As a school marketer, the work you do is integral to the success of your school in the long run. You know it, we know it, and your colleagues know it… but does the senior leadership team (SLT) in your school know it?
In a perfect world, you’d be given full autonomy to make marketing decisions for the school and exercise complete control over the message you present to prospects. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right approach, you can easily get your SLT onside and get back to doing what you do best – with fewer questions, less headaches and better results.
In this article, we’d like to share with you the five great ways to get the senior leadership team on board with your work. If you’re interested in learning how to overcome this challenge, then read on!
#1: Get Clear On Your Responsibilities Upfront
If you’ve worked in a few different schools, you’ve probably learned that some of them have a very broad definition of what “school marketing” entails.
In the span of a regular working day, we’ve heard that some school marketers could have to organise a school trip, arrange transport for students, then quickly switch to drafting a job description for a new open position – not exactly the work they signed up for!
If the SLT in your school is used to treating their marketing department as a Swiss Army Knife (i.e. expecting them to handle anything they’re given), you may have a difficult time selling them on your value as a marketing specialist.
Getting clear on the importance of marketing to the school will allow you to escape this trap over time – but before you can do this, you need to know what they expect of you going in, as this will determine how difficult the next few tips will be to implement.
#2: Host a Discovery Afternoon for Your SLT
As a marketing professional, there’s a great deal of knowledge you might take for granted that would be amazing to someone else. That includes your senior leadership team: unless they have formal training in the field, it’s quite possible they’re unfamiliar with the basics of marketing (and just how valuable it can be for their school).
To bridge this knowledge gap, it can be a good idea to host a “discovery afternoon” with your SLT. Think of this like an educational seminar from one professional to another – no fuss, no expectations, just a helpful transfer of information.
Of course, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t act like the information you’re delivering is very remedial, as that’s likely to make getting their support even harder!
You can avoid this issue by presenting your points as your way of doing things. Rather than making it into a lecture, make it into a personal presentation and demonstrate your insights into the work.
In this kind of session, it can be helpful to cover:
- The fundamentals of marketing
- The mediums you like to use (e.g. Facebook advertising) and why
- Your key goals for the academic year, and
- Your plans for achieving them
Encourage your SLT to ask any questions they may have, as this will help to ensure you’re all on the same page.
We’ve seen this kind of session be incredibly helpful for many school marketers, so don’t neglect this step!
#3: Speak the Language of Your SLT
Let’s take the tip above and go one step further.
Depending on the background of your SLT, you might find that they have a good understanding of marketing (and its true value to their school)… or they may not.
In this scenario, it’s important to remember to speak their language.
For instance, if you’re dealing with the finance professionals in the SLT, it’s a good idea to frame your points in terms of numbers. Sadly, a number of schools’ leadership teams view marketing as an unnecessary expense, but with the right information, you can get them on board with your way of doing things.
We’ve written in other articles about the increased revenue each new student brings to the school: from £4,426 to £12,239 on average, depending on the school and student in question.
When you’re clear on:
1. The monetary value each new student offers to the school, and
2. Roughly how much it costs you to acquire new enrollment via different channels
You can quickly get the financially-minded members of the SLT to understand where you’re coming from.
This also holds true for other points of contention. For instance, you can refer to this Press Gazette article for proof that diminishing circulation figures show you should invest less in print advertising, or commission MTM Consulting to analyse your pupil distribution to create targeted, data-driven marketing campaigns that are based on solid data.
Framing your work in a way that the SLT can understand will make the task of getting them on board with your work that much easier.
#4: Keep Communications Consistent Across the Board
As a school marketer, one of the most important aspects of your job is making sure that your outbound communications are consistent in style and presentation.
However, you’re probably not the only one that will be communicating with prospects and students – teachers, support staff and the SLT will all have occasion to do so too.
To help keep your style consistent, it’s a great idea to give all staff (particularly the SLT) access to a brand toolkit to keep their message consistent with the school’s image.
Make this toolkit easily accessible for all members of staff, explain how it’s used, and you’ll reap the benefits of a stronger, more consistent brand image.
#5: Ensure Everyone Knows Their Role in The Marketing Process
Assuming that your colleagues are clear on the work you do, they’ll also know that you need their input to do your job properly. Whether you want them to:
- Supply content for a newsletter
- Participate in a photoshoot for the website, or
- Offer feedback on a new campaign
You’ll often need their support to get the job done. And if you want this process to run smoothly, it helps to be upfront with what you need, relevant deadlines, and how they can deliver it to you.
There’s a whole host of great project management and collaborative working apps out there. Many of our clients use Dropbox and Trello extensively, as they’re very easy to use. You might find other solutions work better for your school – the key point here is to put systems in place that reduce headaches and make your life easier.
The work of a school marketer is critical to the success of a school in the long-term.
As the education market gets increasingly competitive and uncertainty looms large over the space, schools have to do everything they can to stand out from the competition, keep their brand consistent and secure solid enrollment numbers on a year-to-year basis.
The work of a school marketer can be misunderstood, underappreciated and even minimised in importance by an SLT that doesn’t fully understand it. It’s in everyone’s best interest if this isn’t the case – yours, the SLT’s, and the school in general…
And using the tips we’ve provided in this article, we’re confident that you can get your SLT onside with the work you do as a marketer.