Like most industries, education has been struggling to adapt to the strange times we currently find ourselves in. Schools and education centres have the pressing issue of how best to keep their students safe and deliver a curriculum remotely if social distancing become mandatory once again. Then there’s the added challenges for universities and colleges of the lack of international students at this time. It seems that the education sector has a lot to contend to! Building and maintaining current connections and relationships with community and students in a time where social distancing means events need to be cancelled, open days suspended, and industry events put on pause has resulted in confusion. What marketing projects are to be committed to when things are in such a state of flux? Like all industries this is not the time to freeze marketing efforts and stay silent. It’s an opportunity to reach out to the community, have a voice, inform and support, and position yourself as a leader in the education field. Below are some tips on how you can keep your marketing momentum going in such uncertainty.
1. Step up your social media presence
Social media is one of the most cost effective means of reaching out to and building an online community. By staying active and consistent and offering content with value, you will be raising your profile in the community and if you ensure genuine engagement with your audience is maintained SM is a sure fire means of strengthening your relationship for many years to come.
2. Time for a brand analysis
This pause in “business as usual” means now is a great time to review your brand assets and look for the opportunities to expand your digital reach. Now is the perfect time to perform a brand and competitive analysis. What are some of the best Sydney schools doing? Would any of these initiatives benefit your school or organisation? How is your current messaging? Is it consistent, informative and supportive? Could you position yourself more effectively?
3. Utilise the online realm for virtual tours and open days
Many schools are now having to adapt to a much more digital and interactive means of advertising. Interactive Online Map as well as Video Tours for parents that struggle to find the time to attend Open Days or book a tour around the College (or unable to due to social distancing restrictions) are an excellent ad safe means of reallocating efforts for onsite tours. Initiatives like this, allow you to reach many parents and students and clearly communicates your school’s unique benefits. This is an initiative that has longevity and value beyond COVID, something to invest in now that will benefit the college/organisation for many years to come.
4. Is your Website up to scratch?
Regarding your website, it is important to review the photography and overall structure of the website, so it is more engaging and modern. Looking at the structure and how one navigates around the site so it is easier for the user to find information is vital. Regarding look and feel adding a ‘hero’ photo and videos using authentic images of happy students enjoying their life at the college creates a good first impression for the college and connects clients to the brand. Another simple initiative to include on websites, is to have testimonials from both parents and students at the bottom of the homepage. Sharing reviews on a home page is a great way to build that initial trust between your brand and the community
5. Covid Page
Schools that have a dedicated page on their website that concentrates on information related to the changes in the school and offer material that supports parents and students that are trying to adapt with the COVID-19 scenario are positioning themselves as a trusted authority during this period. A “Student and Parent Hub” to assist the community during the pandemic and sharing news from the school as well as material that might benefit both parents and students during the transition will help build trust. If budget doesn’t allow for a new page on the website, then a weekly EDM to ensure that the college is connecting with the community is a cost effective means of achieving a similar result.
The key with all of the above initiatives is to keep a strong and steady profile in times that are anything but. Provide real value and support to your community and you will be able to create long lasting opportunity to build your reputation as a trusted leader in the education field. You may need to pivot and re asses your marketing plan but by no means should you freeze all your efforts. Keep the momentum going now and reaps the rewards when we return to more steady times.