Leading marketing

School Heads and school marketers have an obligation to be jointly successful. But how can a school Head lead their marketing team?

You must become an expert in leading school marketing. Of course, this is very different to leading the other parts of your school. Leading school marketing isn’t only about attracting new enrolments. It is also about increasing and using your knowledge and influence inside your school to improve the end–to–end customer experience. It is about mobilising your Board, your leadership team, your staff and yourself to maximise the overlap between the needs of your current and prospective parents and the needs of your school to prosper. (See Work in the value zone.)

The leadership skills needed in school marketing differ significantly from those needed by leaders in other functions within your school. That’s because marketing has to bridge three distinct gaps that are very wide in school marketing:

  • A trust gap. Most of the work of school marketing is about the future (for example, projected student enrolment). So your Board and colleagues will always, to a degree, doubt what you say.
  • A power gap. Creating a great parent and student experience involves many people in your school. Many of those people may consider that their duties as an educator do not overlap with the business of attracting prospective families to place your school within their consideration set. Some will probably even be volunteers. Therefore, most of the people you need to create your outstanding ‘customer experience’ are not in natural alignment. You have to lead through influence rather than power.
  • A skills gap. Marketing technology is changing almost monthly. This means that you will never know as much as you need to know. That skills gap is not your fault — it is a major challenge that every marketer (in schools or in any other organisation) faces.

You were not born as a fully formed leader of school marketing. You must become one. Studies have found that personality matters very little when it comes to the success of a leader of marketing. Almost everyone can learn the critical marketing leadership behaviours.

This is a great time for leaders of marketing to change course and take things into their own hands. Concentrate on what you can change — and that’s more than you think. In a marketing environment that is dominated by the impact of the pandemic, don’t wait until it is too late. Now is the time for you to take charge and lead your school’s marketing. 

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. imageseven.com.au 

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