Every school wants to be seen and known as a unique school. Identifying what makes you unique, communicating that and making it believable is the challenge.
As a Principal, Business Manager or school Marketing Manager, does this next sentence sound familiar to you. “We have excellence in education, a broad range of curriculum on offer, exceptional facilities, experienced caring teachers, great opportunities for our students…” and the list goes on.
This is what we hear (and read) a lot when meeting new school clients about their offering. It’s what we see on their websites, in their prospectuses and in their ads.
Futhermore, as an example, here’s a statement from a Principal on a website home page:
Our core business is helping each child to be the best learner they can be. At XX, we want each student to flourish and achieve their best, to enjoy school and learning, and to make a difference in the world.
There is nothing in this statement that says this is a different, special or unique school.
However true any of these statements might be they’re not going to individually attract attention to prospective parents nor get them over the line.
So what will?
It takes a broad range of things. Yes, parents want all the boxes ticked but to pique their interest and their child’s, there needs to be some aspects of what you offer that is much talked about.
Our advice to schools is to know what is unique about your school, know your key messages and hit them home. Try not to worry about what the GPS school up the road is doing, nor worry about what is happening with the state high schools making rapid ground. Worry about your OWN school and what you can do to make it a better offering – to both a) market it easily and b) ensure retention.
How is yours a unique school?
- Single sex – this is a differentiator and you need to say you are a specialist in girls/boys education (and what you do etc).
- Co-ed – is an opportunity to focus on real life (co-ed is real life and what this means for students)
- What about a unique feature/story/facility – this needs to be singled out e.g. Waterpolo depth pool, Dance Studio, Hospitality Precinct/Kitchen gardens, Running track, Outdoor education camp, Equestrian facility, giant mango tree where the kids gather.
- Size – small can be a positive – talk about how small equals secure/safe, personalised, individual and caring.
- If your school is faith based – focus on how the faith-led values are integrated into the school (what they are and how they have made a difference to relationships/academic results).
- Specialist facilities, specialist staff then you really have a great story to tell.
- Do you have a bus/transport offering – call it out!
- Are there history, traditions to celebrate – then explain what this is and why this is so important to your story.
- Do all of your students have a healthy lunch provided and eat together every day as part of your school fees, then that is noteworthy!
- In terms of buildings do you have STEM or technology, or state-of-the art facilities explain this and showcase it.
How do you find out what is unique about your school – ASK! Your staff, your parents and your students will tell you.
If you don’t feel you have a lot of unique things, maybe it is time you focus on creating some – it’s not that hard. They can be part of a strategic plan, a curriculum initiative or even something that the P&F can be part of.
Here’s some ideas to get you started that we’ve had for some of our clients:
- A nature-play style playground for Prep-2
- Commission a statue in your school that is significant to the area
- Create an outdoor camp for students that focuses specifically on developing resilience, leadership and
- Parent engagement talks/programs/courses
- Build a Kindergarten
- An end of year trip for Year 12’s (to help them stay)
- A fair (to get the community on campus)
And when you have those unique things clearly articulated, don’t bury them in your marketing! Bring them to the fore. They need to be on your home page, spelled out and heroes across your ad campaigns and more. You need clever copy to do this – both in headlines and supporting copy.
Ideally your tagline can also spell out your differentiation, but we’ll leave that to another article.
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