Promote your school through parental engagement
Parental engagement can sometimes be seen as a bit of a “perfunctory” activity in some schools. It’s a case of broadcasting and sharing information, not necessarily starting a conversation. We’ve shared in a previous article our thoughts on how supporting more meaningful, two-way parental engagement can benefit your school, but where does school marketing come in? What if you could harness your parental engagement tools and channels to turn your school into an exemplary institution in your community, and one parents will be queueing out the door to send their kids to?
Here are 4 ways that investing time and resource in parental engagement can help you promote your school more effectively.
Create your own brand evangelists
“Brand evangelist” is a term used in marketing to describe a customer or individual that is so loyal to your brand, and so pleased with your product, they will promote it to others. In a school community, your most valuable marketing commodity has to be the parents. Parents will have groups of friends in the local area with children coming up to school age (whether that’s primary or secondary), and an ideal scenario is that they say “my kid goes to [your school], it’s really good”. At the very least, should said friend ask them about your school, you want them to respond with as much positivity as possible. Facilitating meaningful two-way engagement with parents is the way to make them feel really warm and loyal towards your school. If they feel listened to and respected as a member of the school community, they will pay you dividends by recommending you to other parents.
Hook in with other channels
Using a parental engagement tool or app, you can bring together all of your communication channels into one platform. That means things like social media and your website can be updated all in one place, so you can get the message out to parents, as well as prospective parents, at the touch of a button. Using a channel like social media, you can showcase to prospective parents the diverse range of engaging activities you host as a school, as well as the open communication you have with parents. In a world where web presence is like the shop window for a brand, you should think of your school in this way too. Parents thinking of sending your kids to your school are likely to do research before they make a decision, and having an engaging web and social presence is a great way to warm them to your school’s “brand”, and make them want to be a part of it!
Get your staff in marketing mode
Mastering marketing can be a tricky one if it’s not your background. It can be difficult to figure out how to structure certain messages, how to get them in front of the right people, and how to make them engaging. “Practising” on existing parents is a great way to do a bit of experiential learning on marketing to a wider audience and test the waters a bit. Whichever team or team member is responsible for school marketing can use engagement with existing parents as a bit of a training exercise – learning what type of language works best, the best time of day for messages, what type of social post gets the most engagement, and so on. When it comes time to craft messages and material for prospective parents, they’ll be well-versed in the tone-of-voice and promotional language of the school, and the exercise will be much more successful and less daunting as a result.
Ask for feedback
Slightly related to the point above, engaging with existing parents gives you the opportunity to do a bit of “market research”. Using your parental engagement app or tool to distribute, you could create a survey or questionnaire to share with parents to get some idea of what they like about your school, and what could be improved. As an aside – this is generally good practice anyway, and it’s something which Ofsted encourage. Using this technique you can lean on existing parents to give you the kind of insight you need as to why they choose to send their children to your school, which if employed in the right way can give you some ready made marketing messaging. If you get a particularly positive quote or testimonial from a parent, you could also ask their permission to share it on other school marketing materials like your website, social media or prospectus (if it’s a particular good one!).
Whether it’s driving engagement with existing parents, or looking for ways to market to prospective ones, we can give you the tools and the guidance you need to develop and execute a successful engagement strategy.