One model that helps school leaders approach this in a structured way is the 7P marketing model, introduced by Booms & Bitner (1981)*.This model considers a range of 'service elements' that can be changed in any service. Let's see how they fit a school!
- Product - this covers the operational aspects of a school. Changes in this area would include improving teaching and learning, offering new courses, academic support or extra-curricular activities - ideally directly in response to research or feedback. You could also increase your out-of hours offerings - from renting out facilities to offering adult learning classes.
- Price - for a private school increasing or lowering fees is a major issue every year. For state schools there are many costs involved in going to school from uniform to transport to after-school care. Changing these will affect who can attend your school and their opinion of you!
- Place - this may seem odd for a school, but it covers when and how your service is offered as well as where. Do parents need help looking after children after school? Could you extend hours? Could you use technology to enable learning to take place at any time?
- Promotion - Do you know who is important in your local community? Are you communicating your great news stories to them? Do you use social media effectively? You will be doing amazing things (all schools do) but if you don't tell people you can't change their views.
- Physical evidence - this is not just limited to your buildings and your grounds! Do you showcase the success of current and recent students?
- People - who do parents, prospective parents and others in the community meet with when they visit your school? Are they friendly and helpful?
- Processes - is it easy for those in the community to get information from you? Is your admissions process clear and easy? Can existing parents find out key information about their children and meet teachers quickly when they need to?
Being aware of the needs of your local community and considering all these changes will definitely help you stand out!
* Booms, B.H., Bitner, M.J. (1981 ), “Marketing strategies and organization structures for service firms”, in Donnelly, J.H., George, W.R. (Eds), Marketing of Services, Conference Proceedings: American Marketing Association, Chicago, IL, pp.47-51 .