Unlocking your school’s value: a practical framework

There is a lot happening in the modern school marketing landscape. It seems that every time you open a new browser tab there is a new tool or app that is going to ‘make your life easier’ and solve your enrolment problems. Of course, it’s not real. School communications and marketing are getting more complex, not easier.

We must not become so engrossed with the tools and processes we use to communicate that we forget what we’re trying to communicate. Value.

Our real measure of success is what our communication and marketing efforts achieve. At the heart of all our messaging must be differentiating and substantiating the value of our offering to families who trust us with their child.

In education, the value derived by a family often is not immediately visible or tangible. The value you deliver is measured mostly through parent perceptions. Can you demonstrate that the value you are offering significantly enriches the lives — current and future — of the families who choose to invest in it? Understanding and effectively communicating this value is a foundational element to all your marketing efforts.

In this value framework there are four key pillars that must always be viewed and answered from the parent’s perspective.

Pillar 1: Prove tangible and intangible Return on Investment (ROI)

Are we making a difference?

When parents entrust their children’s education to us, they are making a significant investment. Naturally, they anticipate a tangible return on investment — academic accomplishments and ATAR.

However, the intangible outcomes are equally, if not more, important. The development of a student’s character attributes such as resilience, emotional intelligence, character, leadership abilities, creativity and global awareness often contribute significantly to their future success.

Your responsibility is to provide clear evidence of these outcomes. This could be in the form of alumni testimonials or parent feedback, highlighting both the academic and personal growth of students. It’s imperative to demonstrate that your curriculum and co-curricular activities are intentionally designed to foster these outcomes. After all, your mandate goes beyond education; you are shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

Pillar 2: Prove you provide transformational teaching and learning

Are we at the forefront?

Education is no longer measured by parents as knowledge acquisition alone. Your challenge is to provide evidence of a whole-of-school commitment to transformative education.

Does our curriculum reflect the latest educational research and best practices? Do our teachers consistently upgrade their skills to ensure they deliver the best learning experiences? Is our learning environment nurturing curiosity and creativity while fostering problem-solving abilities?

Your goal should be for parents to see you deliver more than just keeping pace with educational advancements. Most of the advancements you make will be invisible to parents. Once you have made an advancement, take the time to carefully communicate it to your current and prospective parents and substantiate the trust they have placed in you.

Pillar 3: Prove a customer-focused orientation

Are we fostering connections?

Your school’s value proposition isn’t confined to educational excellence. It’s also about creating an environment where each student feels acknowledged and appreciated. Parents are your customers, students are beneficiaries. Fortunately, parents want you to focus on their children. Are you cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and genuine connection among students, teachers and parents?

What is happening in the lives of your parents? This means convenience matters too. Parents appreciate efficiency in your communication channels, meetings and administrative processes. Does your school act as a community hub, offering opportunities for families to connect beyond the classroom?

Evidence of our customer-focused approach is found in lived experiences. Sharing testimonials, success stories and community engagement initiatives can serve as the perfect testament to our commitment to prioritising our community.

Pillar 4: Prove cost-consciousness and stewardship

Are we wise stewards of resources?

In an era of escalating educational expenses, demonstrating financial responsibility is key. Your families need assurance that their investment is being effectively managed and purposefully allocated to further your mission (Note: your parents’ perspective is that your mission is their child).

How well does our budget reflect our mission statement? Is every financial decision contributing directly to student experiences, infrastructure and staff excellence? Are we innovating to create cost-efficient yet high-quality learning experiences?

By manifesting cost-consciousness and responsible stewardship, we reassure families that the value they receive significantly outweighs their investment, creating a compelling value proposition for your school.

Never forget: Your school’s value is defined by your families’ perceptions, not yours

Parents are not looking for grand promises; they want provable answers. They want to understand what benefits their children stand to gain from attending your school. They seek something new, unique and significant. They want to understand the ethos of the community you’re cultivating, the kind of students you’re shaping and why this should matter to them.

In each communication you, as Head and as the leader of marketing, must address their implicit question: “Why should this matter to me, my student and my family?”

Andrew Sculthorpe aka Scully, is the Managing Partner of imageseven. With a wealth of experience gained in both the UK and Australia, he is perfectly positioned to deliver insights that create a world-class impact for schools and their Heads.

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