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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
In promoting the morning on their website, they empathise with prospective families by showing an understanding of the process of choosing a school :
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?’
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".
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?
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.
The Icebucket Challenge, to raise awareness of ALS http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html, 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.
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.
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 Pierson.
Join us. Together we can learn, share ideas and tell the unique story of our school community.