“Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes” – these are the words of Thomas W Higginson, a 19th century theologian, and we believe they resonate strongly in terms of marketing your sixth form.
It is easy for any organisation to become too inward-looking. Additionally so, in the education world where year in year out, at the same time of year, schools and colleges communicate the same marketing messages through the same marketing channels.
As part of your organisation’s ongoing process of renewal, change and innovation is it time to get a fresh perspective? Have you selected the right messages to convey your offer? Do they communicate and give an insight into your successes, values and beliefs? Are these messages reaching the right audience in the right way using tone, content and messaging appropriate to the target? Are you attracting the right balance of quality and quantity of students? Is your marketing strategy focused on being delivered, throughout the academic year, using your budget in the most efficient and effective way?
From our experience, your work starts with a solid marketing proposal to ensure that prospective students choose your sixth form. You will of course have covered the traditional forms of marketing like advertising, Pay-Per-Click campaigns, social media posts, search engine optimisation and email marketing. You will have considered a student’s approach to decision-making and the stages they go through including:
- Awareness: the basics of marketing campaigns, surveys, events, direct mailshots, media mentions and more.
- Interest: you’ve got their attention and created a database so how do you nurture these leads?
- Consideration: as your proposition is considered by students what information do you communicate and how do you get onto their short list?
- Evaluation: students are ready to make their final decision so how do you metaphorically ‘hold their hand’ and ensure you’re their first choice?
- Securing: this is the last stage and you need to make this a positive experience to ensure you achieve individual ‘sign up’ and word-of-mouth amongst peers, which is more powerful than any marketing or advertising, for future student recruitment purposes.
We believe that all of these considerations should be included in your strategic marketing plans and associated campaigns. Think about how to build loyalty with prospective students and their families. Ensure students get to experience the life of a sixth former, in whatever guise appropriate to their age, and as often as possible. This will ensure that you achieve engagement whilst connecting with other students, and families, in their networks. Your organisation will then naturally have advocates for your brand that will support the ongoing promotion and development of your sixth form. Ideally, this will secure retention within your sixth form, content generation for case studies and a loyal alumni in the longer term.
To find out more about our approach to sixth form marketing, sign up to our free online workshop. And, in the meantime, here’s some questions for you to think about:
- What’s your offer and proposition?
- What are your competitors doing and what’s your point of difference?
- How do you bring your offer to life?
- Where is the power? Who are the influencers and decision-makers?
- What’s your student experience beyond the curriculum offer and how does it link to your vision?