School marketing staff must adapt to changing times and use digital technology to personalise their communications with prospective parents, the AMCIS conference has heard.
Steve Spriggs, managing director of William Clarence Education, told the gathering of school marketing and communications experts that parental buying behaviour and expectations had changed considerably since Covid, and schools were having to change their approach.
Spriggs outlined the state of the UK independent schools market, which has been rocked by Brexit, Covid, issues around rising fees, and changes to birth rates.
Spriggs said: “Products and services, research and information are now available with total ease and instant access. This has put the power in the buyers’ hands and also, this has spilled over into parental expectations when researching schools. There is a more discerning parent base – they know the value of their wallet.
“Parents now require a premium customer experience, one that is laser-focused on their child”.
His presentation also talked about how to reimagine marketing and admissions to take account of these changes and how to relate to parents, particularly digitally.
“Your digital footprint is becoming more important than your real one,” said Spriggs.
“You are already fantastic at delivering a personalised customer experience when having a 1-2-1 interaction with a prospect. Yet, the follow up can often be quite generic like a link to the website or a standard prospectus, which is disappointing and jarring.
“It looks lovely and corporate but it doesn’t really cut through any noise and tell me what life would be like for my family there.”
He stressed the importance of video, user generated content, the value of hybrid events and how to personalise your digital prospectus.
“More authentic content will allow you to give a better, more personalised, more memorable experience of your school as it helps to capture the school’s real ethos and culture,” said Spriggs.