That Autumnal Feeling
September brings with it a fresh approach, a new spring in the step and a slightly worrying feeling that you’re looking forward to putting the heating on. Autumn is upon us and the countdown to Christmas has begun. Parents have sunk deep into their pockets to afford the new uniforms while the children have taken great delight choosing new stationery (my personal favourite too). The start of a new academic year promises new routines as pupils enter a new school year and the different challenges they will face – new teachers, new subjects, more homework. If you haven’t already done so, now is also the time to review your Marketing Plan and consolidate your own challenges for the year ahead in your school.
Your Marketing Plan should already be a detailed document and one which you refer to throughout each academic year. It should run alongside your school’s Development Plan with not only yearly targets but what you wish to achieve in five years’ time. The overriding factors for most independent schools will be to increase pupil numbers, enhance their reputation in the wider community and beyond while also continuing to concentrate on bringing their best service to their current families. But, now is the time to drill down into your Marketing Plan and ask yourself what you can achieve within a realistic timescale in order to fulfil your targets. Make sure you discuss at length with your Head their expectations of the Marketing Office for this academic year. You may also have a Governor with responsibility for Marketing so it is also important to include and discuss your plan and targets with this particular Governor or perhaps you have a wider Marketing Committee.
Keep on Track
Once you have set your targets for this academic year and come up with plans of how to achieve those targets, make sure you budget accordingly and be realistic with your Head about what your plans will cost to the Marketing budget. You also have to continually review your performance and measure success. It is vital you keep on track with your targets even though I know how hard it is to be distracted by minor jobs, constant emails and problems that will crop up in your day-to-day work. Think to yourself at the end of each day, what have I done to work towards my targets? Have I achieved anything? If you haven’t, ask yourself why and figure out a way to combat this. Then, take a longer view, month by month and looking at where you are, in conjunction with your Head. The Marketing Plan is not a moveable feast, but neither is it set in stone. It is a working document that should allow you some breadth.
Get Everyone Involved
Being the Marketing Manager of an independent school can sometimes be a very lonely job and you feel you’re the only one pushing towards the targets. But, make sure your staff get involved too – ask them for stories which will turn into Press Releases and social media posts, gauge news stories and communication with a few trusted parents and ask your Governors to make sure they’re spreading the word about your school too. Even though your Marketing targets may not be shared in detail with all the staff, it is vital to keep conveying to them how important it is that your school moves together and achieves common goals. Autumn is the perfect time to start afresh, to focus and to relish the opportunities a new academic year brings.