Two years ago I had a great end-of-summer-term experience – the opportunity to train around 25 schools in a series of courses for Osiris Educational. Having done the same again in the last couple of weeks, I thought I should look over my reflections from then (you can find them here) and see what has – and hasn’t changed! Here are 7 key learnings...
- Marketing has become more mainstream. Two years ago, the schools I talked to knew that marketing was important for them, but that they weren’t necessarily representative of all schools. This year one participant asked why their course wasn’t totally full as ‘all schools are talking about marketing now!’
- Knowledge of marketing is increasing. Two years ago, when I asked delegates what they thought marketing was they invariably talked about ‘promotion’ or ‘advertising’. This time there was much more awareness of the need for ‘engagement’ and ‘stakeholders’, alongside ‘promotion’. Schools were aware of opportunities in moving marketing spend from advertising, if a bit wary.
- Marketing challenges are growing and changing. Every school I talked to was facing issues recruiting students and balancing budgets, the majority were worried about recruiting teachers and some were working through the process of academy conversion. The good news is that they all left with a strong conviction that a marketing approach would help them (and a plan to make it happen).
- Social media still worries schools. Schools have accepted the need for social media, and indeed some of the delegates came on the course to learn about using it for marketing, but they worry about negative comments. The best argument I found was that if your school doesn’t manage its own social media presence, someone else will!
- Schools need more time to do marketing, not more money. It’s amazing what schools expect their support staff or full-time teachers to do. The secondary schools in particular that I trained were spending a tiny proportion of their available human resources on marketing – something that is shocking for under-subscribed schools (10 more students would pay for a full time marketing manager!), and a worry even for those who are full. As many of the schools found, money isn't really the issue, it's having the time to use the contacts and resources schools already have.
- There are some great schools out there! As always, it’s a privilege to meet great heads, teachers and support staff who are working in difficult situations, with old buildings or massive fixed costs and making a huge difference to their communities.
- Creating a content calendar is important. The biggest improvement in this series of courses was the introduction of the content plan. Rather than leaving the process of planning and communicating stories to each school, this helped them focus what to write, record and when to do it.
If you’d like school marketing training, let Osiris know – or check out our own training workshops here.