1. Schools are facing real marketing challenges. Across the country, they're aware of new free schools, academies, new Sixth Form provision, demographic changes and challenges from competitors and OFSTED. They want to improve their provision, create stronger links with their communities, keep in touch with and raise money from former students and recruit and retain the best teachers (and, yes, recruitment was a major issue!).
2. There's a growing acknowledgement that marketing, done properly, provides solutions to these problems. School leaders know that 'we have to do marketing' and are prepared to take the risk of taking time from school to spend time learning about marketing and working hard on marketing plans.
3. However, awareness of the full definition of (and power of) marketing is lacking. Almost without exception, school leaders initially saw marketing as 'promotion' or 'advertising' at the start of the course. But once they saw the wider role of marketing as listening, innovating and communicating they were able to start working out how a marketing approach could help their schools in many different ways.
4. Bringing senior leaders, teachers, business managers and marketing professionals together works well. Many of the best results from the sessions came from schools who sent two people to the event from different parts of the school - they were able to take different perspectives, bounce ideas off each other and validate solutions. Working with other similar schools also helped.
5. Schools aren't always aware of the cheaper elements of the marketing mix. At the end of the course schools were looking forward to spending time exploring social media, email newsletters, community advertising and networking; rather than spending money on advertising or highly-complex websites.
6. Social media both excites and worries schools. Schools know that they need to connect with their communities and know that social media can help them. But they're also well aware of the risks of social media and the need to safeguard their students and their wider reputation.
7. Adults don't give as much feedback as children A personal reflection, but it was something that caught me out a bit. When I teach children they're very quick to tell me what they do and don't understand. Adults are a bit more polite and can sit there for a while feeling left behind! When I next train adults my number one resolution is to ask more questions and make sure that everyone is engaged at all times!
For details of future training courses, click here