Past Newsletters

Issue 606 - 25-JAN-2015

Cost Comparison of Australia’s School Systems

An article in Sydney’s major newspaper this week compares the cost of educating a child born this year in the public, systemic and private school systems in Australia.

The survey was done by the Australian Scholarships Group’s Planning for Education Index.  How they constructed their figures is not made clear.  If a parent reading the article had plans that their newborn baby would end up in a private school, it may make them think twice.  Then again, it may help them realise the overall cost of a private school education, and they start a savings plan.

>  Cost comparison of Australia's school systems

As a school marketer, we can use these articles to our advantage.  It can help us focus on what would cause a parent to choose a private school education, despite the long term cost.  It is important to continue to promote the benefits of your school.  The best form of marketing is word of mouth – current families telling other families.  Be sure to provide current families with plenty of great things to talk about.  It could also be time to consider conducting a survey of students, parents or teachers to gauge general satisfaction.  Surveys can highlight key issues that need to be addressed, and also areas of strength that can be utilised in promoting the school.  See the website for details on Surveys.

Issue 606 - 25-JAN-2015

Rave Review of the Diploma in School Marketing

Dirk Benson did the Diploma in School Marketing two years ago and we asked him to provide some feedback to a prospective student late last year.  It was so good to hear his news – too good not to share with the network!  If you need some inspiration for your school marketing this year, consider the Diploma in School Marketing.  Open now for enrolments. 

“I took on the course for a possible career change from teaching. I thought that marketing was about signs on buses and media advertising. By the end of the course I knew entirely differently.
This course will open your eyes to new opportunities, understandings and ways of doing things. You'll understand where and when to market, how to best place your school and the theory behind it all. You'll understand parents better too, and their wishes and needs.

The coursework and assignments are enjoyable, although intense. A lot is practical, so as you put together a marketing plan for your school, it will all make sense to you. You will learn a great deal from critiquing your own school too, and will better it in the marketplace.

The marketing plan you produce in itself is worth at least $15,000 for a consultant to do it, so your school will get a bargain. Then you'll have the skills to market any school and yourself much better. I did my plan on a Year 8 - 12 secondary school, which had to work hard for enrolments (current enrolment was 180). My research found that this tiny mountain community could sustain a Junior School of up to 90 students. The board approved the school, and the new Junior School for 5 - 12 year olds opens this month.  Last I heard there were 128 new enrolments!! This wasn't based on luck. It was based on understanding the community, its finances, its demographics, word of mouth, the opposition schools of which there are many, their strengths and weaknesses, our strengths and weaknesses, surveys, walking the streets, understanding perceptions etc. Your school can not lose if you do this. The cost of the Diploma is probably not even one enrolment. The school I did my project on is $1.5 million dollars better off because I did my project on it, and its future is secure. 

In the end I am still teaching, but I use factors of the course learning in my everyday teaching and parent relationships. The Head of School or Deputy should also do the course. It will change the way they think, and change the way teachers work too, particularly with parents."

Thanks Dirk!  Congratulations on the success you introduced to the school!

Diploma in School Marketing Registration Form Diploma in School Marketing Registration Form (689 KB)

Issue 606 - 25-JAN-2015

Unique Approach to Middle Years Education

The following video has been produced by Flinders Christian Community College.  It not only showcases their Carrum Downs Campus unique classroom space, it communicates why they have integrated these spaces into the schooling experience for middle years students.

By interviewing teachers and students, you get a great feel for how positive this unique approach to middle years education is.

Flinders, Carrum Downs campus is our host school on Day 2, Friday 12 June at this year’s School Marketing Aforia.  Early bird rate closes at the end of February.

Issue 605 - 14-DEC-2014

School Christmas Light Displays

Displaying Christmas lights can be a way to engage your community, or even just make them aware that you are there!

St Andrews Christian College in Victoria has flicked the switch on its first Christmas lights.  At the conclusion of the Presentation night in early December, families were excited to see the simple display up on the roof of the school hall switched on for the first time.  Melanie Lepileo, Registrar, took the idea of starting their Christmas light display from this year’s School Marketing Aforia.

Oxley Christian College  in Victoria are in their 9th year of the Christmas light display, which last year attracted 20,000 visitors!  It is the brainchild of a former student, with computer controlled lights, cleverly moved in time to music. 

Issue 605 - 14-DEC-2014

School multi-cultural Christmas celebrations

Western Christian Schools took the opportunity of Christmas to celebrate their multi-cultural school community by having international students introduce themselves, their family's country of origin and give a Christmas greeting in their native language. 

This simple video is something likely to be appreciated and shared by the families of these students.

Issue 605 - 14-DEC-2014

Christmas in Schools

Many schools use students in videos.  Writhlington School in the UK instead found some adventurous staff members and had them lip sync and dance their way through a Christmas song. It isn't included on their official YouTube channel but has generated a good number of views. Do you have some staff who would be willing and able to laugh at themselves? 

Issue 604 - 07-DEC-2014

Grow in your knowledge and skills in school marketing

If you are looking for some fresh ideas or school marketing focused reading material over the summer (or your winter), visit our online bookshop

The 6 month distance education Diploma in School Marketing is another way to advance your skills and invest in your career as a School Marketing professional.

Issue 604 - 07-DEC-2014

Be prepared when YouTube robots turn nasty

In a newsletter earlier this year, I endorsed YouTube as being my preferred platform for school videos:

> Why YouTube is best for schools 

This belief was dealt a blow when Covenant Christian School’s YouTube channel received a ‘Strike 1’ notification of a violation of Community Guidelines.
I didn’t understand why but with over 450 videos and 300,000 plus views I wasn’t too worried about losing a four year old video done by our German students. I decided not to appeal although it was flagged as “spam, scam or commercially deceptive” which didn’t seem appropriate given the student role play content.

I was shocked however that three days later the whole channel was terminated. Without any further notification. That is, it was AUTOMATICALLY deleted by YouTube. 450 black holes appeared in the school website and blogsite. Visitors were greeted with a message: “This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.”

Naturally I was nervous, especially after the amount of time and energy we have invested into this medium of communication within our community.
With the incredible size of YouTube there are many automated responses set up. One violation receives a ‘One Strike’ warning which hangs over your account for 6 months. Three violations results in automatic termination. If three viewers flagged any of your videos as inappropriate then it can set in motion an automated shutdown. 

The process to reinstate the account is not clear. There are many public forums of frustrated users. At one stage the channel was reinstated for a week. I chose to appeal the original German video. In response the channel was terminated again. The channel and all videos were all eventually reinstated after an agonisingly long three months – yet many channels never are.

Some lessons:
  • YouTube is a robot. Robots can be manipulated. As a robot it is relatively easy for your channel to be shut down out of spite by a student, disgruntled parent or random member of the public.
  • Relying on YouTube alone for storing and hosting videos is unwise. It can all disappear - permanently.   
  • YouTube doesn’t offer customer service for non-paying users.
  • You don’t own anything in social media. They can all be cancelled so be wary how much important you place on any one of them.
  • If you use QR codes in advertisements to direct to videos then make sure they are editable so can be redirected (we use QR Stuff)
  • Don’t panic – but have alternatives available. This is especially true if you were wanting to use a video for a specific time frame like promoting an upcoming event. YouTube can move painfully slowly – or not at all. We now use Vimeo for all important videos and upload most new videos to both channels.
  • Be proactive. As we display several YouTube videos on the home page of our website we added a notification to help visitors be aware of this. Plus we created an article in our popular Community blog, and on our facebook account to raise awareness within our community. We felt this was better than waiting for people to notice and comment.

Issue 603 - 30-11-2014

School Marketing Audits

As the year comes to a close for schools in the southern hemisphere, give some consideration to a marketing audit.  While the grounds are deserted it is the perfect time for an Appearance Audit.  As the school office is free of students, consider a Communication
.  As you review your school website and update it for the coming year, consider a Website Audit

The Audits are comprehensive but not onerous, and will provide some good input for future planning of these critical areas of marketing your school.

Issue 603 - 30-11-2014

Words to live by

Matt Church is the founder of Thought Leaders Global, and is one Australia’s foremost authorities on the topic of thought leadership and becoming a change agent He has some key phrases that he uses all the time.  Which one are you going to adopt this week? 

An insult's no bigger than you allow it to be.
Those who matter don't mind, those who mind don't matter.
If the answer is not yes, it's no.
If you need a quick answer, then it's no.
Don't be sad because it's over, be glad because it happened.
In the absence of clarity, make a decision.
You don't have to listen to everything you hear.

Issue 603 - 30-11-2014

Connection with MP led to mention in Parliament

Cain McDonald, Principal of Victory Lutheran College shared with us that the school had some amazing marketing this week from a local Member of Parliament, in Parliament!  

In her speech to Parliament, Cathy McGowan, MP for Indi, VIC, expressed how delighted she has been to be a guest to the school on a number of occasions, and mentioned her most recently meeting with the school Board and the Lutheran Parish Council.

In Cain’s words, “I believe the power of relationships with local Parliamentarians cannot be underestimated!  The proof that is has been such a powerful marketing tool is in the fact that the Facebook page has gone wild, and the hits to our website significantly increased this evening!”

You never know where word of mouth marketing is going to occur!  

> School mentioned in Parliament

Issue 602 - 23-NOV-2014

Immigration snapshot for Australian cities

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released a map of where Australia’s immigrants were born.  What it shows is that immigrants of a particular country tend to settle in similar regions.   For example, 11.4% of Melbourne’s immigrants were born in China, Malaysia 7.8% and India 5.7%.  

Understanding the changing demographics of your local community is an important aspect of market research.  This is covered in the Diploma of School Marketing.

> Map of where Australia's immigrants were born

Issue 602 - 23-NOV-2014

Dads in Class

Volunteers are some of the unsung heroes of our schools! Parents and community members work in instruction, service, fundraising, advisory and policy making roles in your school.  If you stopped to add them up, you may be surprised at the sizable army of unpaid workers who make your school hum.

Carson Elementary School in the USA has started the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program to tap into a group of previously untapped volunteers  - Dads! 

The program’s goal is to get every father to volunteer at least one day per year in their child’s classroom. Dads with more than one Carson student can volunteer on multiple days, or split one day between multiple classes. The school is encouraging dads to come in on their child’s birthday to make the event extra-special.

Several years ago, a survey found that about 80 percent of dads who participated in Watch D.O.G.S. then got involved in other school activities, such as PTSA or parent-teacher conferences.

> Program to bring more dads to class

The book ‘Working with Volunteers in Schools’, looks at who the volunteers are in your school, why they give their valuable time to you, the worth of that time and the rewards that volunteers seek in return for their gift of time.

Issue 602 - 23-NOV-2014

Centenary Celebration Ideas

As part of the 100-year anniversary of Geelong Grammar School's  Corio Campus, 100 Exceptional Stories celebrates the lives of 100 exceptional past students who attended Corio between 1914 and 2014. 

In October, a book was published that profiles an eclectic and interesting group of people who have achieved in an incredibly diverse range of fields, from cabinet minister James Fairbairn (M'14), who was killed in the 1940 Canberra Air Disaster, to leg amputee skier Cam Rahles-Rahbula (FB'02), who was the Australian flagbearer at the 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics. The profiles have been written by a team of accomplished Old Geelong Grammarian writers.  

The book is complemented by a series of video interviews that will be serialized on the School's website during 2014, featuring some of the School's 100 Exceptional Stories. Groups of four video interviews were released each school term in the lead-up to the October book launch.  

Watch the 100 Exceptional Stories Introduction and some individual video stories here


Issue ISSUE 601 - 16-NOV-2014

Lessons learned from a Community School Fair

One of our host schools for the School Marketing Aforia 2015 is Flinders Christian Community College, at their Carrum Downs Campus.  
They recently held an inaugural event in their school called the Flinders Carrum Downs Community Fair.  

Robyn, the Fair Coordinator, was happy to answer some questions about the event:

Q. What was the purpose of the Fair?

A. We wanted to provide something for our Community.  It was an opportunity for us to connect with the wider community and for them to connect with us.  We like to work closely with our community, supporting them in real and tangible ways, so by having this Fair we were hoping to make those connections.

Q. Did it achieve this purpose?
A. From the feedback I have received, there were quite  a lot of people who attended the Fair who were not directly connected with our school community.  They came to have a look at the school, and to join with us in the celebration.  We also had a number of stall holders and sponsors, who were businesses and charity organisations that were given the opportunity to promote their goods and services.  This was a way that we felt we could support our local community.

Q. Are you planning to hold it every year? 
A. Our intention is to hold this event every two years, providing we are satisfied that the purposes of the Fair are met.

Q. What was some of the feedback or stories you received from the Fair?
A. We have enjoyed lots of great feedback….

I had an extremely awesooooooome time at the community fair!!!!! (Grade 3 student)
Thank you very much for the community fair. I hope it was not too much stress :)  I especially liked the fireworks and the rides. :):) (Grade 3 student)
It brought my brother in law and sister in law and their family into the school – and they only live off Greenwood Drive and have never been inside our gate! What a great incentive for our college!!! (Flinders staff member)
I spoke to two prospective parents. They don't have a child at our school as their children haven't started yet. I was able to speak to them about the heart of the school etc. What an amazing opportunity for these families to see our school outside of the "normal" school tours. Well done on an amazing initiative. (Flinders teacher)
Well done!!!!!!!!!!! All my children loved the fair and thought it was much better than what they had anticipated. (Parent)
I would just like to say thank you to the Committee involved in organising the Fair.  It was a very enjoyable experience for my family – very well organised and planned.The fireworks were really wonderful! (Member of the public)

The staff and students who were there to welcome and assist people as they arrived were extremely helpful and friendly.  And the musical entertainment was of a very high standard…..It was  a particularly fine effort, especially for an inaugural event.  (Parent)

Q. How do you know it's been a success?
A. When the positive feedback far outweighs the negative feedback.  The school community and the wider community had a great time of fun and connection, and this has been communicated in many different ways eg. emails, testimonials, moodle messages, text messages, Facebook and letters.

Q. What would you do differently next time?
A. More signage to help with clearer communication, find ways to include the secondary students more, provide more food with some more healthy choices, perhaps do a more ‘unplugged’ stage act so there is a more intimate setting where people can talk around tables and chairs, an outdoor café style setting.

Thank you Robyn, and congratulations to Flinders on a successful first Fair!   
As you plan an event, be clear about what you want the event to achieve, or the purpose of the event.  Then take time after the event reviewing whether that purpose was achieved.  You could make notes as to what improvements could be made so you have it on hand to refer to when planning the next event.  Also, asking for feedback will help you understand what was important to, or most enjoyed by, the people who attended.

Take a tour of Carrum Downs Campus on Day 2 of the School Marketing Aforia 2015.

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

Issue iSSUE 601 - 16-NOV-2014

Share diversity of student testimonials with video

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.  What also becomes clear through the videos is the values and beliefs of the College. 

See the whole series at: > Trinity Christian College

Here is an example from the series.

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