In Australia, one in five students is educated in a Catholic school. The movement is healthy and growing. However, in the USA it is a different story. It is good for us, as school marketers, to understand that society expectations and demographics can change dramatically and none of our schools are guaranteed to survive.
When Northern Beaches Christian School opened their latest building, the Manhattan & The City precinct, they used a stunning fly-through video which was created by two students. This building project is a fairly radical educational design concept for schools.
Your teachers are the face of your school. They are the ones who create the experiences for students. They are the ones students talk about to their parents and friends. The general word-of-mouth conversations about your school has more to do with your teachers than your facilities, events or academic record.
If academic results is what your Primary school is known for then in your next enrolment interview you could consider asking parents these unusual, and potentially controversial, questions;
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For their Spring Fair Arden Anglican School school in Sydney chose to have colouring in competition. Part of their promotion included “This year the world has been taken by storm with the ‘Back to the Future’ craze of colouring-in. So join the craze and colour away. Go on – you know you want to!!!”
Last year I attended this fascinating two day conference and ran a workshop. This year I have been invited back and will be running a half day workshop on school marketing. If you work in an international school, or are seeking to understand the dramatic changes happening in the international market of education, this event is well worthwhile.
Rachel Wilkinson, Marketing Manager at Moreton Bay Boys' College wanted to try something new to stand out in the lead up to their Open Day. In the past they had used billboards, bus advertising and traditional media. This year they ventured into new territory - taxi back advertising. Enjoy reading about the response…
“We developed a highly visual campaign with limited words to maximise the impact of the imagery. We used our students and teachers. Even though it was in the lead up to our Open Day we wanted this campaign to be a straight brand awareness campaign for us as too much detail on a moving vehicle is hard to read and take in.”
“We used Rova Taxi media and ran a concurrent social media campaign to encourage our community to spot the cabs and post to their Facebook page. There were terms and conditions to the competition which involved posting the image to personal pages and adding the open day date.”
“The stats and engagement on our Facebook page speak for themselves. On my insights page where I compare other schools and institutions, we rated higher for engagement on the day I posted our ads than the University of Queensland with their 50,000 students (we have 500) We have had our taxi ads shared over 100 times within our community and the engagement on our Facebook page is the largest it has even been in the history of the page.”
“We were originally nervous about taking a risk with this kind of outdoor advertising but by monitoring with a social media competition and by getting our community on board to spot the ads, sharing on Facebook and taking photos the result has been extremely high shares, exposure and engagement exceptional.”
How easy is it for prospective teachers to research your school? Here are some questions to consider:
How do we want our students to define themselves? Is it by their looks, facebook accounts, choice of music or brand of clothes they wear? Or do we want more for them? This emotive video by Girls Preparatory School doesn’t take a long time to say a lot. In 74 seconds this video reveals something of the school facilities and opportunities but most importantly their philosophy. It speaks to a particular type of student and parent so helps define their target audience.
Some schools still only treat their website as a marketing tool for prospective parents. More schools are now utilising their websites as a vital and timely tool for reassuring current parents and providing regular information.
“Nurturing reading whilst embracing technology.” That is the tagline for Chelsea Preparatory School in Durban South Africa this year. The tagline appears on their website, in newsletters but also in their email footer. A graphic of five students holding books and tablets is a visual demonstration reinforcing their key message. One of their newsletters urges, whilst talking about their tablet program, “Please don’t ever forget the power of reading. We will be encouraging the children to read for enjoyment this year and hope our parents will join us in this venture.”
Module Three of the Diploma in School Marketing requires students to conduct a self appraisal of their customer service skills. I found this recent response refreshingly honest.
“I am not a great listener. I often finish sentences before a speaker. I listen primarily for facts rather than emotions. When I am upset I may give a negative attitude on the phone and in person. I dislike criticism, am defensive to customer complaints and do not like change!”
Video is a powerful tool for school marketing. Prospective parents expect the Principal, Registrar and teachers to say good things about their school. They are paid to. That’s why parent and student testimonies are so much more powerful. Central Coast Grammar School have created a series of six videos under the title ‘Student Voices.’ Each video introduces a different student. The variety of ages and gender help give prospective parents, and students, a greater chance of identifying with themselves.
Many schools hide the identity of their Registrar or Enrolments Manager behind generic ‘enrolment’ email addresses on their website. In contrast Central Coast Grammar School helps prospective parents by introducing their Registrar Sarah Barker with:
This week we received an email from Central Coast Grammar School as part of their 30th birthday celebrations. It had a simple message and a link to a 41 second video.
The brief message read “A huge thank you to our present and past community of students, parents, teachers and partners for our three decades of incredible success. 30 years of achievements, 30 years of growth, 30 years of gratitude”They acknowledge that the video was created by a past student Tom Caska.
YouTube is a wonderful tool for school marketers. The service has its issues but also continues to evolve with features. A video by the University of Tampa Florida helps prepare prospective new for what to expect when they come for a tour. It includes;
A tip from Greg Pendlebury of Think-write Consulting is a good reminder for school marketers who are often working with documents written by educators.
Jean Christie from Emmanuel College in Warrnambool Victoria recognises the need to help new students, and parents, to be able to identify and know more about staff. She makes a booklet with photos of and biographies of teachers and gives it to all new, and Year 7 families, starting at the College.
This promotional video for Maranatha Christian School combines an introduction and welcome from the Principal before students perform a lip sync of a popular song. It is an interesting combination. Lip syncing school videos are popular, easily shareable and can show lots of students and facilities. However they rarely say much about the school culture or beliefs so this is an attempt to mix the two elements.
When I was at school six to eight students would be crammed into a teacher's large 4WD, dropped off at a lake with school canoes and picked up 90 minutes later. As a group of adventurous teenagers we had a great unsupervised time including exploring creeks and drainage tunnels.
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.