I have been working with schools and the education sector for well over 16 years, assisting them in putting their marketing plan into action to get great results for their school. I have seen a huge shift in the level of sophistication within school’s marketing team. Gone are the days where the school’s librarian is also responsible for putting together the school’s year book , prospectus or advertising schedule. It has taken some time but most schools now have a very clear awareness that to effectively market themselves and their achievements they must go way beyond traditional approaches. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learnt when it comes to marketing school’s.

My role has been to assist schools in creating a well implemented brand identity that is cohesively transferred across all marketing channels, the main goals to either increase enrolments and/ or raise the profile of the school within the community. This often involves working across all platforms from print material through to digital as well as having a well considered and strategic media buying plan.

I’ve found that the needs of every school are often very diverse. Some schools have a very well considered brand identity and a fantastic, consistent set of printed marketing pieces however their website is outdated with limited functionality, especially with mobile and tablet responsiveness. This inability to keep at the knife edge of technology weakens the school’s image and perceptions will be that the school does not have the resources that parents want for their children’s education.

In other instances I have found that some schools lack a comprehensive style guide to ensure all of their marketing material be it print or digital is implemented in a cohesive and consistent manner, resulting in a weakening of their brand image. The biggest issue however has been with how best to advertise, without an experienced media buying team and a solid planning media schedule, schools often don’t understand which publications will give them the best cut through or how best to plan out the timing of their Ads.

An agency who has experience in designing for the education sector can offer a wealth of information and advice that in the long run not only offers results but saves money in effective marketing. I believe there is great value in schools outsourcing their design needs to creative agencies who can offer a diverse range of skill sets, from branding through to digital and media buying. There is a current trend with schools employing an in house designer to work in conjunction with the marketing manager on all their design work, however the resulting output can’t match the resources of a design team pooling their skills and creative ideas. Often the reason for doing this is because it is perceived that this will save costs, however in the long run this is often not the case as the marketing manager spends much of their time account managing and creatively directing when they could be working on their marketing plans and strategies. Not to mention the lack of available resources when multiple design channels need to be used to support a marketing plan and strategy.

Whatever a schools challenge, be it in advertising or branding, I would always recommend a creative agency who has the team resources and experience to help marketing plans succeed.

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