Getting your International School’s Marketing Strategy correct is vitally important whether you are a new school or an existing school. In this blog we identify what you need to get right in order to be successful and rise above the competition.
State The Purpose of Your Marketing Strategy
This may seem like an obvious point however it can be reduce to the following 3 goals, all of which require marketing in their own way.
- Can your school become a magnet to to those families the school is best suited to serve?
- How can the school become recognised as the best school in the city?
- Is it possible to attract the best staff and faculty?
All of these ‘goals’ are relevant to all schools in one way or another, however make sure you are clear on which goals you are focussing on in order to tailor your marketing strategy in such a way.
Describe Your Target Market
Describe your typical parent and child who is going to attend your school.
What does this family look like? Where do they live? What car do they drive? What jobs do they have?
The more detail you can put into the description of your target audience, the better. List demographics, habits, desires, activities, and locations of your target market.
Describe The Niche You Serve
Once the above is done, you can describe your niche market. In defining your niche, think hard about what your school offers and what you do more proficiently than that of your competitors. Is there a gap in the market? What type of people will benefit from these specific things? They will be part of your niche market.
List The Benefits of Your School & Competitive Advantage Over Others
What is the difference between features and benefits? It can be confusing to see the difference. Features are factual statements about your school, however it is the benefits that interests the family and ultimately enforce the decision to enrol or not. For example: Low student:teacher ratios is a feature, the benefit is that the child will get more individualised learning compared to a classroom with a high student:teacher ratio. The benefit shows why the child and family will benefit in your school vs others.
A school should obviously have more than one benefit, and in fact they should have several that are actually difficult for other schools to duplicate. Consult the target market you described previously, do they actually want the benefit you described. Remember to poll your current parents. Why did they join? What benefits were important to them? If it was important to them it will be important to others and worth focussing on.
Clearly State Your School’s Identity
When alumni return to the school one day, what do you want them to say and remember about the school? The identity of the school should be based on truth and honesty and an aspect that all families, staff and local community can understand and get behind.
List The Marketing Tactics You Will Employ & Detail a Budget
Use the data! What worked before? Why didn’t it? How can it be improved?
There will often be a mix of offline and online marketing within your marketing strategy, with a heavier lean towards towards ‘word of mouth’ which in todays world is social media and online adverts. Facebook and Good Ads lead the way, however it is vitally important that your content creation is of a high quality and original in nature. Create a weekly or bi-weekly plan so that you can prepare your content with time to spare. However leave space for ‘spur of the moment’ posts. Online marketing allows for easy data collection and analysis.
Offline marketing tends to lead more towards qualitative data and you get more of a ‘feel’, or ‘gut instinct’ as to the success of a project as you can see in real time the response of the customer. In a schools infancy, school fairs and print media can be important to get the name of the school ‘out there’ however as the school becomes more established, word of mouth and online media becomes much better value for money.
Invest with what you know works. Don’t allow a marketing budget to be determined by ‘what is left’ in the school budget. Marketing should be seen as an investment, not an expense.
Identify New Market Opportunities to be Investigated in The Coming Year
Keep up to date with education trends, keep an eye on parent forums. What are parents saying about education in the area? Are there any ways to hone in on this to attract more parents by offering what they want? This is particularly important for school looking to expand and attract more students.
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