Name: Lucy King
Job title: Marketing and Communications Consultant
Years’ experience in education marketing: 15
How did you get into schools marketing?
Having worked for over 10 years in Further and Higher Education marketing, I saw a marketing role advertised with Bellevue Education, based at the school locally where my daughter had previously attended the nursery. I was attracted to the idea of working in a new sector, as well as the opportunity to get involved in a role that combined both strategy and implementation, enabling me to keep my finger on the pulse with all the latest developments in marketing. I enjoyed my role, but in January this year the time felt right to fulfil a long-held ambition to start my own consultancy business.
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about your role?
There are many misconceptions! I am often asked, “So, what do you actually do?” I’m sure many people think marketers just do ‘advertising’. As anyone who works in marketing knows, advertising is only a tiny part of what we do. I’m a generalist, so it’s a real challenge describing what I do!
What do you feel has been the most significant change in your profession since you first started working as a school marketer?
The main change has been the advancement of digital technologies and the need to ensure schools are meeting parents’ communication needs and expectations – for example by having a mobile responsive website and making effective use of social media platforms. I’ve also noticed more senior-level marketing roles being advertised in schools. Marketing and communications are vitally important functions in a school and it’s great to see schools investing in this area.
Your top tip for engaging stakeholders in your marketing?
Marketing is both an art and a science, so you need to start by looking at the data. Develop personas for your target audience and tailor your messaging. Understand their marketing preferences, what media they consume, and when is best to engage them, whether that’s the best time to post on social, or the best time to run an event. Knowledge is power!
What do you think makes for a successful school marketing campaign?
Planning, planning and more planning! Take the time to consider your goals and who you’re trying to reach with the campaign, as well as how you’ll measure success. A strong cross-platform creative concept can also be really helpful and can help schools to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Preferred social media channel?
I’ve been a big fan of social media since the inception of Facebook (which makes me feel pretty old!) and have personal profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I’d struggle to pick a favourite, as I use them for different things, but currently, I probably spend the most time on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Do you feel there’s any aspect of digital advertising/social media that’s underrated/overrated?
I’ve found advertising on Google Ads highly effective and I also think there are real opportunities for schools to do more to improve their own SEO with a tailored website content strategy to help prospective parents find them online. In terms of social media, Twitter is underrated and is a great way to engage with other education professionals and members of the teaching community, while I also think there are opportunities for schools to do more with LinkedIn, especially in terms of growing and developing Alumni communities.
If you had endless budget, what would you implement into your school’s marketing
With endless budget, it would be great to do more video. It can be expensive, but is so effective for generating an emotional connection.
Moment you have been most proud of in your current role?
While at Bellevue, I wrote a press piece on a teacher at one of the schools who was celebrating her 45th year of teaching, with 40 years at the same school. She was a reluctant interviewee but eventually agreed! The article was picked up by many local media outlets and led to an outpouring of memories and warm feelings about her and the school, which tied in perfectly with its positioning as a small, close-knit family community. It also gave her a great confidence boost, which made me feel very happy.
What are your favourite tools to make your job easier as a school marketer?
I’m a big fan of the Google Suite for its collaborative tools and forms and use my calendar to help organise my tasks each week. I’m also a fan of pixlr.com for photo editing, Canva for social media graphics, and Hootsuite for social media scheduling.
How much do you rely on data to inform your strategy?
Lots! A good strategy has to be based on data.
What do you see as being the most significant change/trend school marketers will face in the next 10 years?
Automation and artificial intelligence seem to be the biggest change/trend marketers need to be aware of currently, as technology in this area continues to advance at pace. However, I feel that moving forward, the most successful schools will recognise that like in other businesses, customer experience underpins everything; in essence, if they’re providing a great experience, the marketing takes care of itself. Digital developments are exciting, but we shouldn’t lose focus on people, and what matters – which is, of course, the children and parents at our schools.
What are your favourite professional resources (e.g. blogs, authors, books, etc.) you use in your role?
I read widely and love to follow marketing blogs. The Hubspot blog is great. I also receive the ISC’s daily news summary which provides a great overview of the day’s big education stories.
What’s the best piece of career-specific advice you ever got?
Stay curious – there’s always something new to learn.
What’s the one piece of advice would you give to a new school marketer?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and put the time in to build relationships with people in school. Chat to everyone and anyone, from the bus driver to the Headteacher, and involve the whole school as much as possible with what you’re doing in marketing.
If you weren’t a school marketer, what would be your alternative job?
My dream job as a child was to become a Blue Peter presenter! I’d still love to work in the media. My favourite thing in the world is meeting people and telling their stories.