International schools are facing a tough time on how they can attract pupils to their school and are looking at several different strategies to make themselves stand out in the competitive market. Most of the schools headteachers are now preparing school entry plans pinpointing the common challenges in school in order to address them, making their school marketable.
However, lots of international schools are getting their methods spot on because it is very evident with so many schools having to put pupils on rather long waiting lists due to the popularity and effective ways of marketing an international school.
So, what are the best ways to attract students to an international school and how important is a marketing strategy to international schools?
What are international schools?
International schools are incredibly popular and are situated across the entire world. It is believed that international schools are able to offer some of the best education available and that studying at an international school is the best setting for children to start off their careers in education.
In the United Kingdom, there are over 500 boarding schools. An International boarding school is a great way for students to interact with the culture of the country, expand their horizons and be able to have access to a great education with schools using schemes such as the International Baccalaureate and the IGCSE exams.
In many schools across the United Kingdom, they are able to offer international students a much more inclusive approach to education by allowing them to study in their native language with teachers who are trained to differentiate with students who have English as Additional Language (EAL).
Not only are international schools available in the United Kingdom but they are worldwide. For example, in Bangkok alone there are 80 readily available international schools. This shows the need and want for international schools, which can be a blessing and a curse for the schools (in particular their marketing department).
What are the marketing strategies for schools?
With the market ever competitive and the competition growing each year, what is a marketing strategy for international schools? These can range from making sure searches online are targeted to printed magazines or prospectuses being personalised to the consumers needs.
Advertising is obviously one of the key marketing strategies for international schools. Although parents downplay their recall for adverts being the decision, they chose the school, they are not aware they are being targeted by the school marketing team.
With many schools using a pay per click advertising agency to help promote the school on search engine websites, parents are constantly shown the school as a priority due to their previous searches.
The use of images alongside advertising is a vital strategy. Including images on aspects such as the school website, the school search on search engines and social media pages such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can make the school appear professional, well run, and more importantly can be used as an important visual aid for parents.
For example, if parents can see pupils at the school enjoying themselves, they are able to conjure up images of their own child having the same experience.
One strategy that has taken some traction in recent years is transparency of the school. Like most businesses, consumers are interested in knowing certain aspects of a company like social activities, CSR programmes, environmental footprint, and teaching staff diversity.
If a school can supply this information, it is proven 88-90% or consumers are more likely to trust the company and stay loyal to them.
How can you get yourself noticed?
It has been discovered that the best way of getting noticed is using videos either online or using digital channels on television. As was evident before the pandemic, 73% of advertising was used on digital channels as schools looked to get themselves known throughout the country.
However, since the pandemic schools have now increased their use of digital media due to restrictions in place nationally and internationally.
Schools are looking to use videos that revolve around updates from the Headmaster/mistress, virtual open day videos and promotional videos. Digital media and video marketing is leading marketing strategies for international schools.
These strategies are incredibly useful because it is showing how the school is personalised and how they are able to show parents how they can meet the needs of their child. For example, 40% of parents want to see STEM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics as a grouping) being taught more.
So if the marketing team are informed of this (or a survey conducted by the school wanting to know what parents want), they are able to personalise the promotional videos towards prospective parents.
Despite the competitive nature of international schools, there are still many options and different strategies to help the international school be successful.
With the global pandemic affecting the money aspect of prospective parents, it is important it makes the marketing as personal as they can because it goes an awful long way.