Name: David Milner
Job title: International Marketing Manager
Current place of employment: Sedbergh School
Years’ experience in education marketing: 9 years
How did you get into schools marketing?
I never chose to have a career in educational marketing, it just happened. Having graduated from university I was given the opportunity to do some voluntary work as a marketing assistant at a college in the North East, before joining Newcastle University careers service and then taking the leap into the Independent Schools sector. In this sector, it is very much about experience and networking the latter opens up so many doors and opportunities.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about your role?
In my current role as International Marketing Manager it involves a great deal of overseas travel across Europe and Asia. It sounds like a holiday to some, however, it is the complete opposite…
What do you feel has been the most significant change in your profession since you first started working as a school marketer?
Working in marketing, every day is different, you are continuously researching new technology, planning and striving to meet targets. The biggest change I have found, is how dependant we have become on digital marketing and the many channels we have available to us in order to raise brand awareness.
Your top tip for engaging stakeholders in your marketing?
It is all about communicating with your stakeholders on a regular basis – tailor your messages depending on the stakeholder and make sure information is relevant.
What do you think makes for a successful school marketing campaign?
Having just spent the last 15 months working on our school’s new marketing campaign ‘The Spirit of Sedbergh’, it is clear to me that a successful campaign all comes down to research, planning and implementation. This is also assisted by having full support from governors, senior management and the entire school community.
Preferred social media channel?
In my current role, my preferred social media channel is LinkedIn, it is a great opportunity to share good practise with schools, establish new working relationships with industry experts and raise awareness of the school on a professional platform.
If you had endless budget, what would you implement into your school’s marketing?
It should be about spending what you have effectively and monitoring your ROI. An endless budget wouldn’t exactly mean an increase in applications and I am delighted with what we achieve at Sedbergh School on the budget we have in place.
Moment you have been most proud of in your current role?
Apart from launching our recent campaign at Sedbergh School, my proudest moment at Sedbergh is when I took part in a charity skydive with 16 students from Sedbergh Senior School. I raised over £1000 for my chosen charity SEED, which is a charity that supports people with eating disorders. Since the skydive, I have now become a brand ambassador for the charity and continue to support them in fundraising and raising awareness of the educational toolkit they offer to schools.
How much do you rely on data to inform your strategy?
Without data, you can’t have an effective strategy. We rely on it a lot, not just from data we have collected, but also statistics provided by educational experts and organisations.
What do you see as being the most significant change/trend school marketers will face in the next 10 years?
In marketing we are very much used to change, especially when it comes to trends but I reckon more and more schools will invest heavily in digital and move away from your more traditional means of marketing. We have already seen an increase in organisations investing in AR, will this replace school visits??? Who knows…
The dreaded ‘B’ word! Do you think Brexit will have an impact on your role? If so, how?
Brexit in some way, will impact on every person in the UK, whether it be good or bad. We are still unsure on what impact it will make to the European recruitment market but I do know for sure I will probably end up standing in queues at the airport for longer!!!
What are your favourite professional resources (e.g. blogs, authors, books, etc.) you use in your role?
My favourite resources come from my time networking with other marketing professionals, headteachers and fellow board directors at AMCIS, I gain a lot more from face to face discussions and telephone calls.
What’s the best piece of career-specific advice you ever got?
I was always told to believe in yourself and take on challenges but don’t be frightened to make mistakes, just make sure you learn from them. I didn’t have all of the experience required when I applied and became a marketing manager in education at 21, but I was ready for a challenge and when I look back now, it was the best thing I ever did.
What’s the one piece of advice would you give to a new school marketer?
Network, network, network – don’t be frightened to contact another marketer at a competitor school – we are all in the same sector, but we must support each other.
If you weren’t a school marketer, what would be your alternative job?
As an avid whisky collector and investor, I’d like to think I would be running my own whisky business and supporting a number of charities with fundraising and marketing support.