

And don’t underestimate the mobile phone. It’s going to become the primary source of communication and information gathering. Organic LED screens as thin as paper that can be folded and taken anywhere will solve the issue of information display.

Mobile phones incorporating miniature projection capabilities will also make any clear surface ideal for display.

So, simply by delivering information in more contemporary mechanisms and allowing for two way communications, you automatically lift parental and student involvement and promote engagement.

Careers Beyond School Teaching

Educators who feel burnt out, unappreciated or who are considering retirement or raising a family may be thinking about restructuring their career. What opportunities await them in the world outside teaching? How can they make the transition to a new career? This article is a summary of a presentation given by Dr Linda Vining at the School Education Expo in Adelaide.

In South Australia the name Wundersitz is associated with real estate, but scratch the surface and you’ll find that Janet Wundersitz is a former teacher. At the age of 48 she left the education profession, retrained as a real estate agent and joined her husband in his real estate business. Today she runs a multi-million dollar operation in property management.

In the Northern Territory, Diane Wilkowski is leaving education to become a marriage celebrant. It’s no surprise that after 30 years in schools her first customers will be former students who are getting married.

Parenting magazine Sydney’s Child was started by Gillian Hund, a former special education teacher who set up an independent publishing business in her home when her children were young. She went out and bought a phone/fax machine and a filing cabinet and did the layout work on her kitchen table. As things expanded she moved into her garage, then as the business flourished her husband left his job to join the successful company. Today there are 6 Child magazines (in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) with an annual turnover of $6 million dollars.

Teachers are creative creatures. I run into former teachers everywhere I go and hear stories of how they have converted their school-fired talents into satisfying post-school careers.

Last time I talked with Colin Murray, a retired principal, he was on his way to Dubai to run a training course in leadership. He travels the world as a senior consultant to the mining industry, designing and delivering courses on leadership, change management, team building and conflict resolution. He says he has transferred the skills he used as an educational leader to his post-school life, including an understanding of the importance of preparation and forethought.

By 2040 the over 60s will make up 25 percent of the national population, but many retiring baby boomers are still feeling effective, motivated and ready to go - they are a human capital resource that is just waiting to re-engage.

But, not all baby boomers want to carry on at full speed. Alan Peucher, founding principal of Mawson Lakes Primary School, is an example of what the social commentator Bernard Salt labels “portfolio retirement” - a lifestyle that combines work, golf, volunteering and family time.

When Alan announced his retirement last year, Delfin Lend Lease quickly seized the chance to add him to their team of urban developers. They were particularly impressed by the way he can synthesize information, undertake community audits and write a jolly good report. “The skills I applied to building infrastructure and community relations for schools are valued in business. And I also come with a huge range of contacts,” said Alan.

As the director of the School Education Expo, I am a former teacher who was always involved in community relations at school. When I left to raise a family, I established the Centre for Marketing Schools so I could work at home. Today CMS is an international business that runs courses, expos and conferences. My sensitivity to educational culture, coupled with postgraduate study on marketing, catapulted me into a career in school marketing that I love.

Marketable skills of educators

Educators are a highly educated and highly skilled demographic who often underestimate their value to the workforce.

After a few years on the job, most educators are equipped with good organisational skills, communication know-how, time management awareness, leadership experience and research skills. They are used to problem solving, teamwork and conflict management. Many are competent report writers.

Generally, teachers are patient, good at solving problems, able goal setters and willing team players. These skills are all highly sought in the business world.

Making the transition

The range of jobs for former teachers is enormously diverse and there are many opportunities to explore. You can:
Look for jobs advertised in career lift outs in newspapers and online.

Become a consultant. See my online article Becoming a Home Based Consultant at
Create a job for yourself by setting up your own small business.

Join another person in their business.
Buy into a franchise where a business model is already established.

The best way to start a new job is from a position of employment, so while you have a job, take time to research the employment scene and dip your toe in the water.

Start by identifying ways to align your interests with your work. For example, Tegan Whalan is a trained teacher and a dog lover. As the coordinator of the Delta Dog Safety Program she goes into schools and teaches children how to relate to dogs. She says it’s a very fulfilling combination of profession and passion for her.

A new career structure may need new qualifications, so explore extensively the options open to you. Mary Dover was a teacher deeply committed to the pastoral care of her students, but the stress of dealing with troubled teenagers wore her down, so she decided to study for a certificate in aged care at TAFE. She says her new career in aged care suits her perfectly. “Older people have their own set of problems but they are not as arrogant or insolent as young people and much more appreciative of kindness,” says Mary.

Think about a careers coach to help you prepare for a new job by assisting with resume writing and interview skills. An investment in a careers search company can be of benefit also.

Above all, develop a sense of confidence that you as a teacher have a lot of valuable skills to build upon. Don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t feel guilty about deserting the teaching profession. Typically, educators tend to stay in their profession for decades. In the corporate world, people change jobs every 3 to 4 years. No matter what your age it is never too late to try something new.

About the author

Dr Linda Vining was the founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools
© Copyright applies – It is illegal to reproduce any part of this article without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools.

School Alumni as Advocates

Your school makes an enormous investment in its students, and your alumni represent your finished product. They should be there for all to see; they should be working in the community as your best advertisements and strongest supporters. But all too often your hard-won customers walk away from their graduation ceremony and are never seen or heard from again.

If this happens at your school you are losing contact with your most genuine and powerful advocates. From a marketing perspective, former students should be a solid plank in your marketing plan.

Your alumni are your most treasured and hard won assets. They can speak on your behalf in high places, they can spread the message about your school into areas you could never reach, they can correct a wrong impression and they can direct people and resources your way. Finally, they have the potential to mature into benefactors.

But having alumni advocates does not happen by chance. Your former students must be nurtured and cultivated. They must feel a part of the school community.

Here are some ways to develop long-term loyalty in your present students and draw former students into the school and keep the old school spirit alive.

Inspire them early

At Seymour College in Adelaide, every child in the primary school visits the school’s museum – a magnificent restored stone house in the school grounds.

The school’s archivist is a vivacious Old Collegian who inspires young students with wonderful stories about former students as she lovingly shows them priceless pieces of memorabilia.

Present students aspire to be Old Girls one day because of the tradition and sense of community that pervades the school.

Catch them before they leave school

Catch your ex-students early by enrolling them as alumni in their final year at school.
You can bestow the honour, or in a fee-paying school you may charge a life membership fee which can be automatically added to the student’s account.

Introduce final year students to the benefits of membership and to the executive members of your ex-student organisation well before they leave school.

Develop a database with the names and details of former students and former parents. If it contains ongoing qualifying data such as personal achievements, career moves and family history it can be an invaluable tool for maintaining a life-long relationship.

But where do you get this information?

At the time of leaving school, all information about a student should be transferred to an alumni database which must then be updated as the years go by.

Use modern tools to track alumni

Keeping in touch with your alumni is the key to building and maintaining good relationships, which can in turn be of enormous benefit for the school.

An active alumni association that works to support the school can provide priceless word-of-mouth promotion, in addition to financial support, scholarships, named awards and bequests.

An up-to-date database is an essential tool, but maintaining it is a time consuming job. Some market-oriented schools have appointed staff to the position of community relations officer for this purpose. Others use volunteers. One school owes its comprehensive profiles to a retired principal who clips from the births, deaths and marriages columns of newspapers.

An ex-students organisation can be a source of information, as can reunions and correspondence from former students and news from other family members.

Offer an active role for former students

If you are like most schools, once your students receive their final handshake you quickly lose track of them so it might be wise form an alumni association to manage membership. These operate under a variety of titles such as Former Students Association, Old Scholars, Ex-Students Club, Old Boys Union, Old Collegians . . .

A voluntary committee of former students who represent the interests of graduates across the years is well positioned to run the association which typically involves maintaining a database, producing newsletters, and arranging reunions.

But, if you want your former students to be active and contributing members to the school, the odd school reunion is not enough.

Megan Latham, the Crown Advocate for NSW, attended her 20 year school reunion; enjoyed the chat and went away, and didn’t think about the school for another 7 years. That is, until the president of the Old Girls Union invited her to an exclusive meeting with the Principal and other alumni from the legal profession.

At this meeting, 27 years after leaving school, the principal invited Megan to return as a mentor.
Megan said she was inspired by the prospect of sharing some of her life experiences with the generation of young women who will one day take over where she leaves off.

A personal invitation and the promise of doing something meaningful for the school is an attractive offer that most alumni cannot resist.
Another way to involve former students is to invite them to participate in sporting events or career activities such as career seminars and work experience programs.

Cherie Cassock works in forensic medicine and when her former high school rang and asked if she would take a student for work experience she was only too willing. Cherie and the student found they had much to talk about so it proved a winning combination. Cherie gladly accepted a further invitation to talk at the school’s career evening. She was back in the fold. She was singing the praises of her old school.

Give alumni a reason to be part of the school

Invite your ex-students to contribute to the school’s list of awards such as an alumni scholarship, sporting awards, an alumni medal or prizes for the dux.

This reinforces the relationship between the school and its alumni and keeps people working towards a common goal.

Named awards can be presented in person at a special function such as a speech day or dinner, and winners should be encouraged to make contact. At the very least a thank you letter should be sent by the recipient to the award donor.

Keeping the past alive

St Catherine’s School Sydney, the oldest independent girls’ school in Australia, has an archive collection that was initiated by the Old Girls’ Union in the 1980s and is managed by a former student who has received training in archive management.

The school’s museum contains a wealth of memorabilia used by present students and community members when studying local history.
For school reunions, the archivist prepares a display of historical material designed to stir emotions from the exact era.

Schools that really understand the value of maintaining contact, plan visits and reunions with former students in the country, interstate and even overseas.

Stories abound of former students who have hosted magnificent events for their old school that have reignited the fervour of school spirit.

Maintain a communication loop

If you want your former students to be advocates you must ensure they are part of your communication loop. Send them your promotional material – a new prospectus, a quarterly publication and a copy of the annual report. These keep the connection alive.

Surveys of alumni publications regularly show that the part of the newsletter that is read first is “Where are they now”. Alumni are greatly interested in news and photographs of each other; whether or not they are contemporaries.

Make sure your former students know about the good things that are happening at your school. Supply them with the information they need to boast about their old school, and to share with others. Make sure there is great pride in saying, “I attended XYZ School”

Have a visible principal

Maintaining good relationships calls for the school principal to be seen and heard and involved with former students. Opportunities not to be missed are reunions and dinners, committee meetings and other social functions.

And, by being present at alumni gatherings it is often possible for the principal to steer the well-intentioned, but sometimes impractical schemes of alumni, in a mutually beneficial direction.

Schools are human systems where support is generated by support. When the school and its alumni complement each other, loyalty and advocacy grow.

Conduct and create:

  • Specific year reunions
  • Business networks for work placement and work experience
  • Dining In Nights where past boarders join current boarders for dinner
  • A mentor program
  • Career Expo using former students
  • Old Scholars Business Directory
  • Regular briefings by email
  • A page on the school’s website
  • Old Scholars Scholarships( financed by family bequests)
  • Geographic Clubs Worldwide
  • Guest speakers at Year 12 valedictory dinners
  • Guest speaker at sporting functions
  • WWII Vets Reunion for a weekend
  • A Wall Of Fame for past students
  • Speech Day Prizes to honour former students (financed by family bequests
  • Steps for attracting and maintaining alumni contacts

About the author

Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS).

Linda was the President of the St Catherine’s School Old Girls Union for many years - the oldest independent girls’ school in Australia. For her outstanding contribution to the UNSW Alumni Association she was awarded Honorary Life Membership.

More information on marketing strategies can be obtained from Linda’s book PURPLE POWER for memorable school marketing.

© Copyright applies – It is illegal to email this article to anyone else or to reproduce any part of it without the permission of the Centre for Marketing Schools

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School Website Design with CIMarketing

CIMarketing is a school web design specialist, offering you a complete online marketing solution. Let us help you!

As a marketing consultant and Director of the Centre for Marketing Schools I visit a lot of school websites. It's a hobby and a passion. There are some great ones. There are many ordinary ones. Some … well… need major work.

The Centre for Marketing Schools do not build websites… but we certainly know people who do.

Some web designers are graphic designers, others are web marketers. I would recommend the second. Covenant Christian School’s website was created by  former student Mark Barrett of CIMarketing. I have since used Mark and his team personally for several other client websites. They have also built several websites for people who asked for my recommendation.

Mark’s personal knowledge of the school did help the process. Yet it was his experience and expertise as a online marketer which was most important.

The CIMarketing team come up with ideas. They see what's working. They are passionate. They have gone beyond my brief and created, and continued to create, websites that work. Web 2.0 is all about two way interaction rather than a one way presentation of information. CIMarketing build on the Business Catalyst platform owned by Adobe. The platform makes it so much easier to expand and develop. It is worth finding a good platform as otherwise it can really limit your options.

I endorse and recommend the CIMarketing team. They have made this website as well. If you are wanting a website then include them in the discussions. I have been glad we did.

Neil Pierson
Storyteller - Centre for Marketing Schools

Cut the Cost of your School Electricity Lighting

Smart schools are discovering ways to cut costs and at the same time improve the environment. How would your school like to save A$24,000 per year on electricity costs? 

Would that saving put a smile on your Business Manager's face and give you a chance to increase your marketing budget? That is what Covenant Christian School on Sydney’s Northern Beaches is expecting.

Covenant has over 800 students. That means a lot of classrooms and a lot of light bulbs. Actually there were 1,390 fluorescent light tubes. One day a team of technicians explored the school. They were counting light tubes and armed with light meters to record how much light was being generated. Some rooms were brighter than they needed to be. Others were darker. Some rooms had good light in places, but possibly not over the computer keyboards where it most counts for staff on computers.

The team was from the Carbon Reduction Institute. They are passionate about the environment and business minded. They are approved to generate Energy Savings Certificates by the NSW Government. They are proactively helping many organisations, including schools, reduce their carbon footprint - which is great, yet they also save businesses money.

Over a few days in the holidays a team of workers swept through the school changing over the fluorescent light tubes. The new ones are thinner, produce dramatically less heat and create a brighter light. Due to very generous government rebates the overall expense to the school is expected to take less than six months to recoup. From there on it is ongoing electricity savings for the school. The current rebate scheme only applies in NSW Australia. 

If you are interested to know more email Storyteller Neil Pierson > Yes tell me more about CRI

Quick facts:

  • 50% energy savings in common scenarios
  • lasts over 8 times longer than a standard fluorescent tube
  • includes a minimum 2 year warranty

Did you know? - Quick History of Light Bulbs

In 1879 Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan developed the first incandescent lamp. It reportedly lasted a remarkable 13.5 hours. Edison continued experimenting and created filaments which eventually lasted 1,200 hours. The humble lightbulb changed society. 

However in the last decade the Western World has recognised that traditional light bulbs are terribly inefficient in terms of energy use. Only four to six percent of the electrical power was used for visible light. The vast majority was wasted as heat. They literally burnt money. Fortunately many homes have now converted to the more energy efficient compact fluorescent lambs.

Yet schools and businesses don't tend to use lightbulbs. They use traditional long fluorescent lamps.  Developed in the 1930's these use less energy, waste less heat and last 10 to 20 times as long as an incandescent bulb. They were remarkable. Yet sadly little has changed in the design for over 70 years - even with rising electricity costs. Fortunately the New Generation of fluorescent lamps are thinner, use less raw materials to make, save 45% of energy consumption and last longer.

QR Stuff - Harness the power of mobile

Make it easy for the increasing numbers of people surfing the web via mobile to find you. QR Codes are those funny little squares which are popping up everywhere. 

QR stands for Quick Response. Using a smart phone camera the Code is scanned and prompts an action. With increasing number of people accessing the internet via mobile their popularity is set to grow. Scanning a QR Code could open a website, open an email, make a phone call or link direct to an online video. It is a quick and easy way of adding life and interaction to your school marketing materials.

Many websites offer QR Code generators. The Centre for Marketing Schools recommends QR Stuff. QR Stuff enable you to generate, track traffic, and EDIT the action taken. This ongoing flexibility makes it much easier for you as a school marketer. Changing where a QR Code directs the user can means the viewer can always be taken to your latest material.

LogoInn School Logo Design

Need a new School Logo design? Low cost online option. Create a logo for school events, fundraising program.

School Logo Design is Important

Are you wanting a new school logo? Or do you just need a new logo to promote your After School Program? Don’t settle for a boring logo created in Microsoft Word or Publisher. The internet now gives you access to a world of designers at good prices.

A good logo can make a big difference in setting first impressions.  What do people say about your logo? Would they use any of these words:

  • Unprofessional
  • Old fashioned
  • Busy
  • Cluttered
  • Ugly
  • Confusing

If so then whatever people say about the logo they are likely to attribute the same qualities to the entire school.

Changing your main school logo is not something to be treated lightly. As well as the history connected to a logo there are practical considerations to be budgeted for. Stationery, uniform, signage and website would all need to change. I have twice been involved in changing a logo for a corporation. While I loved the process of being presented with loads of designs it was extremely time consuming. Logos are extremely subjective. Rarely will you have a logo that everyone likes – no matter what your budget!

Other Logos for Schools

Schools often have other uses for other less important logos. They are often easier to change.

Having a school fair? A concert? Launching a fundraising drive? A professional logo can often quickly lift first impressions of the school activity.

Over the years I have used the online logo design company LogoInn for four logo projects. LogoInn are based in the UK. Each time I have chosen the ‘Unlimited Package’ as it usually takes quite a few revisions before I sign off on a logo I am happy with.

Advantages of LogoInn for Logo Designs

  • very economical. Their logo design packages are extremely cheap
  • basic stationery of business card, letterhead and email footer is included. This is usually extra with designers
  • includes logo files in all the formats both your printers and staff would need
  • they can also design brochures and websites
  • designs are rarely ‘outstanding’
  • stationery is basic
  • you may not feel like you deal with ‘people’ as all feedback is via a website (some would say this is an advantage as
  • although changes are made in 48 hours it does slow down the process
  • you need to have some idea of what you do and don’t want for your brief

At Covenant Christian School we wanted to promote the ‘After School Care’ Program. The existing brochure for it did the job but wasn’t very attractive. Having LogoInn design a logo for the brochure lifted its’ whole appearance.

When the school launched online Gifted & Talented / Extension & Enrichment Courses we again turned to LogoInn to create a logo. 

Both our Centre for Marketing Schools and Marketplace Answers logos were created by LogoInn.

For value for money LogoInn are hard to beat. Check them out. Mention you heard about them from Centre for Marketing Schools.


Customised laptop skin for student and staff notebooks. Huge range. Great prices.

Customised School Laptop Skins

Tekskin is a customised skin stuck on the cover / lid of your laptop computer. It is a simple, inexpensive and extremely effective way of branding laptop computers for your school staff and students. When I first saw a Tekskin I was impressed. I was introduced to the idea by a member of the School Marketers Network.

The range of customised designs is HUGE. Your school logo, student name and any information can be individually added to each skin.

Advantages of Tekskins for schools

  • promote your school wherever the laptop goes
  • improved personal ‘ownership’ of laptop computers if students select design
  • less mistakes with students picking up the wrong laptop
  • adds colour to the classroom

How schools choose a laptop skin design

  1. All staff and students receive a standard design – add school logo, name & code # if needed
  2. Select 10 to 20 “School Approved” designs for students and staff to select from

Personally I prefer the second option. Students already wear uniforms – their laptop can be a way to express some of their own personality. Have a class of students pick the top designs for their year group. Make sure there is a mix of males and females. Have someone on staff eliminate any inappropriate ones. Some designs while attractive to students may not be consistent with your branding! Also some may not work with your school logo design. Change some of the mix of designs each year.

Things to watch out for with laptop computer skins

a) Give the exact measurements of your laptop flat surface area. (Laptops come in so many sizes).
b) If the edges are tapered make the skin dimension smaller as you don’t want them peeling off
c) Ask for a sample and attach it to a laptop to check it works
d) Allow time between ordering for printing and adhering them before delivery to students
e) Expect to reorder some as new students come and some skins are damaged

Tip with attaching Tekskin Customised Laptop Skins…

It does take time to peel and correctly adhere the skins to a batch of laptops. It is best done by a team rather than left up to the individual staff member or student.
Steve the owner of Tekskin is easy to deal with. Let him know you heard about Tekskin from the Centre for Marketing Schools.

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