Tuesday, 22 February 2011


A question that crops up more regularly today than it did in the past

"Have we got our strategy right?"

“Do we need to stand out from the crowd, it must mean we need a new strategy a new goal!”

Professor Marshall McLuhan used to say the “media was the message” it’s not what you say but the way you say it.- Are we on facebook. The Linkedin Blog have we got this on twitter, how is our IT profile, are we fully maximising the media?

I was at a Schools Marketing conference recently and a designer told me his strategy was to ditch what had been done before and advocate the new. His sales strategy was simply to promote a “new product”, complete with seductive packaging and a new logo. Packaging for him, in his opinion was the best way to increase his business strategy and hopefully the school’s profile.

What’s this all about, what’s going on?

It would seem to me there are a number of issues here that are getting out of balance. Only yesterday a newly appointed marketing lady said to me: “send me some of your work, but I’m only interested if it’s different”.

Why dose “different” make it any more successful in the market place?

We are in the middle, of a financial squeeze. Parents want the very best school for their children, and schools are trying hard to win their attention. They cannot afford to take risks with designer’s fantasies in this highly competitive climate.

Yet so many he marketing teams continue to persuade the head and the governors that “whiz” is the elusive panacea that will get the parents jamming the school’s phones.

But the brutal reality is that even though an application of ephemeral whiz can hide a poor school, it can be detrimental to the integrity of a good school.

More than ever, parents want clarity so that the task of comparing the merits of one school with another are simplified. A marketing strategy that promotes staged smiling children is most un-helpful in defining what takes place in the schools curriculum. Parents want to know what goes on both inside and outside the class room They want to know about the facilities, the ambiance, the location pastoral care the qualities that make a child’s life at that school special.

In essence, each school needs to deliver substance, the marketing material should be seen as the vehicle. The packaging is important, but the tail should not wag the dog! It is important to be IT savvy, but do ensure there is quality in the message. It is vital that in any production there is meaningful content, which constructively informs the inquisitive parent and student.

Only recently I saw a designer had persuaded his client to buy into some very expensive display cases that once opened, revealed a. small and diminutive prospectus inside. One needs to strike a balance between recognising a good creative idea, and one that looks too keen to capture your attention, I dread to think what the school is being charged for postage! Schools are exciting places where the culture of teaching and learning creates sunning images use them! If only the pizazz has been generated by the core business of the School, rather than the wrapping, that would be impressive!