Education marketing strategy is a game of two halves

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Ask José Mourinho (Chelsea Football Club Manager) how tough is it at the top? and he would say he would rather be at the top than looking at the top. Once you have reached the top it is a position to defend and brings into play a whole new set of strategies and tactics.  You are not successful if you are not adapting to the circumstances. It is said that the success Sir Alex Ferguson (arguably Manchester United’s greatest ever manager) had was due to his role not being a football manager but a manager of change.

And how fortunes change – ask Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool Football Club Manager) who, but for one fatal slip (by Steven Gerrard their most revered son, Captain and talisman) would have almost certainly won the Premier League title last year, yet this season they are in the doldrums and unlikely to play in the lucrative European Champions League next season.

Does money bring more money or profit? Ask Arsène Wenger (Arsenal Football Club Manager) who has spent multi-million pounds on key players, new players, marquee players yet cannot replicate the success of ‘The Invincibles’ of 10 years ago. They are the nearly men of the League, in the top 4, but never at the top. Has the game changed? Football is not the football of 10 years ago, is it more demanding and a reason why Arsenal suffer so much with injury to their star players?

Or, is it all cyclical and the clubs will all take their turn leading the pack – perhaps that was so in the 20th century but the 21st century requires the initiative to be taken, to lead strongly, to employ relevant specialists and to implement carefully constructed plans for each individual challenge.

And so it is in our world. In marketing the same rules and principles apply – we must adapt to change and to changing circumstances. We must employ alternative tactics when faced with differing situations. We must see the bigger picture and overall aim to bring into play the whole squad of activities we can utilise. We must budget accordingly and use effective and efficient ways to attract business, or in schools marketing, new pupils.

When you have a full number of pupils on roll, is the challenge then harder to maintain that number? Or do the Head and Governors extend the facilities to increase your capacity and look for greater numbers? So when you are at the top, the need then is even greater to have a clear path forward. A defined strategy to give overriding guidance and a School Business and Development Plan.

Like central defence or striker, there are marketing elements that are first on the team sheet. An appropriate web site is your central defence and social media engagement, your striker. The midfield is built up with collateral such as prospectus (printed or digital), school magazines and literature.

Campaigns are run to achieve specific aims within the overall season – within our terms there are key events, Open Mornings for example, which need support to be successful. Equally so are the retention activities to ensure current parents are wholly satisfied, the ‘Keep in Touch’ programmes which allow effective communication. As in football it is a team effort and all these elements are required to achieve the desired outcome.

That point is demonstrated best perhaps by Manchester City Football Club who transformed their club by attracting the worlds’ best and most expensive players, but who, as yet, are not able to achieve consistent success. One player carries the burden of success for them. The team not being greater than the sum of its parts.

Marketing is truly a team effort, it requires input from a range of activities and a leader who is purposeful and strong – not to mention charismatic, that is, if we are spotlighting José Mourinho…