It’s not easy running a marketing department or being part of a marketing team in a school. Your wonderful ideas or creative vision, which you might have spent hours crafting, don’t always get the reception that you anticipated, or the Principal and her deputy repeatedly fail to turn up to your scheduled marketing meetings because something “came up”. You’re not alone in your frustrations. It is completely understandable that you sometimes just want to withdraw from any interactions with the academic department altogether. But the fact of the matter is, if any two teams needed each other most, it would be the academic and marketing teams.
Like it or not, successful schools have marketing managers and academic managers whose work dovetail, reciprocating and valuing the work of the other.
Teams with unified goals and objectives
Let’s take Open Days as an example. Should these be led by the marketing and admissions team or directed by the academic managers? Some of the best Open Days that I have seen gather the joint efforts of the two. Whilst marketing and admissions might develop the theme, drive the publicity campaign and ensure that attending families receive an unforgettable customer service experience, it is the academic managers who must get involved in the running of “show”. The Principal or her Deputy should be rallying the troops and ensuring that every classroom as well as teacher is presentable and be ready with informative displays.
An Open Day can be a huge success when the two teams work in tandem, unified in their objectives and both are clear about their responsibilities.
The school website is another good example to glean from. Is it largely a marketing and admissions responsibility or a joint effort? Despite the fact that marketing staff may know exactly which photographs to use for the homepage, or how to create the best call-to-action on a landing page, the meat of the website should be contributed by academic staff. News, curriculum pages, for example, should be generated by academic managers (and then of course heavily edited by marketing to sound more customer-oriented and friendly!).
Successful schools recognise the ecosystem that exists in which these different departments inter-depend.
Fostering a better relationship between the marketing and academic teams
So how can you foster a greater relationship between your marketing and the academic teams. Here are my top tips:
1. Be proactive and invite as many members of the academic team to your scheduled marketing meetings. It doesn’t matter if they didn’t show u up to the last one. Be persistent. Send them the minutes and agenda. Show them that you’re serious about the publicity of the school and don’t just do pretty flyers! The more you involve academic staff, the better the dialogue between the two teams and the better you can be at supporting each other.
2. Invite yourself to their staff meetings to talk about things like the YearBook or a particular event that’s coming up- for instance. This helps to raise your profile and, again, your work to be taken more seriously. The more academic staff know about what marketing does and the strategic nature of the job, they are more likely to support your work. Marketing then becomes a much easier task and will undoubtedly achieve more!
3. Get into the classroom. Show the academic team that you don’t work in silo! Ask for permission to get in the classroom a) to observe the teaching and learning so you can explain what students do much better to prospective families and b) to take photos of activities that show students engaged and productive, then post them on the school’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages – oooh that will really win you brownie points!
Whatever you do, collaborating with the academic team is a must
The most effective marketing plans are those done in close collaboration with the academic teams. Despite being one that is not so easy to initiate, once you have built up that inter-team relationship, sit back and enjoy watching your marketing ROI soar.
Feel free to drop me a line if you need more practical tips!