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Education in a brave new world

Education in a brave new world

newfocus is working with a number of clients in the education space who seek to understand the perceptions, positioning and penetration of their brands in the relevant marketplace. Our experience has shown that principals, teachers and other education specialists, more than ever, have extremely complex roles to play. Schools and universities are no longer seen as just a place of education but organisations seeking to develop appropriate marketing strategies to build relevant brand awareness and reputation, and encourage future growth. We are experiencing a dramatic rise in competition in this market sector, with some participants embracing emerging marketing trends while others are lagging behind.

According to MD Graham Bean:

We are seeing a rapidly growing disparity between educational facilities that are abreast of online methodologies and those who are exclusively relying on the traditional methods of marketing.

For many education professionals, their role has shifted from a teaching role that originally attracted them as educators, towards increasing complexity in the skill set required. Educators now have more responsibility and accountability for all aspects of children’s lives in schools. In addition, there is often no funding to outsource non-core parts of running a school – the teaching staff must do it themselves. They now have to manage administration, compliance, social, emotional and behavioural issues of student, and manage their parents! Despite this increased demand, many education professionals believe that the value of their profession and their recognition in the community is in decline. In addition, they perceive themselves as having a lack of control with staffing and limited flexibility to hire, fire or retain staff.

What we have learned – informing our education clients

  • the strength of word of mouth as a marketing tool is paramount
    • the opinions of family and friends can be the most influential in an individual’s search for information about schools
  • the most important considerations for parents when deciding on a school for their children
    • quality of education
    • academic focus
    • campus facilities
    • good quality teaching staff (experienced and consistent)
  • children are influential in their schooling decision
    • children have a higher influence in the decision to leave a school than in the enrolment process
    • schools need retention tools to deal with this, eg early detection methods
  • importance of identifying and promoting a point of difference
    • important to position school uniquely whilst maintaining a focus on the most important aspects (quality of education and value for money)
  • extremely important to get the communication channels right
    • effective methods for reaching the school’s target segments often include:
      • website (ensuring it is best practice). Many parents indicate they come across schools from an initial Google search. It is important for schools to invest in developing best practice websites in terms of information needs and functionality
      • electronic newsletters
      • often a strong dislike for any form of large scale outdoor advertising, eg bus ads
    • don’t forget to engage with the wider community and old scholars/alumni
      • there are no better salespeople than the current students and past scholars/alumni

These are just some of the key themes we have gleaned from our extensive experience in the education arena that have assisted our education clients with the creation of strategic plans and communication strategies to build their brand awareness and positioning.

In summary, it takes more than pedagogy to make a successful school.

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