School Marketing

What is School Marketing?

Marketing will seem to some like a corporate term that doesn’t apply to a school. Whilst we can all recognise how a school is very different from a large consumer brand, most of the principles of marketing can be and have been successfully applied to schools. We’ve attempted in as few a words as possible to explain what marketing is to schools and how they should go about tackling it.

Every school provides a service (education), has customers (students and their parents), has competitors (similar schools) and operates within a market (educating).

Although it may seem a bit crude to view education as a product and the pupil as a client, marketing would likely help most schools better understand the environment they operate in and more clearly define their identity (or ‘brand’). The benefit of marketing for schools, as it is for all companies, is to recognise the factors that influence them, understand those factors and use this information to make plans for future success. School Marketing Plan A marketing plan is typically created in three stages: objectives, strategies and tactics. Objectives have the longest time-frame (typically 1-5 years) and are the key market ambitions of the company. Strategies have a medium time-frame and contribute towards achieving a particular objective while tactics have the shortest time-frame, are the most adaptable and facilitate strategy. Marketing objectives should be agreed in line with the plans of admissions, fundraising and development.

Who in the School Undertakes Marketing?

We find that the job roles of the people within schools varies, much depends upon the size of the school, whether it is state or privately funded and also the need for expansion or prevention of falling numbers. Marketing is most commonly performed as you would expect by the Head of Marketing, but also falls under the remit of Head Teachers, Deputy Heads, Administrators and Class Teachers; roughly in that order.

Levels of School Marketing

We propose that there are three different levels:

1. Research level marketing: environment analysis, competitor research, customer research

2. Brand level marketing: vision, mission statement, brand identity, elements of the logo

3. Communication level marketing: logo design, uniform style/colours, school website, school prospectus, signage, livery (such as vehicles), stationery etc.

One element that is not included is the school name, as this is normally not decided in the same way as other school identity/marketing decisions. Those responsible for creating a new school or rebranding/marketing an existing school will need to come to decisions regarding all the separate elements listed above and it’s likely that they will work chronologically through categories one, two then three (as bullet pointed).

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