Purple Power for Memorable School Marketing is a book full of tips and hints for effective school marketing.An example of the type of practical information contained in this book include “The School Tour“ pages which talk about six suggestions for a winning school tour:
If your school is thinking of creating a new website, prospectus, or promotional video, take a look at the judging criteria in the Judging Report. The difference between good promotional material and outstanding material can be just a few simple things ie: including a location map; not too wordy etc.
School Marketing Awards 2014 REPORT (4237 KB)
Barrye Dickinson from The Knox School, spoke at our recent School Marketing Aforia about incorporating the WHY into our school marketing. In our promotions, we can tend to focus on the WHAT and HOW ie: great facilities, teachers, academic results etc. But families don’t join your school because of what you do alone, but WHY you do it. Focusing on the why taps into the feeling part of the brain, and decision making is emotional before it is rational. The ‘why’ talks about purpose, cause, belief, and inspires us to action. How often do we hear the comment, “It just doesn’t feel right”? This is the feeling part of the brain overriding the logical part of the brain. It was a very insightful presentation, inspired by the TED talk video by Simon Sinek. Thank you Barrye!
This is a new award. Setting the criteria for the judges was challenging. Some entries focused on an individual student’s story. Some videos appealed more to individual judges. The beauty of video is that it combines visuals and audio and can engage a viewer’s emotion. It then becomes subjective. Creating a variety of videos will accomplish more than trying to tell a whole story in one.
Gold Award: Somerset College www.somerset.qld.edu.au
This website was recognised as being extremely well organised and easy to navigate on both desktop and mobile devices. Every menu tab has an Overview which provides a summary to help you decide before you click further to what you need in that section. It was not too busy yet there was a clear sense of the school's culture and photos of several staff.
Gold Award: Emmanuel College Warrnambool
Congratulations to Jean Christie who has also been the most regular delegate to the School Marketing Aforia. Judges reported that this prospectus was bold and colourful and printed on quality paper. It was a neat package and easy to take further steps towards enrolment. Most of all the judges like the great stories and personal language showing a diversity of students.
Last’s weeks School Marketing Aforia in Perth was a wonderful reminder of how generous school marketers can be. The discussion, presentations, show and tell and mutual encouragement was an enriching time. This is what impressed me with the first Aforia I attended in 2009 and why I kept returning, and when we took over the business in 2011 we wanted to ensure this culture continued.
We are very grateful to our host school Jan Garner of Lake Joondalup Baptist College and Gillian MacDonald of Guildford Grammar School. Their behind the scenes work was so appreciated by the delegates.
A friend posted on facebook a graphic from a café “No WiFi – talk to each other, call your mum, pretend it’s 1993. Live.” This café, rather than feeling compelled to offer WIFI, boldly promoted some benefits of not providing it.
Around Australia there is an increasing trend from government schools to private. Currently 34% of students are in non-government schools. In California USA the opposite is happening. Private school enrolments dropped from 611,000 to 500,000 over a 10 year period. In 15 years it has dropped from 10% to 8% of the child population. In the 1970’s the American Baptist denomination operated 48 schools in the Los Angeles County. Their last school, which peaked at 540 students, but fell to under 100, has now closed its doors. (Source: Daily Breeze )The challenge for school Boards and marketers is naively thinking they will always grow, and setting their budgets accordingly. School marketing is a long term strategy rather than a short term fix to fill some vacancies. Government funding models change. Demographics change. Society expectations change.
At last week’s School Marketing Aforia we announced the winners of the School Marketing Awards. Details will be released in coming weeks.Most schools have websites. Many are being updated. A trap can be relying on graphic designers or website engineers to direct you. The most important question to answer to ask: ‘is your website helpful to your school community?’ This humorous ven diagram contrasts what we often fill our school websites with, versus what users are looking for. Remember that the MAIN purpose of your school website is to help your existing community. Yes, it is a sales brochure but if it is useful it will generate traffic and be something which students and parents are more likely to talk about positively.
Janet Murray learnt some of her most valuable lessons as a secondary school teacher in a selective boys schools. From there she headed into journalism. Now she uses her experience to help others increase their media exposure.
You can download a free ebook – “How to make journalists fall in love with you." There are hyperlinks in the ebook to more articles and information. Even if you don’t want to know how to work with journalists the book is a good example of how schools could create prospectus with links to more information.Janet’s training videos using a white board and talking give some insight into how she may have been in the classroom. This one is “The one question you should ask before you pitch a story idea to an editor”
A friend posted on facebook this sign from a very busy Sydney car park. His comment was “Why bother locking the 1985 Ford Meteor? And that stuff on the back seat? Oh please…”
Anna Bartlett, Marketing and Development Manager at Downlands College in Toowoomba has an interesting footer to her email
“This is a Calm Inbox: email is checked once in the AM and once in the PM. Thanks for understanding.”
As part of their 35th birthday celebrations Pacific Hills Christian School hired an UAV/drone & filmed themselves from above making up the number 35 on their school oval. Marie-Louise FitzGerald, Development Officer says “We had a lot of fun with it and the students really enjoyed it.” They are making two videos of the event but have already released the general one made for students & released on social media.
While schools are embracing social media more and more, let's not forget that the foundation of our schools is community. People interacting with people gives a sense of togetherness and belonging. This is what sees people generate positive word of mouth conversations around their school experience.
This clever video says a lot, even though it is in Thai, and highlights how mobile devices can make those closest to us disappear. School is an experience of community, and we need to continue to find ways to celebrate what we can do together to create that sense of belonging.
As we learn how to do social media well, we won't be adding to the clutter and distraction, but it will be a tool to enhance peoples' connectedness to each other and the school.
David Rawlings, whose book > 501 Great Social Media Ideas for Schools has been added to our shopping cart recently, will present on social media for schools at the > School Marketing Aforia on 19 and 20th June in Perth. It is not too late to register. He will cover the topics of:
1. Creatively harnessing your school's social media
2. Ideas Blitz: 11 ways social media helps your school
Raise the flag. Sing the national anthem. Put up a particular poster. Teach this subject. Stop teaching this subject. Do this test. Submit this form. Schools are asked to do many things and sometimes it can raise challenges and conflicts with educational beliefs and vision.
Chiray Fitton, Principal at Montessori International College presented at our School Marketing Aforia in Brisbane. Recently we noticed her email footer included this text “I recognise the land of the Aboriginal people upon whose lands I live and work today. I acknowledge our ancestors and elders, past and present.” This is not a requirement in emails, but an increasingly common statement when opening public events in Australia, so we asked about her rationale in including it.
Chiray explained “It is something I felt compelled to include in my email signature as it is both necessary and important with regard to ‘living’ both the values of our learning community and those of Montessori philosophy. The decision to include an acknowledgment such as this (re the staff) is never mandatory (nothing in a Montessori school is, as it must come from self). In saying this, we as a learning community are fortunate as we share these values and the acknowledgement is inevitably expressed school wide via many mediums without the need to mandate.”
The decision to include it is consistent with the work of the > Montessori Children’s Foundation
Question: Are there things your school have been asked to do but been reluctant to. Are there ways you proactively express your school’s uniqueness which may be considered counter-cultural to the general population? Comments can be published anonymously if requested.
Video is becoming an increasingly important part of school marketing. Some schools can afford to have professionals on their team. Most can’t. If you would like to include more videos but are daunted by them the Vimeo Video School is a wonderful resource. The series of videos start with the basics. They say of themselves “Learn how to make better videos through lessons, tutorials, and sage advice from us, your friendly personal creativity consultants.”
Is there an ideal size for a school? What about your school? I attended a secondary school of 1,200 people from Year 7 to 12. I enjoyed school and didn't think of the size. It just was. However when organising our 20 year reunion there were names of people I had never heard of. I realised that there were many students who never crossed my path,or shared a class with me. Several independent schools have opened nearby and my former school now has less than 900 students.
Covenant Christian School where I am given great freedom to experiment with marketing is growing. It has gone from 740 to over 870 students and expects to be over 900 in the next two years. Back in 1978 the pioneers thought 300 students would be a large school. This continued growth raises challenges. As a preschool to Year 12 school the growth is concentrated in the Secondary School Year 7 to 12. That means new buildings, reassigning play space, additional staff and parking.
One of the features of a Preschool to Year 12 is coming together for General Assemblies. Growing to 900 may threaten that due to the size of the School Hall.
Across the road from Covenant is a Kindergarten to Year 6 school called Yanginanook which only caters for 20 to 28 students. It serves a distinct target audience. In 2012 the prospectus for Fintona Girls School won a School Marketing Award. The beautiful prospectus deliberately celebrated them being a small school. Canbury School in the UK describes itself as "small, and deliberately so. With only a maximum of 65 pupils on roll each is treated very much as an individual, hence our motto “An individual approach to success”. Whatever the size of your school it is important to think ahead with your marketing. It can be tempting to promote "small class sizes" and "small school community" but it can be a trap. If the reason you have small class sizes is because you don't yet have enough students it may be better to not mention it. If however it is a deliberate strategy, or a physical limitation of your ground or local regulations, then declare it.
As school marketers these are important discussions to be part of. Here are some key questions to ask about growth.
1. Will the reason our current community choose, and like, our school be impacted?
2. Are we attracting the families we actually want?
3. Could we regret this marketing message in five years time?
Gauging your community satisfaction is important. Providing regular opportunities for feedback can be via surveys, informal one on one chats, or more structured focus groups. Listening AND responding is vital. Centre for Marketing Schools offer a range of > School Satisfaction Surveys.
Each week Trinity Christian College in Illinois USA posts a new student testimonial on their website using YouTube. The videos are generally under a minute long and use a simple white backdrop. The variety of videos allows them to cover the diversity of subjects on offer. The videos are also an attempt to identify with the diversity of viewers. The testimonials go beyond what each student is studying and include something about their life, goals, interests or the local area.
See the series at: > www.trnty.edu/studentvideos
The Centre for Marketing Schools is an international network of people passionate about schools. Founded by Dr Linda Vining the Centre is now led by Jenny Pierson.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.