Let's start with the big win of remote working - better focus groups! Its been amazing how much easier it has been to set up effective focus groups - of students, parents and teachers - via Teams or Zoom. It's hardly a surprise that Microsoft is now using this in television adverts for Teams itself (see here). It's easier to get people together, easier to manage and ensure that everyone contributes, and easier to record the sessions for future use. And it's a lot cheaper as a result. I'll definitely be sticking with remote focus groups.
The next surprise was effective development of content. Rather than face-to-face meetings to discuss reports or e-books, I've done a lot more online editing, taking the time to explain why changes are made. The result has been shorter meetings (I often just assign 30 minutes now rather than full hours) and faster approval. For example the top two of these reports took far less time to write in lockdown than the others!
I've also enjoyed the opportunity for short and focused coaching. Again, rather than have to arrange visits to schools for face-to-face meetings, 30- to 60-minute discussions can make a real impact at a low cost.
However, there are some things that are much harder to do remotely, that I'm looking forward to doing in person. The first is to get a real sense of what a school looks like to a visitor. There's so much you can pick up from a visit - from the first look of the school to the way you are greeted to how children respond to your presence - that makes a real difference to a marketing strategy. On previous projects I've recommended working with architects to remove walls and re-routed tours - I'm sure I've missed similar opportunities remotely.
And the second is meeting teachers and other staff. Teachers know how much harder it has been to develop relationships with children remotely and this is so true of school marketing - I've missed seeing and hearing the impact staff make on children every day. Hoping to see more of you soon!