Mobile browsing worldwide has reached 24%. In Australia it is only 20% and New Zealand at 16%. Yet the trends are obvious. How does your school website look on a mobile phone or tablet? While the majority of your visitors will still be using desktops or laptop screens schools cannot ignore the needs of a growing part of their current and prospective audience.
Hopefully this infographic will help. It may be too detailed for many school marketers but could help you talk to your website developers. It is also a good example of an infographic in how it displays information and includes a sense of movement rather than being a static page.
Click here > Website Testing Infographic
While visiting Belgrave Heights Christian School to do a video interview of a teacher I was introduced to Sarah Kelly, Events and Promotion Coordinator. Sarah, as a subscriber to this newsletter, took the opportunity to share with me some of the fascinating history of the school.
Having started with 15 students in 1983 the school grew slowly to 45. However the school lost momentum and most of its enrolments. With only 5 students remaining it looked like the school would close. Surprisingly another school, Hillcrest Christian College, located 30 minutes away called them. This school didn’t have the facilities to cope with their current student numbers. They wondered if they could bus over two classes, and their teachers, while they expanded their own facilities. This ‘loan’ of students for two years enabled Belgrave Heights to regain momentum.
Belgrave Heights then grew to 100 students by the year 2000, and decided to introduce secondary school. Over the past few years the school has grown to over 600 students. They have had continual building projects to keep up with increased demand. Hillcrest has also continued to grow in size and reputation.
Message: Rather than competing with other schools consider if, or how, you could work together towards a common goal. It may be long term or just for a season.
What new ideas are you going to implement in your school marketing in 2014? What worked for you in 2013? Send us an email or give us a call.
Do you need some training? The Diploma in School Marketing is still accepting enrolments for 2014. This six month distance education course is a practical way for school marketers to develop their skills. The assignments of creating a Style Guide and Strategic Marketing Plan help equip graduates to take their school forward.
Read testimonials from graduates at > Diploma in School Marketing
Several schools around the world have sent us Christmas greetings with cards or email. We love the variety of ways schools connect with others at this time of year.
We wanted to share one video which combines a simple slideshow of photos with music and singing by their senior student choir.
The video also reminds us of the diversity of subscribers to this newsletter. Tracy Tigchelaar Marketing and Communications Manager at the The British School in The Netherlands sent an email with a graphic linking to their website for us to watch this video.
We hope you enjoy it, and consider adopting the idea for your own school community. The video is not high tech or designed to go viral. It is designed to include as many students as possible, share their singing with a wider audience and build a sense of community.
This school promotional video is now three years old. It is wonderful example of showing the culture, facilities and diversity of students at school. The lip-syncing video was created as part of Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s 135th birthday.The video transitions from location to location are simple and effective. My favourite piece is when the lip-syncing stops at 3.38 and the girls take over with a school chant.
Cain MacDonald, Principal at Victory Lutheran College has been studying a Diploma in School Marketing. When visiting his K-12 school he told me of a simple strategy to help build relationships among his growing number of staff.
At the beginning of the year staff are given the name of another staff member like a ‘Secret Santa’. Throughout the year they are to do random acts of kindness to that person. It may be cards, flowers, washing up, presents or encouraging notes. Whatever they can think of. They are not to disclose their identity.
At the end of year staff gathering each staff member is allowed three guesses to identify who they suspect is their ‘Secret Santa’. The person then identifies themself. Naturally some staff will deliberately do random acts of kindness for other staff to make it harder to guess.
The activity creates a culture of appreciation, makes work more enjoyable, surprising, and encourages staff to think beyond their own faculty or area of the school.
Happy staff are your best school marketers. They talk. Prospective parents ask their opinion. Finding ways for your staff to feel appreciated, connected, and part of a healthy community, may be more effective than any planned advertising campaign.
Last week I visited four schools in Victoria. Talking with other school marketers, exploring schools, and meeting staff, is something I love doing. I find schools very generous with ideas.
Often school marketers are isolated. Some just need to bounce ideas around, or talk with someone who shares their passion. The two day School Marketing Aforia is something I look forward to each year. The roving format of visiting schools and hearing stories from other school marketers is the highlight for me.
The School Marketing Aforia for 2014 will be held in Perth on June 19-20. Our host schools are Guildford Grammar School and Lake Joondalup Baptist College. Perth Australia June 19-20.
A Christian school, celebrating their 35th birthday, asked me to help them tell their story. Part of my response was to interview pioneering parents, teachers and students. I believe sharing their stories will help current and prospective parents better understand the school’s purpose and vision. The ‘WHY’ behind the creation of your particular school is an important part of your unique story.
This particular school, in a rural community, was a joint effort by parents in Reformed, Seventh Day Adventist and Christian Revival Crusade churches. By choosing to work together, rather than each creating their own school, they helped unite Christians in their community.
Action: Recording and sharing your school history takes time and energy. Video can help you tell much more than relying only on photos and text.
A large banner promoting a school in New South Wales was hung across the main street of town. It was quickly taken down. Why? A typo. Instead of “College” it had misspelled it as “Colledge”.
Deidre Proxenos, Director of Marketing & Foundation at Dainfern College, Johannesburg, South Africa is taking a proactive step to reduce typos in their school communications. She shared “We have found that communication with parents is really so crucial. With every staff member having access to email and sms functionality to both parents and students - we find that many emails are going out and often with spelling errors - which is so unprofessional. We have now employed a full time communications manager. ANY letter, email or SMS that goes out to our parents or students - will need to be run by her first. We truly believe this consistency will assist in improving our image. No matter what we say with our marketing material - one email to parents with five errors in it - can truly do a lot of damage!”
Message: Parents expect schools, and teachers, to be role models in spelling and grammar. Repeated mistakes undermine their confidence. Have someone else read over school material before sending it out.
Schools rely on volunteers for many things. Managing them can be a stressful task. How schools treat, train and motivate their volunteers can greatly influence what they tell their friends about your school.
Caring for your volunteers may be your single most important school marketing strategy.
Dr Linda Vining’s 50 page book > Working with Volunteers in Schools includes the following topics:
University of Technology Sydney is spending A$1billion dollars over 10 years on expanding their city campus. Rather than relying on traditional posters and newsletters the University created an animated video to help tell the story. Each time they introduce a statistic they link it to something which students and staff can relate to. For example stating that they were excavating 175,000 cubic metres is an unknown amount to most people. Equating it to 70 Olympic size swimming pools gives it meaning.
The expanded campus will accommodate over 8,000 more students.
The message: Try different ways to communicate your news. Connect abstract concepts to something real. Importantly link your news to a “What’s in it for me?” This means your viewers are not left with a “so what?” feeling at the end.
In Australia the discussion of funding government and private education is often in the news. Our media can tend to focus on what are considered newsworthy extreme examples of under resourced and what are considered ‘over’ resourced schools.
Private schools have an opportunity to educate parents so they can engage in meaningful, rather than sensational, conversations with friends and neighbours. Real numbers give parents greater confidence to combat sensational stories. The Australian Association of Christian Schools chose to create a website solely on the topic > School Funding. The use of graphs, infographics, bullet points keeps it clean, easy to read and not overwhelming. Two headings of ‘Facts’ and ‘Furphies’ (Australian slang for lies) helps set a more conversational tone.An interesting and simple statistic from the website is:
I received an email inviting me to attend a one day workshop. I read it partly out of curiosity. I then read it again trying to decipher what was on offer. The email was for training in what I will call ‘X’ and ‘Y’.
What would you do if faced with a dramatic exodus of students because of the inclusion of one new student? When Ruby Bridges started school she was the first African American in an all white government school. While she was simply a student walking through the doors of a school the changes happening in society around her were dramatic.
Next time you are having concerns over your enrolments consider the impact on both this school, and the others around it, on that eventful day. As school marketers we need to keep a perspective.
A few months back a school asked for my advice. They were retrenching some staff due to a decline in enrolments and wanted me to review a proposed letter to parents.
The letter was clear and hopeful. Yet, I felt, it lacked the warmth, emotion and human connection the situation deserved. The board agreed for me to film three of them as they explained the decision, put it in a larger context and importantly honour the staff leaving. Video allowed them to show emotion. This is difficult in a letter. Importantly it also put a face to the people making this strategic decision on behalf of the school.
The video ended up being almost 9 minutes long. A link was emailed to all parents. Board members then followed up a few days later with a personal phone call. The video didn’t change the news but I believe it, and the phone call, softened some of the negativity, or misinterpretation which can happen when we rely too much on written text.
What do you do with a University site when it closes its doors? For 20 years UTS, the University of Technology in Sydney has had two campuses 20 kilometres apart. One was large and the other much smaller. With the decision to close the smaller campus local residents feared it would de developed for housing. However as the local suburb has overcrowded schools it is likely to become another state government school catering for 1,000 students. > UTS Campus to become schoolTo consider: Local independent schools in Sydney which have benefited from the overcrowding of state schools will, in a few years, have a new competitor in the area. Be aware of new schools planned for your area. Don’t wait until these new schools open their doors before you tell current and prospective parents your unique story.
When Coca Cola chose the layout for telling their history they adopted a Pinterest style > Coca Cola History.
Pinterest is a highly visual way of presenting large amounts of material. Recently our local Westfield shopping centre > Warringah Mall, also chose a similar style for their revamped website.
Earlier this year we relaunched Covenant Christian School’s community news blogsite > Our Covenant in a Pinterest style. The reaction was mixed. With an average of 10 new stories a week the new design is now very familiar. The infinity page scrolling means if you have enough time you can see well over 2,000 stories and thousands of photos.
Part of the advantage of Pinterest style is how this modular box format responds to mobile devices and tablets. Sometimes it will display one column wide and other times five. It all depends on what device you are using. The weekly > html newsletter uses the same style.
The annual Christmas lights display at Westminster School in Adelaide has dramatically helped raise the profile of the school in the area. Having no main street frontage the display helps visitors have a reason to find the school and invite others to come with them.
For one week from December 15 the school is open from 8pm to 10pm for people to drive through, or park and walk around. With carols and other entertainment it is a big event, relying on a wonderful team of volunteers and staff.
The University of Technology Sydney chose to use an animated video as a way of communicating with their donors. The dragon fly view of the campus and what donated funds are being used for is a simple way of sharing the information without relying on a traditional newsletter.
Do you want attention for your school? A simple strategy is to make fun, or copy, something that is already popular. Parody is something many people are very willing to share via social media. Westminster School in Adelaide recently shared this post on their facebook page
“We farewelled our Year 12 students today, and one of the highlights from their final assembly was the Boy Boarders' item, showing what a talented group they are!”
“Our Boy Boarders' have made it big! Their parody video has reached almost 53,000 people so far through our facebook page alone.”
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.