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School Marketing Blog

The professional school marketing manager needs to be up-to-date with the latest school marketing strategies and resources to successfully implement the school marketing plan. This school marketing blog enables school marketing professionals to engage in blog discussions relating to the school marketing issues of today. The 'School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed)', 2011, by Bryan Foster, forms the basis for most of these blog posts.

Word of Mouth - #1 Marketing Strategy

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Bryan Foster

Word of Mouth - #1 Strategy to Market Schools

Let's keep marketing simple. From my experience there are a number of classic and contemporary methods to market your school. These should be at the forefront of any successful school marketing plan. A number of these are free or relatively inexpensive. The number 1 method though is ‘Word of Mouth’ is free!

School and Wider Community Support Needed

Now this may seem quite obvious and simple to many, that the number one strategy in a school marketing plan is word of mouth, unfortunately it can be anything but that. Word of mouth requires the great majority of people to be speaking positively about your school. This not only includes those directly in the school community e.g. staff, students and parents, but also those in the wider community who may influence those within and without of the school community. This would include: grandparents of students within the school, others directly associated with the school e.g. suppliers of school goods, professionals e.g. those charged with the finance guidance and auditing, architects and engineers of the building plan, people on the school parents and friends / citizens association and the school board, past students association, etc.

Hence, these people need to be fully informed and communicated with, concerning all the events and happenings within the school. This includes the positive and the negative.

Negative News Can Become Positive News

Why the negative you may ask? If the school is run effectively it will have policies and procedures to deal with most, if not all, circumstances it may face. When people within and without the school see that the school is dealing with those negative aspects in a professional, caring and effective way, they will more than likely support the school. For many of these people they will go much further and espouse how wonderful the school is in the way that it deals with negative issues. This can be a very effective method, overall.


Once this strategy is accepted as the primary means to market a school, it then becomes evident that the next challenge is to select numerous forms of communication and a number of strategies, which are going to be needed for the ‘word of mouth’ strategy to be fully informed and hence, successful. 

The 'The Number One Strategy of School Marketing - Word of Mouth' blog post was written by Bryan Foster, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed), (2011) - the paperback and ebook manual for school communications and marketing personnel - 340 pages of easy to read and implement summarized points - allowing for a considerably large number of quality strategies and examples to be detailed - with copyright remaining GDPL. Book available from and and all good internet stores.

Top 10 Free or Inexpensive School Marketing Strategies

Friday, October 28, 2016

Free or InexpensiveMarketing Strategies

A successful school marketing plan and budget will need to incorporate most of the top ten free or inexpensive school marketing strategies if it is to be successful.

By effectively using the media and the school website, there should be little expense activating these top 10 strategies, especially when the digital option is the primary method used, instead of hardcopies. If it can assumed that the school has a website, which can be managed by the school, as well as a school signboard and a good digital camera, then these strategies can be implemented for free or little expense.

The first strategy is in itself free, yet is also reliant upon a number of other key strategies to be implemented successfully – ‘Word of Mouth’.

Top 10 Free School Marketing Strategies

1.    Word of Mouth - School's Reputation
2.    Quality Teaching and Opportunities for Students – Curricula and Extra Curricula Activities
3.    Professionalism of staff in action and appearance
4.    School Website
5.    Social Networking Sites e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc
6.    Use of the Media - both traditional and contemporary – including editorial, images  and advertising
7.    Information Sessions - night and day times – including observation of the school in action (a transparent approach), parent nights, entertainment by students, school boards and parent associations, open days, etc.
8.    Newsletters and Flyers - digital (and hardcopy where needed)
9.    Front Signboard
10.  Cross Information (within the region’s schools or parish)

The number 1 strategy, ‘Word of Mouth’, is dependent on those espousing various views about the school being well informed. To do this, the next 9 strategies have an important role to play.

The school needs:

•    to have a high quality curriculum, 
•    an easy to use professional website, 
•    the ability to engage the local media so that the good stories are told to the whole community, and even the negative stories being told with the school’s professional approach for solutions being seen in a positive light, 
•    openness to various visits to the school and 
•    the acceptance of the place of the digital flyers and newsletters

•    acknowledgement of the place of social media in today’s digital world.


Free key strategies are often the best approaches to marketing your school. When the school has set up a professional website and the school community has a positive attitude toward the school and what it offers, along with what the digital age can offer, then a free, or relatively inexpensive, school marketing plan is possible. This approach can also work when the attitude of the community is not as high – however, there may need to be a need for various forms of paid advertising to counteract such negativity. The best school marketing plan would incorporate most of the free top 10 strategies for marketing your school.

The 'Top 10 School Marketing Strategies - Free or Inexpensive' blog post was written by Bryan Foster, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed), (2011) - the paperback and ebook manual for school communications and marketing personnel - 340 pages of easy to read and implement summarized points - allowing for a considerably large number of quality strategies and examples to be detailed - with copyright remaining GDPL. Book available from and and all good Internet stores.

School Marketing Plan Evaluation - at least once a year

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The School Marketing Plan (SMP) needs to be evaluated at least once a year - often at the end of each year. If this hasn't been done yet, could I strongly suggest you do it now!


Representatives from the Key Stakeholders groups within the school need to give input. 

These people would include:

•   Principal and Leadership Team
•   School Manager
•   Parish Priest
•   Staff (as decided in consultation with Principal)
•   Parent representatives
•   Student Leaders
•   Feeder School Principals and Leadership Teams 
•   Media Representatives (usually media contacts of yours and advertising consultants you dealt with, as needed)
•   Systemic representatives as needed

Survey and Feedback

Feedback quantity and quality will vary. 

Requested replies would be from both specific and general groups, for example, you may target specific groups of Parents e.g. School Board, but also invite interested Parents through the schools’ newsletters / e-newsletters / e-flyers to respond.

A simple questionnaire sent to these people asking three questions will often give enough detail for a fair appraisal and follow-up discussion with the school leadership team and School Marketing Manager.

You may be inclined to do this through an online survey. (See 'Surveys' section of this chapter in the school marketing manual for examples.)

The questions could be:

•   The SMP for [School Name] for this year was successful in what ways?
•   The SMP for [School Name] for this year was lacking in what ways?
•   How would you suggest the SMP for [School Name] be adjusted for next year?
•   Other comments

The SMM would then summarize these responses in an honest way and present the views to the School’s Leadership Team. 

It is also good to include specific examples from each question from key people e.g. 

•   a feeder school Principal may be the only one who is aware of issues regarding visitations or school involvement in his / her school 
•   a feeder school secretary may be the only one aware of specific  parental / staff issues she hears espoused in her main office; 

It is important that this isn’t lost in the summary.

Others may like to develop a survey which ranks specific statements about the SMP from 5 to 1. The number of statements in the survey would need to be minimal to gain a good percentage of replies.

This type of survey would more than likely achieve a greater number of responses, yet the detail is limited. You may like to try a greater number of statements for groups or individuals you feel are more likely to respond. 

You may also like to include a section for written responses to questions similar to the above three.

SMM Support

It is important that the SMM is supported by all groups to continue on the successful way or make various changes to improve.

Most common changes are made each year in the approach and / or 
forms of marketing used in each subsequent year.

This is normal and leads to a more successful SMP each year.

The ' School Marketing Plan Updated for the New Year' blog post is based on chapters 'School Marketing Plan Evaluation' and 'School Marketing Plan (SMP)' was written by Bryan Foster, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed), 2011

 - written in summarized point form containing an exceptional number of strategies and step-by-step guidance on how to market your school, with copyright remaining with Great Development Publishers. Available from Amazon and all good internet stores.

School Marketing Surveys

Friday, October 21, 2016
Surveys are often a good way to discover the views and needs of various stakeholders and of prospective parents and students.

Aims and Sample Questions

If the surveyed group believes that they will be listened to, and that the survey isn’t an onerous one, then a greater percentage of quality responses will occur.

Simple questions will often elicit the best results. Sample questions might be:

• What do you like best about (name) school?
• What improvements could be made?
• Other suggestions?

Other more explicit questions could be asked, and depending on the audience, may be of benefit, however, in most cases it is best to KIS (Keep It Simple).

Feeder Schools

Surveying the various feeder schools of a particular school should point the school in the right direction. The views of staff, parents and students of the schools are an invaluable aid as to how the school is perceived and of areas needing improvement.

Students, Staff and Parents

Students in Years 4/5-6/7 would be another good target group for this type of survey.

Staff and parents from your school could be surveyed on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the school. Negative responses should be explained. Once again KIS would apply.

Discussion Groups

Following the survey, or in addition to the survey, Discussion Groups are often beneficial. Key stakeholders form the group/s.

Select an experienced facilitator / chairperson.

Be open to frank discussion.

Be accommodating and respectful.

You will most likely need to make it clear that you are open to considering all views but the final decisions rest with the School Principal.

Varied responses will be inevitable.

It is the School Principal’s and School Marketing Manager’s role to rank order responses and take on board
those which are relevant and practical.

Survey vs. School Marketing Plan (SMP) Evaluation

These surveys are in addition to the SMP Evaluation. The survey is concentrating on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the school itself.

  • The SMP Evaluation is evaluating the school’s marketing plan for that year.
  • The surveys are held as needed.
  • The SMP Evaluation is best conducted at the same time of the any year. This may be midyear and away from the major school or sacramental events.

Online Surveys - Weblinks

An approach developing quite quickly these days is the online survey, which often has a free option.

There are a number of internet companies offering various surveys. An internet search of ‘online survey tools’ will gain a number of options to explore. Two examples are ‘polldaddy’ and ‘SurveyMonkey’.

Remember to read their Terms and Conditions fully before proceeding with usage!

An email from SurveyMonkey outlines their approach for both free and fee accounts. 

Get started by checking out our online tutorials to learn how to use SurveyMonkey.

 The 'School Marketing Survey' blog post was written by Bryan Foster, author of School Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (3rd ed), (2011) - the paperback and ebook manual for school communications and marketing personnel - 340 pages of easy to read and implement summarized points - allowing for a considerably large number of quality strategies and examples to be detailed - with copyright remaining GreatDevelopment Publishers. Book available from and and all good internet stores.

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