Who doesn’t love a motivational quote – and moreover a sports motivational quote, in fact a ‘Yogism’ from Yogi Berra, an American professional baseball catcher of the 1940s-60s. This quote is particularly relevant to the autumn term and the strategic marketing of secondary schools.
The pressure is mounting in terms of the closing date for applications (countdown to 31 October) and the recruitment of pupils for next year. Coupled with the fact that open event season has changed for all schools, and is beyond recognition, “Houston, we have a problem”…. and this long list is ever evolving and growing!
For those of you that are getting through the autumn term with pupil recruitment strategies that include virtual tours, school videos via your Youtube channel, pupils sharing their experiences across the key stages and relevant imagery, your film showing in primary schools (with branded popcorn), Saturday drive-bys (pre-booked of course), direct mailshots (rule of three counts), social media strategies (remember these channels are all free), online engagement and communication campaigns – WELL DONE! Some of you may still be in planning mode or knee-deep in implementing some of your campaigns so, with our compliments, take and run with some or all of these suggestions. Click here for our blog on ‘School choice decision-making in a virtual world’.
In the meantime here’s something else for you all to think about! From talking to our national client base and prospective families there is still much uncertainty and heaps of changes happening at the eleventh hour. Schools are cancelling virtual tours at the last minute, parents are expressing frustration at the lack of information and interaction with secondary schools, and prospective pupils are relying on playground chit-chat. A school’s reputation has never mattered more and as we know perceptions lag years behind reality and ‘gossip and hearsay’ can impact (more negatively) on parental decision-making.
Words of comfort – IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Here’s our advice for this term:
- Pupil recruitment: keep going, you have until the end of this half term to keep communicating and promoting your school in any way you can – in addition, prospective parents may still be making their minds up until national offer day in March 2021. What’s in your plan for the next 6 months and how can you simultaneously commence 2022 pupil recruitment strategies?
- School website: the world has gone online and your website has never been more important – it is your shop window and the most direct and interactive connection with your stakeholders. The content needs to bring your school to life - sharing information in the most dynamic way. Invest time and energy now into the best public display of your school.
- Signposting: social media channels are free and must be used to drive traffic (prospective families, community, primary schools) to your website. How are you using your YouTube channel with pupil and staff vox-pops? Do tweets celebrate the successes and activities at your school? Are you publishing blogs via LinkedIn – this channel can also support with staff recruitment? Is your Facebook page pumping out up-to-date info? Are you trying additional channels like Instagram and Snapchat?
For longer term planning and securing the future of your school, it starts with research (blog coming soon). From there a 3-year marketing strategy linked to the school development plan and then complementary annual campaigns, themes and plans. Good luck!