Whether you are the person responsible for marketing at your organisation or part of the senior management team providing direction to the admissions and marketing team, the sense of being overwhelmed at the scale of the task in hand is a common one. Layer on top of this the massive upheaval and uncertainty that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented, and there has never been a more important time to take a good look at the health of your marketing function. Do you have the right skills in your department? Is your budget being spent in the right way? Are your goals and expectations realistic?

There’s always the next great marketing idea – blogging, email, Instagram, Pinterest, pod-casts, articles, Facebook ads, video marketing and so on – and the danger is that you jump from one to another, never really giving it the time or the budget to see if it actually works.

Doing a little of everything makes you a master of nothing and you simply will not get the results.

In general, 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts: do what you know works and you will get more bang for your buck.

So focus – crystallise your vision and set clear goals that all your stakeholders have bought into.

When setting these goals, the key questions to ask are:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?

If you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, no road will ever get you there.

Data analysis, desk research and parent and pupil surveys will help you to answer the first question.

Consultation with stakeholders, an analysis of the potential market, exploration of opportunities and a review of current activity and procedures will certainly assist with the second.

This important background work will help you to make decisions, reduce risk, catalyse change, demonstrate that you listen to your parent body and care about their needs and concerns, enable you to measure progress, sustain competitor advantage and silence the critics. With so many balls to juggle and time management one our greatest challenges, this may involve asking for help.

Once you have established where you are now and where you want to be, ask yourself:

  • How will we get there?

There are countless marketing strategies that might work but you simply will not have the time, budget and expertise to do them all.

Be realistic and focus on marketing activities that will have the greatest impact and where you have had prior success. Make sure that they can be delivered using the skills sets in your team – you will save time and energy.

A marketing plan keeps you and your team on track. In a busy school environment where there is so much to promote, it helps you to streamline what you do and communicate why you are doing it.

Focus on strategies that help you to reach your goals – don’t just do what everyone else is doing. My advice would be to start small and build.

Your school does not exist in a bubble. Asking for help to benchmark your organisation- assessing its performance within a regional and nation context is crucial. Access to national data, competitor rolls, recruitment patterns, demographic predictions and market trends can inform your goals and your strategies and, importantly, remove any bias or supposition.

Excellent marketers are those who constantly ask questions.

By asking questions you can improve your parent experience, measure your brand impression, stay ahead of your competitors, track your performance and target your marketing efforts (restricted of course by time, expertise and budget).

Help is available to find the answers, so make use of it. As a result, you will be able to manage your time better, and focus your efforts more effectively and successfully.