Past Newsletters

Issue 600 - 09-NOV-2014

Are School Textbooks a Marketing Issue?

When visiting Victory Lutheran College Principal Cain McDonald showed me the library. It was wonderful with a lovely colour scheme, creative seating and lots of books. As it was the last few days of school, students were returning textbooks. The school, rather than parents, purchased the textbooks and loaned them to students for the year. It is an expense for the school, but it simplifies things for the parents.  

Other schools give parents a list of what to purchase. Some parents always buy new, others will ask friends with older children for hand-me-downs or arrange to buy them second hand. Some online services like TextBook Exchange are becoming popular for buying and selling, although this one relates to University textbooks only at this point.

At Covenant Christian School a team of parents hold a second hard textbook sale on the last Saturday of the school year. It is very popular with parents selling books who drop them off earlier in the week. Parents wanting to save some money come to the sale. This is a positive way of helping families. Yet there are often long queues on the Saturday morning and limited stock. In the final weeks of school so much time is invested into a year book, graduation ceremonies, special assemblies and thank you morning teas, yet long lines at the second hand textbook sales have the potential to counteract some of these feel good activities.

To think on:  If parents are going to talk about a positive or negative experience at your school then it becomes a marketing issue. Word of mouth marketing is your most powerful tool so take an interest in anything which may lead to a negative experience, even textbook sales.

Issue 600 - 09-NOV-2014

Getting your ideas across

Nancy Duarte’s passion is to help shape ideas into presentations which are designed to shift audience beliefs and behaviours in their organisations, communities, and world.  Her 18 minute TED talk will teach you how to structure a speech or presentation, if you are wanting to take an idea, and communicate that idea effectively. 

> The secret of an excellent presentation

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Issue 600 - 09-NOV-2014

Simple Tweaks To Boost Enrolment Enquiries

The following is an article from our guest speaker at the School Marketing Aforia 2015, Mike Leembruggen.

In my quest to achieve higher online enrolment enquiries for schools, I’m constantly testing a number of variables for optimum conversion rate.

Here’s the results of our latest test:

That’s quite a jump from 9.52% to 20.59% conversion rate. That gets me excited. 116.18% improvement is fantastic.

There’s no external promotion or campaign that would otherwise have boosted these results and still we see a massive improvement in day to day enrolment enquiries by changing a few key elements on the website.
This particular test was aimed at the enquiry form button. We tested a few different styles and a few alternate text variations on the button to see which would convert better.

So, the big question… What was the winning variation you ask?

The winning variation used the text “Continue” on the button and the simple grey background outperformed a more fancy graphical version. If you are using the standard “submit” text on your buttons, change it!  You are losing out on more and more enrolment enquiries every day.

If you would like to find out more about this test and how I can help you boost your school enrolments, I will be covering this topic as part of one of my session at the School Marketing Aforia in June 2015.  I'd love to meet you there.

Yours in success
Mike Leembruggen
Online Marketing for Schools

Access the School Marketing Aforia brochure and registration form here

School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form School Marketing Aforia 2015 Brochure & Registration Form (2111 KB)

Issue 599 - 02-NOV-2014

Multiple School Campus Website Design

If you have a multi campus school, it can be difficult to know how to create a website that represents each campus well, without it becoming too complicated, or content heavy.

A school in Cambridge, MA, USA, Buckingham Browne & Nichols, has three separate campuses and over 1,000 students.  Their new website represents their Lower, Middle and Upper Schools, while maintaining a unified look and feel.  They have organised content-heavy pages without taking away from the site's clean design. An interactive drop-down navigation and colour-coded news and events has been incorporated into their new site, making it easy for visitors to find relevant information without feeling overwhelmed.

> Three campus website example

Issue 599 - 02-NOV-2014

Beyond the Classroom

Is it worth shutting down classes for a day to serve your local community? We often stop lessons for a sports carnival or a musical.  Yet have we thought about what message this sends to our students? 

When Logos School in Moscow, Idaho, stopped classes to pack boxes for the needy the story was picked up by the local media. The reporter quoted the school's marketing and development director, Gene Liechty, saying, "We educate them everyday. Now it's time to grow their hearts.”

> School Puts Down Pencils to Help Needy

Issue 598 - 26-OCT-2014

Animated videos

There are so many ways to create a promotional video of your school.  One idea is to use animation to get a message across.  Emanuel School used it as part of their fundraising video, featured here in our April newsletter.

As an another example, a US company, YDraw, have created an effective promotional video.  It is unusual in that it has no narration, but through animation you are left in no doubt as to their message.

> Ydraw Animation Video

Issue 598 - 26-OCT-2014

Spam traffic hits school website

How accurate are your website statistics? When Covenant Christian School’s website visits went up by almost 40% in one week earlier this year it wasn’t because of exciting events at school or enrolment enquiries. It was robots and spammers.

Weekly ReportList of Countries

One of the few downsides of an extensive school website is that it becomes more attractive to people not interested in your educational offering. In the week of increased hits the website engine was flooded with spammers attempting to make comments on blogposts. Each comment needs to be manually approved so they were wasting their time – and that of the website administrators. The school then instigated comments using as visitors need to sign in as a guest or via social media.

Interestingly the main source of spam visits was not identified as China or Russia. This time is was supposedly the United States.
The Australian statistics for the week showed 3,728 visits, resulting in 10,612 page views. With a school of 850 students from 470+ families that number makes sense and is the one the school focuses on.

A report in 2013 found that 61% of all internet traffic was robots. This had jumped from 51% in a year. Most robots are good but they do inflate statistics.

> BOT Traffic Report 2013 

So, next time you get excited about an increase of visits to your website take a closer look. The real measure of your school website is its engagement with your own community.

Issue 597 - 19-Oct-2014

School at Work Information Morning

Oxley Christian College has come up with a novel way of promoting what is traditionally known as an Open Morning.  They call it a “School at work Information Morning”

In promoting the morning on their website, they empathise with prospective families by showing an understanding  of the process of choosing a school :

“Choosing a school for your child is an important decision.  It is more than researching via a website, looking at buildings and grounds or asking friends and neighbours for their recommendation.”

They have a call to action :

"We invite you to visit our school, understand our school culture and experience the atmosphere that sets Oxley apart.  Discover how Oxley Christian College can meet the educational needs of your son or daughter!"

They explain the purpose and benefits of attending the morning :

"School At Work mornings allow for prospective parents to attend Oxley and to see the school in action, to get a ‘feel’ for the place.  While open days are an excellent opportunity to see the school in full colour, School At Work mornings allow parents to see the school on a normal school day, observe the behaviour of our students, meet our friendly teachers and leadership team, ask questions regarding our curriculum and tour our fantastic facilities."

And finally, what to expect :

"During a School at Work you will experience:
An address from the Principal
Morning tea with key staff and an opportunity to ask questions
A school tour, customised to the interests and age of your child
School at Work sessions commence at 9.30am and conclude around 11.45am."

Can you identify something that your school already does that could be refreshed or tweaked, even with a change of words, to bring a different approach?

Issue 597 - 19-Oct-2014

Expand Your Marketing Qualification, Practically

When thinking of career advancement or salary increase, experience is important, but a candidate with formal training qualifications can attract a better package.  The Diploma in School Marketing was originally created to help school marketers obtain a qualification with practical outworking in their school environment.  It can give you a respected qualification to support your experience.  Over the years Principals, Heads of School, administration staff and PA’s have graduated.  Visit this page for a myriad of testimonials or we can put you in touch with someone to hear about their Diploma experience firsthand.

The CMS Diploma in School Marketing is a one-semester course by distance learning. The qualification confirms that the applicant has undertaken rigorous and practical training in school marketing, can apply marketing techniques to education, can source and interpret demographic data, can create a SWOT analysis, can interpret the competition and can write a Style Guide and a Strategic Marketing Plan that is relevant to a school.

Issue 597 - 19-Oct-2014

World Teachers' Day

World Teachers’ Day was inaugurated in 1994 to celebrate the role of teachers in society.  Internationally the day is celebrated on 5 October, and in Australia, on the last Friday of October – this year, the 31st.

How could you acknowledge this month the great role of teachers in contributing to the lives of the children in your school?

Several years ago, one school used World Teachers’ Day to place an ad in their local newspaper commending their teachers on their fine work. The advertisement was in school colours with the school’s logo and a photograph of the Principal chatting with students. The words read from the Principal, and the whole school community, “join together in congratulating all College teaching staff on assisting our students to be the best they can be . . .”

This is an example of excellent school marketing! Clever marketers see opportunities at every turn.

For a little light hearted relief, watch this amateur, tongue in cheek YouTube video on the different types of school teachers.  Hopefully you don’t recognise too many from your school!

> Different types of teachers

Issue 596 - 12-Oct-2014

The law of the ridiculous reverse

This article, from a UK publication, whilst being cynical of school marketing, does provide some very practical ideas and insight.

> Choosing Secondary school: a teachers guide for parents

Here are more highlights to consider:
"The relationship between promotional material and reality is not always close. More than one teacher has found themselves gazing on the angelic hard-working children (often wearing safety glasses, a lab coat and a studious look) pictured on an advert for their own school before realising that one of the children in the picture has so far been responsible for a hundred disrupted classes, two flooded toilet blocks and an early retirement.

"The late Simon Hoggart coined the phrase "the law of the ridiculous reverse", which states that if the opposite of a statement is plainly absurd, it was not worth making in the first place. School marketing literature is a veritable treasure trove of such statements:  "We are committed to high standards" as opposed to "We aim to fail.”  Or, "We demand the highest standards of behaviour" as opposed to "Teachers gather to place bets on student fights." Or, "We aim to ensure all our pupils fulfil their potential" as opposed to "We only care about a few, and the rest can colour in pictures for seven years."

The article suggests parents should "speak to the students. Many schools will use students as guides on open evenings. Talk to them about their experience. Students tend to be honest about such things – occasionally brutally so. If the school doesn't let you near its students, that's not a good sign.”

Issue 596 - 12-Oct-2014

Spring Clean Your School Website

One way to stay relevant and functional in your online presence is to spring clean your website.  Follow these suggestions, or have a parent who loves proof reading to do it for you:

Dust your ‘About Us’ page
How long has it been since you checked the facts on your ‘About us’ page? Are your statistics still relevant and your most recent successes included? This is your chance to introduce yourself to prospective families, so make sure it's an informative and engaging experience.

Update your ‘Contact Us’ info
You may have new staff or a change of position title.  Check your Contact Us page to ensure these details are correct.
Go through your home page and if you have time, read your whole website
When was the last time you had someone read your website from 'cover to cover'?  If it's been a while, take this as an opportunity to see exactly what your visitors see, and find out if there are any problems along the way i.e.: events that have long gone, forms that are out of date.

Follow all your links
There are few browsing experiences more frustrating than trying to navigate a website filled with broken links. However, if you have an agile site that allows you to move content around and insert and remove products, it's inevitable that dead links will appear. Use free tools like Broken Link Checker  to your advantage.

Search for yourself
Hop off your website for a moment and try searching for some key terms related to your brand. If you see Google snippets with “oops” or “page not allowed by webmaster” or titles that trail off halfway through, it's time to do a little maintenance and check your metadata, content, links and permissions.

If you are looking at reviewing your website, a good place to start is to do a Website Audit 
School Website Audit

Issue 595 - 3-Oct-2014

Using technology for learning

St Stephen’s School in Western Australia has a Director of iEducation, Stephen Corcoran, whose primary leadership role is to integrate ICT into the classrooms.  The school is a large, multi campus independent K-12 school with approximately 2900 students and 380 staff.  Stephen represents the link between teaching and learning and mobile technologies.

One of the projects Stephen is responsible for is called many2one where the tagline is “Rather than educating people to use technology, let’s use technology to educate people”.  The many2one website provides a place where parents and students can find out the ‘how to’ of technology in their school environment.  There is also a blog linked to the website, where we found this video that educates parents on how to log in, comment on and subscribe to their child’s class blog.  

Providing such information helps create a link between parents and their children, and parents and the school.

Even if your school doesn’t have the luxury of a Director of iEducation, creating a quick video to teach parents how to access technology can support them in an area that they may feel lost in.  When parents feel supported by the school, even in these seemingly little areas, it creates a word of mouth opportunity, as  they’re more likely to talk about the extras they receive that they didn’t expect.

Issue 595 - 3-Oct-2014

Conducting School Audits

What does the word ‘audit’ conjure up in your mind? In schools an audit can be a boring, time consuming and at times threatening process. While an audit is accepted as an essential part of providing education it is often something staff wish to avoid! The dictionary describes the word ‘audit’ as ‘the inspection or examination of a building or other facility to evaluate or improve its appropriateness, efficiency, safety or the like’.

The two words EVALUATE and IMPROVE jump out from this definition. Isn’t that what we as school marketers seek to do?  To improve things so the school can be represented as well as possible to current and prospective families. Is it time you took an audit of your school marketing?

The three School Audits available are: School Marketing Audit
Following is a testimonial from Susan Curtin, Registrar at Macquarie Anglican Grammar   

Every once in a while you need to step back and view the big picture at your school, whether you like what you see or not! This has helped me do that. The Communication Audit through the Style Guide gave me a new set of marketing tools to help me take an overview of the way the school presents itself.
The step-by-step process engaged me throughout and I felt a strong sense of achievement working through it. The audit was clear, precise and gave me the confidence I needed to complete my own style guide.   
My marketing juices were inspired to flow with every chapter and I felt self-assurance with every page!

Issue 594 - 14-Sept-2014

Timing of School Announcements

When you confidently build a campus for 850 students and only grow to 300 it causes problems.

Murdoch College recently announced they would relocate to a high rise city building. The school has been located on the grounds of a University in Perth. After the announcement the College website did not mention the changes and was still promoting the existing attractions of the College.

When what originally attracted enrolments to your school is no longer on offer families can either embrace change or respond with "this is not what I signed up for" and leave.

Wherever possible, when making announcements about your school factor in the timing to allow changes to your website and social media so the message is consistent. For some families the move to the city campus would be a great attraction so presenting the new vision with the announcement could generate fresh enrolments.

> High Rise School Set for Perth City Centre

Issue 594 - 14-Sept-2014

Let your student testimonials promote your school

Brindabella Christian College in ACT, Australia has produced a simple but powerful video of student testimonials.  The school’s tagline on their website is ‘Well known Well loved Well taught’.  This comes through strongly in the responses of the students to the question ‘What do you like about Brindabella?’ 

Student testimonies * from Brindabella Christian College on Vimeo.

Issue 594 - 14-Sept-2014

School Helps Connect the Generations

Oran Park Anglican College has recently held their annual Grandparents Day.  It was a great success with over 300 grandparents in attendance.  The Day is an opportunity to connect extended family in a school community event and the story was picked up by the local media.

School marketer, Steve Moynan, contacted the local newspaper with the story.   The newspaper sent a photographer on the day and followed up with a phone call for a media briefing. The story conveys so well the joy of the Day, from the kids having their grandparents at school, to the grandparents connecting with  their grandchildren, and each other.  The story also conveys the caring of the school to have considered students whose grandparents couldn't come.  They extended an invitation to the local retirement village for surrogate grandparents to come for the day and connect with children who didn't have a grandparent there.

The other way around this is to make it a "Grandparents and Special Friends Day".

> Day Connects Two Generations

(Acknowledgement to South West Advertiser, photographer Jonathon Ng)

Issue 593 - 7-Sept-2014

Your School’s Social Media Policy

When it comes to your school’s Social Media policy, its one thing to have one … it's another thing to implement it well.  Even if your school parents know what it says, do they understand what they are agreeing to when they enrol?  Have you educated your parents on what is and isn’t appropriate in social media as far as comments are concerned?  Have you taken time to show them how you will manage the conversations in the space?

> Four-year-old boy expelled after mother took to Facebook to complain about 'ignorant' staff

This article discusses how a four year old boy’s position at a school was discontinued.  The mother puts it down to her comment on facebook.  Whether or not that is the reason, what it does show is that by commenting on her personal facebook page and tagging the school’s name, the school was able to see the comment, and take action in response. What this mother thought was a simple comment on facebook, where the post was potentially contained to her friends in her own network, escalated and was picked up by the media.

This can be a minefield if not thought through properly.  One of the largest parts of social management for a school lies not in simply the uploading of new content, but managing the comments that they generate or any posts that are made.

Has your school thought through how to respond to comments on Facebook, whether it is on the school’s facebook page, or a parent or student’s personal page, where the school may be tagged?  What would you do differently if you were faced with this scenario? 
Whilst this paper has been developed for the US market, there are some good tips about where to start to develop social media guidelines for your school.

> Social Media Guidelines

If you need more input into how to do social media in your school, consider investing in a copy of the book by industry expert, David Rawlings 501 Great Social Media Ideas for Schools  or engaging his input for your school via his website.  There are ideas on managing risk and privacy in his book. David was a highly regarded speaker at our last School Marketing Aforia.

Issue 593 - 7-Sept-2014

Ice Bucket Challenge and Schools

The Icebucket Challenge, to raise awareness of ALS, has gone viral since it began in June this year.  One school, Saint Joseph Catholic School in Athens, USA, has taken the opportunity to ride the wave of the challenge’s popularity.  Their choice to get involved was to not only fundraise for ALS, but to honour a former student of the school who died from the disease. 

How can your school take advantage of a local or global craze to fundraise or develop community? Crazes like this are short lived and sentiment towards them can change.  School marketers need to evaluate when to embrace the craze, and when to avoid it.

> Read the Article

Issue 592 - 31-Aug-2014

School expands based on Market Research for School Marketing Diploma

Based on the demographic research done by a student doing the Diploma in School marketing student in 2013, a secondary school in Australia has decided to expand to primary in 2015. The student did extensive research as part of Module 1, which identifies market position, demographics, target markets and market segmentation.   What a great discovery for the school. Doing this sort of research may help your school identify areas of future growth and new target markets.  You will also gain a clear Marketing plan and budget, and a School Style Guide.

> Diploma in School Marketing