Schools are busy places. When a parent rings the office they are often placed on hold while information or staff are tracked down. What do they hear while on hold? Silence? The radio? Many schools, and businesses, recognise the opportunity to educate the listener during this waiting time.
At this year’s School Marketing Aforia Principal Chiray Fitton gave us some insights into the Montessori vision of education. The website for her school on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Montessori International College was tired, very busy and hard to navigate. Her team reviewed many school websites and felt they were all too similar.As Montessori takes a different approach to education they wanted their website to reflect that difference. The long scrolling down home page invites you to participate in the website. I especially like the Meet the Staff page with staff photos and avatars.
Schools in Australia are coming to the end of their year before the summer holidays. To say Merry Christmas 2012 I felt it appropriate to share this Australian video. It combines the YouTube sensation of 2012 ‘Gangnam Style’ with synchronised Christmas lights.
I shared this video as something fun but also as a challenge. Consider the opportunities of using this as a marketing strategy. For many years the Messages on Hold business have used strategic ambush marketing to gain free publicity. This video was shared with me via facebook on Friday when it had 300 views. By Monday it had 18,000 views. Two weeks later it had over 790,000 views. A video is something simple to share. What clever ideas will you have for your school marketing in 2013?
A word of caution though. This display was done in a residential street. The growing crowds meant it became hazardous. The display was taken down well before Christmas. The danger of going viral.
This week mark’s 12 months since we took over the leadership of the Centre for Marketing Schools from the founder Dr Linda Vining. I would love your feedback on this email newsletter. What works? What doesn't? What would you like MORE, or LESS, of?
Reading, watching webinars, attending conferences and seminars can provide a renewed enthusiasm for your school marketing roll. My colleague Suzanne and I have a poster challenging “when was the last time you did something for the first time?” It’s a reminder to be willing to do new things.
What new ideas will you introduce with your school marketing in 2013? Over Christmas I encourage you to read some school marketing books, consider further study with a Diploma in School Marketing, and plan to be at the School Marketing Aforia in Sydney. (Download the > Aforia PREVIEW Brochure)
If you want different results in your school marketing then choose to learn from others, as well as other industries. Marketing is fun, varied and involves risks. Simply repeating what you did in 2012 and 2011 may seem safe, but is possibly the riskiest strategy of all.
In Australia ‘Schoolies Week’ at the popular Surfers Paradise Gold Coast holiday destination in Queensland makes many schools, and parents, nervous. This end of school party is for students completing their secondary, or high schooling.
The tragic death of a student is always sad. If it happens during Schoolies Week it attracts national media attention > Death of school student. While obviously saddened by this story, I was impressed by the school’s quick response, and letter to parents. It was published on the school’s website. I wanted to share it as believe we can all learn from their proactive response.
Julie Ralph of Adelaide High School in South Australia posted me a copy of their very impressive year book. This is the only government school in Adelaide city centre. They have 1,200 students and were established in 1908.
How visible is your school? Mobile advertising on buses and cars is still rare enough in many places to be effective. Principal Alan McIntyre of Owairoa School in New Zealand has been using them for years. Seeing your school message in different, or unexpected, settings can make people take notice. If you only advertise where people expect schools to be, like the newspaper, then it can be hard to stand out from the crowd.
Some schools own their own buses. They should be considered as a mobile billboard. Others pay for temporary advertising on buses.
Some tips on paid school marketing on buses;
The financial value of a new family enrolling can be significant – especially when considered over the lifetime of their education. Lowering barriers to entry can help a family across the line.
Do school websites, and advertising which are devoid of people seem weird to you? Some schools choose to showcase neat buildings and classrooms without any students or teachers. At a conference this year I was presenting some photos of a school website. A delegate said it looked just like Chernobyl. After radiation leaked everything was left deserted and lifeless as the people evacuated. I thought it was the perfect summary.
Schools are communities of people. Take a review of your material. Do you focus more on the facilities or the people learning in them?
As the world’s second largest search engine YouTube continues to tweak and improve their service. Their goal is to keep people watching their videos for as long as possible. Why? It is the same as Television. The longer you watch online the more advertising you can be exposed to.
YouTube is therefore now favouring videos which contribute to a longer overall viewing session online. Previously many videos received large numbers of clicks but were not necessarily watched in full. YouTube will now recommend videos which people actually engage with. Your video isn’t more likely to be seen just because it’s shorter. If your content is interesting and relevant then your audience will watch and share it.
This week > Covenant Christian School Sydney’s YouTube channel passed 200,000 views. With over 300 public videos it is designed to open a window into the school. None of the videos however would be considered viral sensations. A series of four videos by Human Calculator Scott Flansburg do account for half the views.
In the hype of Gangnam Style viral videos it can be easy to forget why YouTube is so effective for schools. You don’t actually need 500 million views for your school videos. You just need to help current, and prospective, parents know more about your school. A video watched by a parent who missed their child’s speech in assembly can be as powerful as 5,000 views by people on the other side of the world who won’t ever enrol. A prospective parent seeing and hearing your vision, listening to a testimonial, or hearing a speech from a school captain, may be convinced your school will be a good choice for their child.
Larger numbers of video views, and enabling monetisation, does however have benefits. YouTube offers additional features including customisation of thumbnails. Normally there are only three random screen shots available. A good thumbnail can dramatically lift views from casual visitors.
Question: Do you have a customised YouTube School Channel to share with the network?
I was saddened and shocked to read that Professor Ross Vining died this week in a plane crash. Delegates at previous School Marketing Aforias would have met Dr Linda Vining’s delightful husband Ross. At the Aforia 2009 he spoke about measuring satisfaction, and turning data into valuable intelligence. As a top forensic scientist Ross used his skills to analyse much of the data for school surveys. At the 2010 Aforia Ross brilliantly led discussion on hypothetical scenarios where schools face damage to their reputation.
Newspaper editors love a good photo. In this > video is another tip from the book Smart Ideas for School Marketers. Supplying high-resolution portrait and landscape photos, with captions including names, makes the journalist’s life easier.
The Sydney Adventist College in Strathfield is closing after 75 years. Built to cater for 550 students the enrolments had declined to 146. It always saddens me to see schools close. While it mostly impacts current students, families and staff, I feel for the former students and parents who shared the journey. The Final Roll Call and Last Staff Brunch that have been organised by the school is a great initiative. It is a proactive way to invite back former students, parents and staff to remember and celebrate.
When an invoice for a domain registration renewal came across my desk from accounts I was about to approve it. Wow $249 for a domain for 2 years. That’s expensive. Normally it is about $10 to $30 per year. Sure enough it was another scam.
One of my favourite authors is Malcolm Gladwell. This 17 minute video provides some fascinating insight into market research. It looks at Pepsi, spaghetti sauces and mustards but has implications for school marketing. Malcolm claims we cannot always know, let alone explain, what we want.
Over the past few weeks my time has been focused on the 92 page soft cover School Year Book. Previously they tended to be handed out well into the coming year. Now we aim to distribute in the last week of school. This has worked well enabling students and families to reflect positively on the past year.
Rather than just let it be a record of activities it is deliberately a marketing document for prospective families. It doesn’t cover every subject, nor every student. More photos of families have been included. This is the first year of full colour and the printing quotations varied by over 40%.
I already have quite a few Year Books from other schools. Some are huge. Others are more like a magazine. There are hard covers, soft covers, glossy and plain. If you like your Year Book and have a spare copy (even past years) I would appreciate the chance to see them and share ideas with the network. I am also keen to hear if Schools outsource, use online services, have tried DVDs or other alternatives.
A thought: The School Year Book can be a significant cost in time and money. Make it worthwhile. It should be consistent with other marketing material and help tell your story.
Last week’s announcement of the two day School Marketing Aforia being held in Sydney next August generated many expressions of interest. It will be wonderful to encourage, equip and connect with more members of the International School Marketers network.
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 Neil & Jenny Pierson. Neil is a Storyteller. His stories are designed to encourage, equip and connect over 1,000 school marketers.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.