If your school is in the unfortunate position of being under-subscribed then you will understand the negative effect this can have. Reduced staffing, budgets cut and limited resources can affect morale and possibly your school’s performance.
If your school budgets have been cut then investing in a costly marketing campaign to try and target prospective parents to your school will have been ruled out. You may have tried and tested the traditional methods of mail dropping leaflets to your local area or putting a banner outside of your school but to no avail.
Have you thought of using Facebook Ads for your school?
Now we don’t work for Facebook nor endorse them in any way shape or form however, what we do know is that there are 2.41billion monthly active users (MAU) as of June 2019 (Source: Facebook 24/7/19). What’s more, the data that Facebook collects allows targeting of any ads to be focused entirely on your target market.
So, for example, you may be a small school in York who is looking at targeting parents in a specific post code area that is within your catchment or you may be looking at acquiring pupils from further afield. Facebook targeted ads allows you to filter your ads ensuring those ONLY in those areas may see your ad.
In addition to that, you can also target your market by gender, age, interests and may other demographics.
There are a number of ways to set up an Ad but if you are new to this, you may want to start with the most simplest set up which we have created 5 simple steps for below.
5 simple steps to set up your Facebook Ad
Step 1. Open your School Page and Select Promote
You will need to have a Business Page set up for your school to run your ad. If you haven’t set one up yet you need to do this first.
Select the Promote button from within your School Page on Facebook. Take a look at the image below of the iTCHYROBOT Facebook page. You can find the blue PROMOTE button on the left hand side of the page.
Step 2. Choose Your Objective
You need to be clear with your ad what you want to achieve. If you are looking to get people to visit your school website (in particular your admissions page) then you would select ‘get more website visitors’. If you want to get people’s contact information to enable you to proactively market your school to then select ‘Get more leads’.
If you have an objective of increasing your school admissions and have an Open Day that you are wanting people to attend then you can select ‘Boost an event’. You will need to have already have an event set up in order to Boost the event so make sure if your objective is to get people to attend your school Open day that you have already set up the event.
Step 3. Add Your images, text and call to action
Now create your ad with a suitable image. So, for example, if you are boosting your Open Day event you may want to add an image of your Nursery play area or an image of your school.
Add your text and a call to action. Your call to action will be linked to the promotion you selected in the previous step. So, if the promotion is to boost your event then the action will be ‘Interested’. If it is to get website visitors then it will be ‘Visit’ or ‘Learn more’
Step 4. Create Your Audience
This is where you can target your ideal market. In the example below, I want to target parents who have pre-school children (ideal for my open event to increase my school admissions) within a 14 mile radius of Guisborough. As you can see, I have a market reach of 70,000 people.
Step 5. Set up Your Budget
You can set up budgets for your ads and this will ensure that you never go above this budget. You can select the duration for your ad and also the daily budget per day.
Once your ad is set to run you can monitor your success and make sure you follow up on all of those interactions!
5 Marketing Tips to improve your Primary School Admissions
How do you attract new pupils to your school and how do you reach out to parents who are considering schools for their children? In this current economic climate, your reliance on gaining pupils is crucial to maintaining school budgets
You may be in the position of being oversubscribed in which case admissions does not pose a problem but what about those schools who are competing for pupils?
Your recruitment strategy needs to be a consistent delivery of marketing strategies throughout the year however, there are many tactics that can still be used to give your school the best chance of filling its places.
Here are 5 tips that will help your school to attract parents
Clear, consistent brand and messages
Your school values and story say everything your parents need to know about your school and this should be reflected consistently and continuously across all forms of communication. Does your website reflect what you are doing and saying on social media or is your website reflective of your school full stop!?
Look at your values and ensure you are always proving these in your stories, posts and communications.
If your message is that you create a nurturing environment or you are focused on the wider curriculum then this needs to be apparent in everything you say and do across your communication channels.
Define and review your internal admissions process
You will already know how parents can apply for places within your school. If you are a maintained school then this is predominantly through the local authority and so you may not have much input. However, what you can take ownership of is parents who do contact the school – how are there queries answered, how are you storing their details.
Set up a database of all parental enquiries, and implement a process for following these up?
Make your website a selling tool
Be honest, if you were a parent looking at your school website would you be assured your school is saying all the right things? Does it really sell your school?
Any parent in the fortunate position of choosing a school for their child will be undertaking a due diligence exercise and as part of this your school website will be the first place they go.
If you take a fashion retail site for example, they would cater their home page of their website for promotions at varying times of the year. Christmas, for example, their home page would be packed with christmas party dresses, gifts, etc. How can your school take advantage of this?
Create a section on your homepage at key times throughout the year for these activities. You should have your home page set up for admissions with links to a page created specifically for parents considering applying to your school.
Create a page specifically for prospective parents and really focus on your school values and how you are different. Most admission pages I see just include some text on what the process for admission is – How does this encourage a parent to want to come to your school!?
Use the power of social media
I don’t have to convince you that social media is one of the main forms of communication in this decade – like it or hate it, it is here and should be exploited as much as possible. AND IT’S FREE!
How are you using social media to raise awareness of your school outside of your current stakeholders?
Facebook in particular has created a fantastic advertising portal whereby all target markets can be identified and targeted through effective advertising based on their age, location, hobbies and interests. The cost of advertising through Facebook is also significantly cheaper than mainstream advertising in newspapers or magazines and what’s more the statistics and measurements of success are readily available to you.
Try a mini campaign using Facebook ads, create an effective advert and select your target audience, monitor the reach and engagement with your advert and opt to boost this ad if it is proving to be successful.
Go out into the community
Your prospective parents are in your community and they aren’t coming into your school why not go out to them? There are lots of venues within all communities that have a large amount of footfall and passing trade to enable you to target a large amount of people at minimal cost.
Take your local supermarket for example, all parents will visit their supermarket. Approach your local supermarket and ask if you can put a stand (pull up banner), take leaflets, giveaways or something to attract people over. Get some of your current parents to represent the school and approach people who have young children with them, ask if they have their child enrolled at the school. If they don’t invite them to a parent/child play session at your nursery and collate their details.
There must be several mother and toddler groups operating in your area, find out who hosts these and approach them and ask if you can go along and give some information on their school or work with them to host a messy play or education session with their toddlers.
Why your MAT website could be doing you more harm than good!
The Multi Academy Trust website is more often than not borne of a necessity to at least get something ‘out there’ without giving thought as to how your MAT website could actually sell your Trust to potential schools.
Some MAT’s do not even have a website and use the individual academy websites to publish the relevant information. Also it is not a REQUIREMENT to have a website, it is essential if you are looking to grow your MAT.
From undertaking research of A LOT of MAT websites, they have the usual statutory information on there, which I have listed below as a reminder:
- Annual Accounts no later than the end of January following the financial year to which the accounts relate. It is also best practice to retain the previous 2 years accounts on your website
- Memorandum & Articles of Association and Master Funding Agreement
- Governance information
- Structure and remit of members
- Board of trustees
- Committees and local governing bodies
- Full names of the chairs of each
- Scheme of delegation
- For each member, trustee and local governor who has served at any point over the last 12 months
- Full name
- Date of appointment
- Date they stepped down (where applicable)
- Attendance records over the last year
- Relevant business and pecuniary interests
- Copy of the admission arrangements for the current year
- Admissions appeals timetable
- Details of the time taken off by staff who are union officials
- Details of the MAT
- Company Number
- Registered Office
There is also additional information which tends to be relatively standard:
- Details and links to the Academies within the Trust
- Welcome message from the CEO
- Trust Policies
And to be honest, not much else!
How does this hinder the growth of your MAT?
Your Trust website should not ever be viewed with the same objectives as what your school website is. It is not a portal to comply with Ofsted (well at least not yet), it is in essence a website to celebrate your successes and to inspire potential teaching staff to want to join your trust as well as pitching your Trust at the right level to acquire additional schools.
Let’s take the example of any persons buying behaviour (and I appreciate this isn’t a product you are selling), where is the first place you go to either find out more information, or look at reviews as to what other people think of that product/service?
Yes, the website!
Think about the potential schools visiting your site, why would they want to join your trust? Having some statutory information on your site isn’t enough to convince anyone to join you over another trust.
How do you promote how your Trust is different, how do you support your schools, what schools are you looking to join your trust, what successes have you had?
So what could you include on your Trust website?
I would refer you to the questions above. How can you promote how your Trust is different? Could this be translated through case studies of how you have supported other schools? Are you a nurturing Trust who has that ‘hand holding approach to support? What is your Vision – if this is clear then only schools that share your vision will want to be part of it. That’s half of your job done for you. You want schools that share this vision and therefore you will be attracting school that fit with your vision and values.
Obtain some positive testimonials or stories from your schools as to how being part of the Trust has helped them?
Publish how you do help them. What is the process for joining your Trust? How do schools contact you if they are interested in finding out more about your Trust?
How credible are the leaders in your Trust? Do you have profiles of the executive team and what qualifies them to give your potential new schools faith in why your Trust should be the one they join?
Do you have a careers section? How is your Trust supporting the staff?
Show how you are celebrating and sharing the successes of ALL of your schools through a news section and share the great news and stories from the schools within your Trust.
I hope this has given you some food for thought.