Headmasters Q&A session
A trip to Cromer! What could have lured Sanjay and me up to Norfolk all of a sudden? Well, it’s not every day that you are fortunate enough to get an audience with six Prep School Heads for a fact finding Q&A on schools marketing.
A trip to Cromer! What could have lured Sanjay and me up to Norfolk all of a sudden? Well, it’s not every day that you are fortunate enough to get an audience with six Prep School Heads for a fact finding Q&A on schools marketing, which was kindly organised by independent schools marketing consultant Suzanne Warner. Neither of us had visited the area before, so off we went with eager anticipation. We arrived at Cromer, which is a wonderfully quaint little railway station, set our bags down and with the usual expectation of Londoners looked for a taxi. Not one in sight. Anywhere. We eventually found a taxi driver en route somewhere else who promised to come back and pick us up! Something you don’t see in the capital!
Onwards we went and met the Heads at the Red Lion pub, a novel meeting place it would seem, but it turned out to be perfect as it created an informal and relaxed environment, a far cry from the rush of London life. The group had enjoyed a day of golf in the sun and they were in good spirits.
The proceedings kicked off with mutual introductions and an overview of ckd. However, as our main purpose was to fact find about their approach to marketing we started the question session. It became clear early on that there were very different thoughts with some schools needing to work harder to get more ‘bang for their buck’. ckd can help here as our skills lie in maximising budgets and extracting and enhancing Brand value. It’s our passion.
We started off discussing traditional marketing methods which revealed that some Heads felt that advertising held little value for them, although it is more applicable for other types of schools and markets. Sponsorship was raised as a more productive use of the marketing budget. That said, conventional printed marketing materials were well received within the group, cost effective solutions with proven ROI for respective clients. One Head demonstrated a novel approach to finding out how the community influences prospective parents by visiting local estate agents with a pretend budget (in the millions!) to see which schools they would recommend and use as a selling point to house hunters.
It can’t just be about marcomms though right? Indeed, the personal aspect was given great weight. Given the age of the pupils, the Heads play a huge role in converting enquiries to filled places, to the extent that one said the ultimate decision most probably lay with the impression the Head makes. Parents want to feel they are handing over their little bundles of joy to someone they like and can trust, with whom the chemistry works like any other relationship. They felt they had to make themselves as available as possible to meet parents without committing so much time to it that they are not running the school, which could be viewed negatively.
And what of digital media? Well, more importantly social media, which always seems to polarise opinions. Some were simply not interested but others offered a more cautious approach whilst understanding the importance and value of engaging with a wider audience and community, thus increasing brand awareness. I liked the fact that they offer coffee mornings with parents to get feedback on their websites to gauge user experience directly from those who interact with it.
After concluding the session we left the group to have their well deserved dinner for which ckd sponsored the wine. We came away from the meeting feeling it was an extremely productive session. A wonderful insight into respective leadership. Not to mention some leads as a result, a worthwhile trip! Sanjay and I took a pleasant stroll along the seafront to round the evening off and it seemed only right to finish off with fish and chips in a local bistro!