Back to school: Do you need a marketing manager?

Debbie Lawrenson
  • Debbie Lawrenson
  • Head of Digital

A new academic year has started. We’ve arrived back at school full of optimism and good intentions for the year to come. Remember those new exercise books you were given every September? And the new pens and sharp pencils that you used to write in them? And do you remember how very neatly you wrote on that first, smooth and pristine page, all the time thinking: ‘This time, this time – I’m going to keep this up. My workbooks will always be neat and clear and full of top marks.’

And did you keep it up?

Probably not.

It’s the same when it comes to marketing for schools. Let’s face it, there are so many components to education marketing that while most schools start out with a clear and accountable marketing plan, the various tasks on the list get passed around numerous people until they disappear.

Could do better: where schools get it wrong

There was a time when school marketing began and ended with a nicely produced prospectus, but those days are long gone. Education is a highly competitive market and private schools are learning to compete in the same way as businesses like retail or tech innovation.

Many schools are extremely good at it and are seeing clear and measurable results in terms of increased parent choice and applications. For others, there’s still a degree of climbing up the learning curve.

Most education professionals now appreciate the importance of their website and social media presence for building school reputation and encouraging applicants. They will have made a substantial investment in their school website and worked with an experienced school marketing team to create the kind of marketing plan that sends out all the right kinds of messages, growing school reputation and prompting enquiries from parents.

What happens next? There’s a flurry of positive results.





flat lines…

Why? Because there’s no one person responsible for fulfilling all those tasks in the marketing plan, ensuring that momentum is maintained and success is built on. And that’s a shocking waste of a major investment for your school.

Unfortunately, it’s something that happens all too often. The various jobs involved in keeping a school’s marketing activity fresh and effective get passed around to already frantically busy teachers, and they start to get rushed, delayed or missed out on altogether. We’re talking about jobs like:

  • Blog writing.
  • Creating and adding news stories.
  • Adding photos and images.
  • Regular social media postings on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on.

Consider the cost

When it comes to investing in school websites, school social media strategies and so on, the follow-through is essential to seeing a positive return on investment. Digital marketing doesn’t stand still, and it’s essential that postings and updates are regular in order for your school social media strategy and website to work to full potential.

That’s where a school marketing manager comes in. Having a designated member of staff who takes care of all your updates regularly can more than pay for itself. A good marketing manager will substantially increase the return on investment from your website and social media through a regular, professional and creative approach.

What’s more, their expertise will help you to build on your current strategy as they will bring marketing experience, ideas and know-how to develop and improve your overall market presence. This is the kind of best school marketing practice that keeps you ahead of the competition. Hiring a marketing manager doesn’t have to be a major expense. Consider:

  • A junior marketing manager who’s full of ideas and loves keeping up to date with media trends.
  • A part-time marketing manager – you may only need someone for a couple of days a week, mostly during term time. (If you’re lucky you might find a very experienced marketer who’s the parent of school age children for whom it’s the perfect job.)
  • A freelancer who will work with you one or two days a week. Freelancers are great for fresh ideas as they work with multiple clients and learn from all of them.

Marketing requirements vary from school to school but common to all schools is the requirement for marketing to be ongoing. Stop-start marketing usually ends in a full stop, so don’t make one big payment to a marketing and design agency and think the job’s done. The job may have got off to a super-start, but it is a start and not the whole process. So now’s the time to make your new-academic-year resolutions stick.

Get your school a marketing manager and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!