When was the last time your organisation did a Marketing stocktake?
Managing Covid-19 and the move to online learning occupied a lot of time, energy and resources for schools during Term 2 of 2020 and for many, marketing took a back seat.
As schools come out of semi-hibernation and understand that lockdowns are still a real possibility, it can be difficult to know where to focus energies – or what marketing you can do when the “market” is quiet.
Many private or independent schools we work with have suffered very few cancellations due to economic factors, however there are quite a few that are helping families maintain their enrolment. Across Australia a number of families have done a stocktake of their lifestyle and finances – and likely will again at some point.
From a marketing perspective it’s a good idea for schools to also do a stocktake to ensure their marketing dollars are being well spent, your messaging is on point and your competitive advantage is clear.
Now is a good time to do this. Four areas to start with are as follows:
1. MARKETING AUDIT
How do you know that you are spending enough or too much on marketing and if you are spending your marketing budget in the right area? How does your branding foundations and marketing plans stack up against industry best practices? How do you justify your marketing allocation to your Board/School Council?
As experienced marketing managers working with many schools, Look Education can provide an independent audit of your school’s branding, digital assets, marketing budget, marketing function and enrolment process. We can also provide recommendations for budget allocations and develop realistic marketing plans.
2. MARKET RESEARCH
When we first start working with schools, many of them are not at capacity or have some retention issues. So, a key starting point is to understand what are the factors contributing to the school not being at capacity. Research uncovers your blind spots and confirms your hunches so you can make informed, objective decisions. Otherwise you can do a lot of marketing but not address the real issues – or the perceived issues that exist in your customers’ minds. If you are not at capacity, make sure you know all the reasons why – so you can work on addressing these.
Research can also provide valuable insights into perceptions of your brand, word of mouth, key influencers and issues that may be impacting your brand in the market. It can also highlight your strengths or uniqueness – from an outsider’s point of view. They are often in a position to know and can provide interesting perspectives.
The other element to research is it can uncover great brand stories and ambassadors to champion your school. And, by virtue of doing the research, it sends a message that you are listening and care.
Many schools do annual online benchmark surveys with parents to gauge customer satisfaction with their school. That’s an important step but it won’t necessarily give you all the answers you need to understand your brand, why your school is chosen and what you can truly call your differentiation points.
Talk to us about your challenges and we can advise if and what we would recommend from a research perspective.
3. BRAND STRATEGY
Irrespective of the size of an organisation or school, each needs to know its brand position and why parents should send their children to your school or, if an organisation, buy what you offer. Each school is unique and needs to find that compelling angle.
Many schools and their marketing teams need help with this. The reason being is that very few are experienced in brand strategy and development – they don’t have the depth of working in brand management for Brand/Ad/PR agencies and understanding all the elements that build strong brands and loyalty. In fact, there are very few marketing and digital agencies working in the education sector that have our degree of brand experience and stewardship, and understanding of brand essence and promise.
See some examples of our branding work here:
SEO continues to be an area that schools need to work on – and some of this work schools can do themselves. For any organisation and their website it is not a case of build it and they will come – you have to be found.
What you are aiming for is to be on page 1 of Google for the key search terms that people are using in their searches. For that, you might need specialist software or the help of a digital agency. Ranking high for SEO is a reflection of your website or domain having a High Domain Authority (a score out of 100). There are numerous factors that contribute to this including:
- SEO Keywords and HTML on key pages of your site including images
- Ensuring your website is submitted to Google for Indexing (and updates too)
- A website that has regular updates (blog) so it’s not seen as a static site
- Google My Business Listing and Google Reviews (high rating, regular new reviews, acknowledging reviews)
- Facebook Recommendations
- Other reputable sites linking to your site and vice versa. One external site for example you can set up is a Wikipedia listing of your school and link it back to your school.
- Have other higher ranking sites link to your site, e.g. Brisbane Kids.
Look Education offers free SEO audits and recommendations and works with schools to improve their SEO. We’ve taken many schools to Page 1 for their keyword searches. Talk to us today
How often should you do a Marketing Stocktake?
For the best results with marketing it’s important to do ongoing monitoring and review against SMART Goals that you have set. SMART being Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Targetted, and then comparing findings against earlier periods.
With the four areas we have noted above it’s a good idea to do a formal review at least every three years. While the education sector does not necessarily change as quickly as other industries, like technology for example, a three year period is a suitable time to measure the long-term impact of brand strategy recommendations and implementations.