How to manage school marketers

A guide for school Heads

Being a school communications and marketing professional is a frustrating job. How many other jobs are there where your professional skill represents perhaps just one percent — maybe less — of the workplace?

Even more challenging is that your boss rarely has any professional training or experience in your field, and yet is the sole arbiter of your performance in your role.

But what can you — the school Head — do about it?

You have probably followed the traditional path to the role of Head and now find yourself managing a sole marketer. Or, if you’re fortunate, a small team of marketers. Even if you have a marketing background, the field is changing so fast, it’s like counting time in dog years.

Managing marketers is not like managing teachers. Don’t misunderstand me. Good people management principles will always apply; however, marketers are different. Not dramatically different, but certainly different enough that adjusting your management style can have a profound effect.

Nurturing talent and achieving results at the same time can be quite a juggling act. However, by focusing on three key competencies, the results will flow along with the professional development of the marketing team. These three areas are:

  • creating the new and different
  • focusing on actions and outcomes
  • inspiring others.

The challenge is for school Heads to raise the bar in this field to find the best people and then get the best out of them. Here is a seven step guide to effectively manage your marketing team to achieve your school’s objectives.

  1. Communicate major goals but individualise them for each marketer. Illustrate how their individual achievements will help the school as a whole. Then identify their unique behaviour or value traits to motivate them to accomplish those goals in their own way. This will provide the psychological incentive for them to perform.
  2. Share examples of how their skill sets will help them accomplish the goals and then praise them in meetings when goals are accomplished. This reinforces the value you place on their individual capability, which a marketer values above all else. Why? Because it positions that individual marketer as someone with unique values and establishes their credibility with other team members. This is particularly important for school marketers where most of their co-workers do not understand or value their role.
  3. Don’t micromanage your school marketer. One common trait of marketers is that they enjoy making their own decisions and having the freedom to create and achieve their goals their way. Don’t stifle initiative. Give them the freedom to make mistakes so they will learn and develop competency more rapidly.
  4. Address issues and perceived problems immediately. Marketers see themselves as problem solvers, leading the pack in ways others cannot. If you do not develop an atmosphere of openness and willingness, you are not addressing a key element of the marketer’s personality — communication. Marketers are more communicative than the average person — talk to them and let them talk.
  5. Communicate how you want them to succeed and how they can advance or gain a promotion. Marketers pride themselves on vision and success. When a manager does not provide a career path or vision of what success looks like, it is only a matter of time before your marketer will find them somewhere else.
  6. Look to develop a team spirit. Marketers are independent by nature, especially those specialists who are highly analytical and objective. Help each member create their own identity, show them how that identity helps make up a dynamic school team and allow them to shine.
  7. Be consistent and fair. While each marketer is unique, be consistent in the way you deal with departmental and individual issues. Praise publicly and reprimand privately. Use your knowledge of their individual dynamics to achieve the best results. Understand their motivations and strengths, and use them to the maximum effect.

School communications and marketing — in fact, all forms of marketing — rely on individuals possessing and exercising a level of creative thinking. The best outcomes are achieved by people who are inspired by the vision you cast and a commitment to bring it to life. It is your job as school Head to clearly develop a vision of your preferred future, then ensure that your school marketer understands it and can communicate it as well, if not better, than you.

Without your vision to motivate them, it is difficult for your marketers to drive school marketing that effectively communicates your competitive advantage and answers the single most important question of prospective parents: “why should I trust my child to your school?”

When brought together, these three core competencies — creating the new and different, focusing on action and outcomes, and inspiring others — are the secrets to successfully leading school marketers. When you — as school Head and marketing leader — master these competencies, you dramatically increase the likelihood of your school marketer’s success and, as a direct result, the success of your school.

insight applied

  • Managing marketers is not like managing teachers.
  • Heads can focus on three key competencies to manage school marketers.
  • The best outcomes are achieved by people who are inspired by the vision you cast.
Brad Entwistle is the Founding Partner of imageseven. Since 1990, he has led his team on a mission to amplify the impact of schools by working directly with school Heads, tailoring solutions to maximise their communication and marketing effectiveness.

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