Marketing your school was once relatively simple; a well produced brochure and the recommendations of parents were just about all that was needed. However, not only has the world changed but many schools face a tightening of their budgets and numerous urgent demands on what funds are available. This means that for school administrators finding inexpensive ways in which to promote a school can be an essential part of their marketing strategy. Here’s a few old, and some new, marketing techniques. The principles can also be applied to a range of other bodies, including sports teams (school or otherwise), charities and community groups.
Free Professional Advocacy Services
Create a group of parents willing to advocate for your school. Given that your pupils’ families will come from a range of different backgrounds and careers, you may find that you have a whole pool of professional resources readily to hand. Parents willing to join in with presentations about your school, or host gatherings to provide information about the school are an incredible asset. On some projects they can work together to generate interest and provide information about the school. Traditionally, parents have probably been the best word-of-mouth tool available for schools to generate ‘free’ advertising, creating a more formal setting for this can help to identify individuals with professionals skills that can be of most use and create a strong team that is willing to promote your school.
Get to Grips with Technology
New media tools include having an effective website, a Twitter presence and a Facebook presence. If this makes you shiver with terror, then sadly it’s time to join the twenty first century. The internet has prompted a revolution in the way communicate, do business and live our lives. It’s had a huge influence on marketing and it should be used in any promotional efforts, whether that is for a school, sports team or charity. Anybody under the age of twenty has grown up in a world dominated by the internet and computers and this means that all of your future pupils fall under the category of ‘the internet generation’. Joining them online is, however unfortunate, the only way forward. Twitter and Facebook have both been hailed as the future of marketing but they have yet to prove themselves for the retail world. Given that they are largely an extension of the older ‘word of mouth’ model of advertising they do, however, work well for voluntary groups and schools. Create a (professional) website, Twitter feed and Facebook profile; the first graduates of the internet generation will soon be parents themselves and they’ll expect it!
Back to Less Virtual Techniques
Despite the internet revolution more traditional methods of shameless self-promotion still work for schools! Sporting events and fundraising events should all be regular features of your schools programme. If well-advertised (using the methods and resources mentioned above) they’ll create a favourable impression of your school’s activities and charity events can help to demonstrate your community involvement, something that many parents are keen to see from their local school. Traditional methods of advertising these events – and your school in general – should include posters, fliers and promotion on local TV and radio stations. Car magnets with your school logo, or sports team emblem, are a simple, affordable way to maintain a constant (and high) profile in your local community and surrounding area. These promotional materials should be included in school information packs for prospective students and parents, which are another marketing tool that you should consider using. Key elements in this kind of promotional material should contain information about your school, a mission statement, key successes and achievements. These techniques and types of events have long proved successful in terms of generating interest and are certainly worth using alongside your (newly acquired) technical skills!
Joining Forces for Impact
For many schools, with marketing budgets tight and the need to find funds for projects that may be considered more of a priority, one option is to join forces with other schools in your area. This can work if you work with schools with pupils from different age groups to your own. It can help you to access reduced prices for some materials and can enable you to hold larger fundraisers, or joint showcasing days, with wider attendance than you may be able to achieve on your own. A little creative thinking should be applied to all of your marketing efforts and this in itself will make your school stand out from others, making it the preferred option for many parents and pupils alike.
About the Author
Alan Rosinski is a keen supporter of his local charities, groups and schools. Here he looks at how to make the most of low cost advertising opportunities to aid your school marketing efforts.