Oli Adams - Brentwood School

Name: Oli Adams

Job title: Director of Communications, Admissions & Marketing

Current place of employment: Brentwood School

Years’ experience in education marketing: 15

How did you get into schools marketing?

Purely by chance noticing the vacancy in Marketing Week.

What do you feel is the biggest misconception about your role?

That we (marketeers) are the only ones in the school responsible for marketing. (And outside of the industry, that we get the holidays off!)

Stuck for time? Download a PDF of this blog to read when you have a spare 5 mins. Just pop your details below:

What do you feel has been the most significant change in your profession since you first started working as a school marketer?

Parent power (through instant messaging apps), uncertainty and affordability, the importance of promoting wellbeing and happiness.

Your top tip for engaging stakeholders in your marketing?

Don’t stress about return on investment and make sure you’re seen where your parents go – awareness and recognition are virtually immeasurable but invaluable!

What do you think makes for a successful school marketing campaign?

Tell people a story, set yourself out from others by promoting why you’re there not just what you do (see Simon Sinek’s TED Talk ‘Start with Why’)

Preferred social media channel?

I’d love to say Insta, but I’m still stuck on Facebook as it’s been a part of me for the last 12 years. I also really like LinkedIn too.

Do you feel there’s any aspect of digital advertising/social media that’s underrated/overrated?

I wouldn’t say it’s ‘underrated’ or ‘overrated’, but it’s more often than not ‘feared’ because people are wary of their information being shared or their preferences being saved. This has never bothered me as it always seems to benefit me. It’s quite easy to unsubscribe from anything that becomes annoying or oppressive.

If you had endless budget, what would you implement into your school’s marketing?

More photography and video days.

Moment you have been most proud of in your current role?

I feel pride most weeks (rubbish answer, sorry!) when a presentation or event goes without a hitch!

What are your favourite tools to make your job easier as a school marketer?

My phone. I like to be constantly connected to everything and everyone. I’ll also mention the different lenses we have on our DSLR, which allow us to take some really good shots.

Ambleglow Mailers

How much do you rely on data to inform your strategy?

Data is incredibly important to us and we refer back to it regularly, particularly where our pupils come from and what makes them choose us over our competitors.

What do you see as being the most significant change/trend school marketers will face in the next 10 years?

In today’s world, people (me included) are already very demanding and want to know everything instantly. If there’s so much as a 2 second delay on a website or the phone rings more than three times they’ll move on. I think we’ll be expected to to be even more responsive and find other ways to connect with our prospective parents.

The dreaded ‘B’ word! Do you think Brexit will have an impact on your role? If so, how?

It’s very difficult to say. It might have an impact on our school, since many of our parents work in the city, but we’re yet to see what will happen. As for my role specifically, I think it will only become more vital. As a recent article on the MTM website stated: “Forecast conservatively and market ferociously.”

What are your favourite professional resources (e.g. blogs, authors, books, etc.) you use in your role?

I have to mention AMCIS (The Association of Admissions, Marketing & Communications in Independent Schools) since I’m currently Vice Chair. Even before I joined the board though, their events, seminars, website and professional courses are invaluable for people in our profession. It’s great to be connected to so many like-minded people.

What’s the best piece of career-specific advice you ever got?

It’s an old one but it’s probably ‘the customer is always right’. Since my first job in Waitrose while I was still at school myself, I learnt that most people are honest and trustworthy and so I always assume the best of people and put myself in their shoes before making judgements.

What’s the one piece of advice would you give to a new school marketer?

Network. Go to external conferences, events and meetings, and (if your boss is agreeable to it) get involved in school life. Join a House, join the choir, run a team. It’ll help you to integrate much more quickly and also helps to market you and your department too!

If you weren’t a school marketer, what would be your alternative job?

The best thing I did at university was DJing on the radio station, Xpression FM. I’m still really interested in new music and my terrible jokes are still worthy of a radio link, so I’d probably be a radio DJ.

Michelle – Q&As

ambleglow expert


We have plenty more Marketing Insiders Q&As for you to read.