From my extensive experience of interacting with over 350 premium schools across the Indian subcontinent, I have learnt a couple of things that have largely influenced my opinion. Every school is unique in what it has to offer. Between curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings, parents are quite literally spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the right school for their ward.
According to India’s 2018 Education Report, the country has over 1.4 million schools educating 200 million students. The schools include premium, budget and government schools, which cater to students from all socio-economic classes. Of these schools, only 23.8% belong to the private sector aggregating to 349,412 schools. The pressure on parents only increases with the realisation that choosing a school is going to have a lifelong impact on the child. The question isn’t about if they should invest; the question is where they should invest.
The questions that strike parents when it comes to making the big decision are obvious. However, what’s not obvious is where do parents find answers to these questions; and equally important is how do you, as a school, answer these questions?
With the advent of technology, all it takes for a parent to review a school and form perception is one simple Google search; which has the potential to greatly influence their decision whether to associate with your school. So, my question to you is - How can you ensure that this search throws up results that put your school in the best light? How can you ensure organically that your school pops up as one of the top ten suggested by any search engine and for the right reasons?
Here’s where your school’s branding and marketing will play a key role...
Technology driven content consumption has made it imperative that schools invest in building their brand and marketing it well. Many schools are waking up to the reality that branding goes beyond a well-crafted logo and a caller tune that plays the school song. Likewise, marketing also goes beyond just having active social media pages. The world has expanded multiple folds, thanks to the ever expanding reach and effect of social media. In my opinion, a strong branding and marketing strategy has the power to increase your school’s recall, associate a positive emotional response with the brand name along with increasing the brand reputation. While the easiest way to achieve this is by emulating a big brand, it is worth getting a clarity on what you want to communicate and who it is meant for. This can be arrived at by asking two key questions; who am I and who do I want to be, as your journey from where you are to where you would like to reach will be facilitated by your branding and marketing strategy born out of these questions.
The strategy thus arrived at should then encapsulate your core values as an institution. Your brand story should be narrated in a way, that the mission and vision statement should speak through the social media campaigns, your school’s strengths and your passion as an educator should be crafted and portrayed creatively onto your social media pages. This will help your school set itself apart from other schools in the city or region. All other key aspects of your school like faculty, students, management and alumni should be paid equal importance in the marketing campaigns as they are the pillars that will create a sense of belief and trust in the minds of parents. After all, a school is much more than a shiny building and expansive facilities like library, computer lab, swimming pool etc.
It is also interesting to note that despite the popular opinion that traditional advertising is on its way to extinction, newspaper, hoardings, television, etc. have a reasonable reach and cannot be discounted. In fact, print media still carries a very high trust quotient and can be very helpful in creating the right perception in the minds of the readers.
Before I sign off, I would like to leave you with some food for thought – How do you use your school’s social media? Do you use it strategically to drive home certain key messages that align with your key values? Or do you use it trivially to announce the regular updates? Do send in your replies at firstname.lastname@example.org
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