Here are some ideas to help you encourage a primary school to embrace the need for marketing:
1. Don't call it marketing
Although marketing is becoming more accepted, many Head Teachers remain uneasy about it because they believe it is something used by profit making companies. As a result, they are resistant to people offering marketing services. So, consider presenting your proposals as promotional activities or ideas for raising the school's profile.
2. It's about the parents
In most cases Heads will take up your offer of marketing support because they need to improve communications with parents, both current and future. Considering the regularity of contact between parents and school, far higher than in most businesses, schools often know little about their parent "customers". Help them to see that good communication with parents needs to be relevant, regular and reciprocal.
3. Start with practical ideas
Because marketing will be perceived as a fringe activity, there will be little opportunity to explain complex marketing ideas. I recommend that you should focus on initially on straightforward ways to improve schools communication. Typical areas will be:
- revamping the school prospectus or other recruitment literature.
- improving the school's web presence. Most schools have a web site but they are often poorly constructed and maintained.
- offering a more effective delivery of existing communications, such as email newsletters. Schools are looking for ways to communicate more better and cheaper.
- managing recruitment events such as Open Days.
4. Remember every school is different
This may see an obvious point, but schools have a very strong image of themselves and see themselves as totally unique. Therefore in order to be taken seriously by school heads, the ability to present the "unique ethos" of the school will be an essential, yet unspoken aim.
5. Make sure you link different marketing activities
Schools often don't have the resources to manage several organisations to provide parts of their communications needs. For many schools each individual element is often not a significant project. Schools often find it difficult to present materials consistently.
6. Be bright, be brief, be gone
Inevitably, you will be completing with the Head teacher's day to day concerns. Therefore, everything you say or write needs to very concise and focused on clear benefits. Don't forget the Head may have to explain what you have told them to Governors, so it is important that the benefits are easily and immediately grasped.
If you catch the marketing bug and want to take on more challenges, remember that schools don’t like collaborating on marketing! Your best prospects will be schools in adjacent learning communities, who will be familiar with your school but are not in active competition.
Nic Eversett is a Marketing Communications specialist and primary school teacher. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
©Nic Eversett, 2013