Media buying is of vital importance to your school’s long-term success. Without great open day advertising, you’ll struggle to attract steady (or growing!) numbers of pupils every year. And without media purchases that meet your needs, your beautifully crafted ads will never be seen by your target audience in the first place.

In our experience, schools typically take one of a few different approaches to media buying.

  • Some hire dedicated in-house marketers to handle the task for them.
  • Some expect existing staff to handle the work as part of their regular duties on an as-needed basis.
  • Others still forget about the matter entirely until they’re in need of it!

As a School Marketer, you’re busy. With all you have to do, it can be hard to justify spending tonnes of time or money on outsourcing media buying, but in this article, we’ll discuss the four reasons why you should consider this option over any others.

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#1 – Domain Knowledge and Expertise

Here at Ambleglow, we’ve been working with schools all around the country for over 30 years. Private and state alike, we’ve assisted them with every marketing task under the sun: open day promotion, prospectus design, digital strategy, and yes – media buying.

We’ve helped countless schools over the past three decades to build marketing campaigns that get their message heard by parents and pupils (not just ignored). And in that time, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.

But as skilled as we are in this core domain, we don’t do everything ourselves in our own business.

For instance:

  • We don’t install our own IT systems.
  • We don’t run a side business providing catered lunches.
  • Our creative director isn’t responsible for seeing our taxes get in on time!

It’s the same for your school. For something as important as media buying, why take any chances with a DIY approach? Working with an agency will ensure your affairs are handled by someone with experience.

When results matter, you should do everything in your power to achieve great ones. And we’d argue that getting results is as important in the field of media buying as it is anywhere. The quality and cost of your advertising space will have a direct impact on how well your advertising campaigns go, which will affect your school’s success in the long run.

Agencies have to keep pace with ever-changing trends, emerging industry jargon and the increasing role of technology. That’s hard for anyone… but it’s even harder when it’s not your main business. Leave the hard work to those who are best suited for it: outsource and take advantage of that expertise.

#2 – Get Access To Valuable Data and Analytics

All properly run marketing campaigns share one thing in common – they provide you with a wealth of useful data to reflect upon once the campaign is over. But without having the knowledge required to spot the “needle in the haystack”, you could be left digging through mounds of seemingly irrelevant data in the search for something valuable. Or worse: you could skip out on meaningful analysis entirely.

This is a mistake. In our experience, the best campaigns are designed with respect to what has worked for your school in the past.

Of course, not all data points are created equal. One of the hallmarks of an effective agency (the kind you should work with) is that they focus on the most relevant metrics, leaving the rest aside.

Post-campaign analysis is vital to inform your future choices. Even with a very generous budget, maximising the impact of every pound spent is the name of the game.

Good agencies don’t just help you with data analysis. They can guide you based on their experience in the marketplace. In our case, we work directly with clients to create full-service marketing plans that cover the process from start to finish. We get to deliver great work, the client gets excellent results, and we all win.

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#3 – An Objective View

When you’re working on a project all by yourself, it can be hard to take an objective view of things. Having your own style of working is fine – but when results matter, it pays to have a fresh pair of eyes on your campaign. For example, you may go into local press every year with an open day advertisement. But is it really working? Who is still buying local press and in a digital age, is this right approach? Just because ‘every other school does it’ does not mean it’s the right thing to do for you!

We work closely with our clients to develop full-service solutions to their problems. Over time, we learn precisely what our client likes and always defer back to this if possible. At a minimum, any good agency should at least be able to tell you why something is wise (or why it’s not!).

Beyond that, a good agency will also be able to offer objective perspective.

Campaigns can suffer due to:

  • Graphic design.
  • Advertising copy.
  • Choice of advertising medium.
  • A slow-loading website.

Whatever the case may be, working with experienced experts will help you correct these errors and start getting the results you’re looking for.

#4 – Save Substantial Time and Money

All expenditure on hiring agencies falls into two categories: “expenses” and “investments”.

Expenses are those relationships that don’t play out quite like you’d hoped. You generate little return on your outlay. Results are no better than before, and overall, you’re disappointed.

Investments, though? These deliver a real ROI to your school. For every pound spent, you get back far more than that in terms of time, money and lower stress levels.

To maximise your money’s impact, seek out investments – not expenses.

Time spent on peripheral activities detracts from your core purpose. Copywriting, graphic design, dealing with media, creating advertisements and creating action plans: outsourcing these tasks is a good move for your school. Let your staff focus on their jobs – have an agency help you with everything else.

Agencies can offer you real savings when it comes to purchasing ad space. The media buying power of an established player in the education space can save you money. These savings go straight to your bottom line.

You also get to avoid those nasty hidden fees that are so common in different industries. Most agencies won’t charge you a premium for buying media on your behalf: they get paid a commission separate to what you pay.

Lastly, we also can’t forget that every extra student enrolled in your school is worth a lot – anywhere from £3,000 to £12,000+, depending on the student and school in question. Running ads represents a significant investment on your part. Why not go the extra mile and design a campaign that succeeds attracting valuable new pupils to your school?

Media buying is tough. Balancing this with all your other tasks can seem impossible. That’s why we’ve always done our best to streamline the process for our clients.

Working with an agency

  • You get access to domain-specific knowledge and expertise without having to go to the trouble of building it yourself.
  • You learn what metrics really matter for building successful recruitment campaigns.
  • You get an objective view on your situation (so hard to do when you’re the only one working on something).
  • You save time and money (from lower upfront fees, to better prices on media purchases, more student enrolment and less time wasted on peripheral admin work).

But when you’re choosing what agency to work with, due diligence is important. Think carefully and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where are they based? Local firms will have a deeper understanding of your marketplace, the competitors and footfall than ones located further afield.
  2. How they make their income (commissions, fees, “hidden charges”)?
  3. Do they understand the education marketplace? There’s plenty of media buying agencies – it’s important to find someone that understands your unique challenges.
  4. Who will be working on your account? Having a specific Account Manager that you can get to know is a great asset to any school.
  5. Do they come out and see their clients? If so, how frequently?
  6. Could you speak to one of their existing clients for an unbiased view of their services? Do they have a service-level agreement that you can look at.

Working with an agency on a media buying project is often the start of a long-term relationship, so it’s worth taking the time to make the right choice.

Whatever decision you make, we hope that this article has been useful to you!

Mo – Mailers

ambleglow expert


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