How independent school parents actually decide to ‘buy’ – it’s not your standard marketing…

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Do you accept the premise that marketing in independent schools is different to marketing in any other market sector?

If you answer yes, carry on reading … If you answer no, go straight down the page to paragraph B.

A. Acknowledging marketing in schools is different how do we optimise our opportunities?
The typical journey consisting of perhaps: seeing an advert; a phone call to school; the prospectus; a visit to an Open Day; a meeting with the Head – repeated 3, 4, 5 times depending on how much time can be devoted to the search and so to a decision.

Now it’s merely a two stage, but complex process. It starts with the Social Information Networks. Yes the Dinner Party circuit is alive and kicking, but now also happening at the gym, at the coffee house, at the golf club – in the numerous places parents meet. There is enormous interconnectivity between our target market who are actually networks of influencers and connections. Social success is defined by how well you access peer to peer information, with schools and education falling very centrally within it. And it’s not only happening in person – the digital world has truly revolutionised the opportunity for parents to gather information, both anecdotal and data based. In this model the school website is absolutely critical – it will be scrutinised and studied and needs to reflect accurately what you are offering, a quick ‘bounce’ away and the opportunity could be lost. Similarly a good Social Media presence is critical.

It is now suggested that many parents arrive for the school visit only to validate the decision they have already made …

CKD can offer advice, experience and knowledge with regard to your digital strategy – website, social media, communications – ‘marcomms’ has never been such a truism.

B. So, you don’t believe marketing in schools is different to other sectors?
Well, parents respond in a very particular way, different to the marketing of any other product or service – the way in which they move along the ‘customer journey’ and decision-making ‘funnel’ is very specific and contrary, even strongly resistant, to typical marketing methods. The independent sector has fragmented into numerous different parent types, and how these various types approach the process of selecting and then choosing a school is also very different.

Not only do we need to differentiate by parent types, but we are engaging with parents when they are taking decisions about the most precious thing in their life – their children and simultaneously making a huge, if not one of their largest financial commitments.

Their children and their money – there’s the difference.

If you now agree that marketing in schools is different please go back and read paragraph A!