More details of the RNC's 'I Can' campaign can be found here.
Thanks to Tim Broome at the Royal National College for the Blind, Hereford, for sending a link to this video. The college uses an interview to talk about the personal impact the college makes. Much more impressive than a list of benefits or a talk from a senior member of staff!
More details of the RNC's 'I Can' campaign can be found here.
Thanks to Kylie Wilkinson of 'Love Your School' who sent through a link to this video - the winner of a competition between state schools in New South Wales, Australia to create a promotional video. It's great to know that schools are creating great videos around the world - please put your favourite links in the comments section!
Against a background of nationally falling rolls in independent (private) schools, Solihull School, an independent school in Warwickshire, England founded in 1560, knew that it needed marketing to meet two clear objectives. One was to make sure that it was attracting as many pupils as possible from the areas served by its existing and expanding transport network. The other was to attract new parents by countering growing perceptions that independent education was unaffordable.
To further inform the marketing process, Rachel Hadley-Leonard, Head of Marketing at Solihull, undertook a detailed postcode analysis of current and past pupils. She said, ‘of course we didn’t know at this point what the saturation point of each area was but we knew how many were coming from each area. We found areas of growth and areas of stagnation.’
Given the information from the postcode analysis and the need to focus on transport routes, Rachel knew that the solution was to move away from traditional print advertising and explore direct mail. She worked closely with the Royal Mail’s marketing services team and was impressed by both the responsive service she received and the accuracy of marketing that direct mail offered.
‘We were able to select from a potential 95,000 households in our target areas by a wide range of criteria – we could choose those with 9-11 year olds, or older ones for Sixth Form campaigns. We could choose social class (A1 etc) or income. Each time the Royal Mail team came back with feasibility studies – we did this 30 or more times until we were happy’.
In parallel with the data selection, Solihull used existing design templates to produce an A5 flyer to be used as the mail drop. It had a clear message on each side. One side showed the school’s new and existing transport routes, the other focused on bursaries and scholarships available at the school. To ensure that the flyer was seen as different to other direct mail material the school paid a premium to have it printed on card.
The mailshot took place in the first week of September 2014, three weeks before the school’s first (and biggest) Open Day. Even with their extensive preparation, the marketing team were still apprehensive. Rachel said ‘it was still a gamble in a way – we didn’t know if it would work’.
However it was clear that the mailshot had worked. As the only major change to their marketing from the previous year, Rachel credits the mailshot, which cost only £5,500 ($8,700), for the 15-20% increase seen in enquiries in the run up to the Open Event and in attendance on the day. There was also strong anecdotal feedback. Rachel said ‘people said they liked the personal focus on their area’.
Due to the success of this initial campaign, Solihull are planning their next campaign – focusing this time on recruitment for their Junior School and using their new squirrel mascots – ‘Scuffle and Twitch’. In terms of learnings from their first mailshot, Rachel is clear, ‘you need to spend time planning your campaign and creating the flyers’. She is also learning more about direct marketing innovation – for example taking a close interest in the insights marketing guru Geoff Ramm offers.
St Mary’s R.C. Primary School, Levenshulme is a mid-sized state primary in a suburb of Manchester. The catchment is fairly mixed, with a higher than average proportion of pupils receiving free school meals (FSM) and having English as an additional language (EAL). A new Headteacher was appointed in 2011, bringing a renewed vision and a fresh perspective to this well-established voluntary-aided school.
One of the first things to be commissioned from a local designer was a new logo, designed to symbolise the Christian beliefs which underpin the ethos of the school and the exciting new vision being unveiled. The previous identity was a traditional design, paired with a staid burgundy and yellow colour palette. In comparison the new design depicts an angel with open wings in a bold and more contemporary palette.
The fresh colour theme was applied to all communication materials, from a basic Word template which could be applied to all policies, to new letterhead and compliments slips and branded stickers for exercise books.
A new website was designed and launched which has proved very popular with all members of the school community. It is kept up to date and conveys the bright, open feel of the school.
When budget permitted, external signage was replaced with huge impact, together with the use of coloured vinyls onto windows to bring the branding to life for the pupils and staff throughout the site. Finally, a new uniform was launched (navy sweatshirts to replace the previous burgundy ones).
In summary, significant changes in teaching and learning were already well underway at St Mary’s, but investing in these visual changes has accelerated the transformation of the school by actively demonstrating, internally and externally, a new vision and aspirations. Pupils, parents, staff and governors can readily articulate the considerable changes that have taken place, which has maintained momentum and built engagement.
Flick through the slideshow below to see how St Mary's has used the new logo and design across digital and physical media.
Sharing video is a great way of showcasing your school. Previous video Gallery posts have used YouTube, but Vimeo is an interesting alternative. It's a very flexible video-sharing platform and videos can be shared very quickly via your website or social media. For example, this article gives three different, and easy, ways to embed video on your website.
The example below comes from Whitefield Primary School in Liverpool and celebrates how the school develops a love of reading. If you've a few minutes, I'd recommend looking around the school's website and seeing how effectively it uses a range of technology to communicate to parents and the wider community. And if you like the message, please share it yourself (just click on the paper airplane)!
Dover College in Kent is a small independent day and boarding school near London. It's also a school that is keen to show off what it's really like to study there, and as the school says 'to show that a private school can be a fun place as well as a place to learn'.
Over 60 videos have been shot during the past 2 years and uploaded to the school's YouTube channel. They cover formal events and some great musical performances as well as personal guides to the the school shot by students. There's also a fair sprinkling of 'fun' - such as the recent Christmas video below.
Video is more and more important in school marketing and Dover College has taken the opportunity to involve the whole community in the process - with some excellent results and over 11,000 views to date!
Brendan Schneider had not been long in post as Director of Admissions at Sewickley Academy in Pittsburgh, USA, when the economic downturn hit - leading the school on a journey to reinvent marketing for a digital age and Brendan on a larger mission to re-educate school marketers!
He takes up the story,
'When the U.S. Stock Market crashed in October 2008 we almost immediately noticed an impact on our recruiting. Our interest indicators; inquiries, applications, and visits, began to decline and trended downward all school year. As a result we immediately began to brainstorm ideas to help stop the downward trend. Our first efforts though led us to outbound ('traditional') marketing techniques we hadn't tried in the past including the use of billboards, advertising in Pittsburgh International Airport, and hyper-targeting our direct mail campaigns. The problem was that all of those efforts did not help to increase our inquiries, applications, and visits.
"We next turned to social media and launched our Facebook page and Twitter account. We thought that social media would solve our problems. We were wrong! Social media by itself did not help to solve the problem - while we increased our number of likes and followers our inquiries, applications, and visits didn't increase.
"While we were trying these other techniques I picked up a copy of Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. I was hooked - I knew we had to try inbound marketing. I purchased a copy of the book for my Head of School to read and he was willing to give inbound marketing a try".
Inbound marketing is all about creating content that will encourage people to learn about your school, as well as making sure that potential parents and students can find it by ensuring the content is easily found on search engines and shared on social media. It reflects the fact that most consumers use technology to find solutions to their problems.
For a good example of how inbound marketing works itself, try Googling 'private schools in Pittsburgh'. Not only do you quickly reach Sewickley's website, but you also find yourself drawn to a range of interesting blogs - written by staff, parents, alumni and students. You're also encouraged to sign up to new blog posts or to share them with your social media contacts. The Academy's YouTube site has a similar feel - rather than a formal admissions video, there's a real insight into the school - and it's interesting to see that the most shared videos show students talking about their own views of the Academy.
So, what has been the impact of this change? Brendan has some good news to report - 'Last school year our inquiries, applications, and visits all saw great increases and I equate that positive difference to inbound marketing.'
What advice would Brendan give to other schools looking to improve their marketing?
'I'm still surprised that schools have been so slow to even experiment with inbound marketing. Simply putting your social media icons in non-digital marketing is not enough. The schools that are doing it well try to engage their audience in the non-digital space with a call-to-action guiding them to social media - hopefully using a vanity/tracking URL' - monitoring what works is a key part of inbound marketing.
Given the evolving nature of technology, it's not surprising that neither Brendan nor Sewickley are not standing still. When asked what he's most excited about, Brendan replies,
'Great question! I'm constantly reading and participating on social media channels looking for new ideas and how I can apply them to marketing my school. I think a school should ask themselves three questions before launching a new social media channel: 1. Is their current or prospective audience on the channel?, 2. What are the goals of using the channel and how will they measure their efforts?, 3. Finally, who will create content and manage the channel? A school must answer these questions before they launch then make a determination if it's smart for their school to participate in the channel. We conducted webinars last year and just released the first eBook for our school. I'm already thinking about our next eBook as well as conducting Facebook contests among some other ideas. You'll have to follow my school on social media to see what we have planned.'
Brendan's passion for inbound marketing in schools has driven him to his latest venture - the SchneiderB University - online courses in social media and inbound marketing. You can find out more about this here or of course by following him on social media - take your pick from Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
Brendan Schneider has been Director of Admission & Financial Aid at Sewickley Academy in Pittsburgh since 2008. He also sits on the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent School Admission Professionals and runs the school marketing advice website www.schneiderb.com.
Bablake School was the top school in this year's Interactive Schools 'UK Independent Schools Social Media Influence' league table.
Marketing Advice for Schools caught up with Mark Woodward, Webmaster (and Head of Careers) at Bablake to find out how the school had embraced social media and the impact it has had on the school.
Mark has had an interesting career path. He started off as a Classics teacher, then took over responsibility for careers education. In 2006 he stopped teaching and as well as careers education took over responsibility for the school website and publications. Mark had been using the Internet for careers research for a while and had set up his own careers website to help students access careers information (www.woodyswebwatch.com - worth a visit in itself!). He was aware that students were going online for careers information and started to educate them in safe use of the Internet.
His work led in a logical progression to setting up social media. The first step was to work with his Headmaster and Director of Studies on a general policy. They didn't find any obvious problems with setting up a Twitter account but were much more tentative about Facebook given the less open nature of the platform. However, the students and parents were keen and so Mark worked with two of the school's senior prefects to draw up a proposal for moderating the school Facebook page. All posts are moderated, but there has been little problem in reality, Mark commenting 'people know you can't be anonymous'. Having said that, he would also be able to identify issues affecting the school and pass them on to senior management to address quickly if something critical happened.
The school now has a flexible approach to social media - they know that different groups will use different media. Facebook is used mainly by 25-35 year old former pupils, but they are seen as very important as they have their own families and become parents of the next generation of potential students. Students at the school favour newer social media - Instagram and Snapchatare popular. The school tries new platforms and moves on if they're not seen to have a significant take-up - 'we've tried Tumblr and Google+ but they weren't popular - we're now looking at Vine', adds Mark.
What links the different social media is a central approach to content development. Mark gets content from across the school - from staff, the school diary, the other publications he edits, and has started using WhatsApp to get content from teachers leading school trips. He produces one key story per day during term time as well as 60 stories to use across the holidays, but will also focus more time on the biggest stories - for example the school recently worked with a school in South Africa to offer a range of practical help, including creating the school's website. He is keen to post the stories in real time wherever possible in order to be able to reply to the wider community, although he does admit to occasionally scheduling website posts in the long holidays if likely to be away from a WiFi connection.
Mark believes that the school's success comes from having an insider working on communications - ''I'm part of a group of local private schools and some have outsourced social media - that means that content is regularly posted but there's no interaction. My goal is to 'make it real' and show that we are the best school in the Midlands.' Mark is also able to approach staff as a peer and for example offer advice on the best photographs to take.
What is the impact? In numerical terms there are a lot of people engaging with the school - the school has almost 2,000 Twitter followers and over 1,000 followers on the school's main Facebook page and over 700 on the Alumni page. They are also active - with typically 500 Facebook visitors per day and a highly active Twitter community that includes celebrities and many former students. The school has managed to weather the economic downturn well, but Mark says that the biggest impact has been in relationship development - 'for example we've had former students come back to careers events to give advice to current students'.
Bablake School's Social Media Numbers
1974: Twitter Followers
1087: Facebook Followers
790: Alumni Facebook Followers (private site)
55: Klout score
Schools Marketing expert Tim Latham commented 'This is an excellent video. Only a really confident school would likely be able to put out a video like this.'
St Bede's College, Manchester, has created distinctive Faculty Newsletters to engage staff and students in the information-gathering process. The stories focus on the key values of the NW's leading independent Catholic school
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