We know how hard education marketers work, so if we are able to pass on some wisdom and practical advice and tips to make life a little more straightforward then we are happy to do so!

If there is a particular topic you would like to see covered on this page, please  let us know and we will find a suitable expert to share their knowledge.

goalKicking goals – the truth about KPIs

How do you set realistic goals for your business and make sure you reach them? We put MTM’s Head of Business Development Daniel Cohen on the spot.

KPI – three magic letters that can make the difference between success and failure for a business. Key Performance Indicators are how most businesses measure the achievement of their staff and keep their business bank accounts in the black. Used effectively, they are the backbone of a strategy that leads to success; so why do so many businesses set KPIs that are arbitrary, ill thought-out and lead their staff to the Career Opportunities page of their competitor’s website?

The secret is to set KPIs that are actually realistic – for your organisation and for your colleagues – put in place a strategy, and measure its effectiveness as your organisation heads towards achieving its aims.

As with nearly every factor that contributes to success in business, it comes down to understanding your organisation’s market, as well as your organisation’s position in the market and how your organisation came to be in that position. This is information that needs to be understood by the people setting the target – the KPI – as well as the people expected to hit the target. This is an aspect often over-looked by the KPI setters of this world – clear communication unsurprisingly is important, but unfortunately quite often lacking (another article for another day).

Of course, it’s all very well having big goals and fluffy statements of intent, but are they achievable and, if so, how are you going to make them happen? Is it realistic that your school could add an extra hundred pupils by next September, and be the leading Independent school in the area? Maybe it is – then it’s time to put in place KPIs that will let you know when you’re on the way to hitting your target.

Planning your KPIs may go something like this:

  • What’s the desired outcome? A hundred extra pupils on roll by next September (you will want to specify the sections of the school or year groups)
  • Why? To improve the school’s profitability
  • How will we measure progress? We’ll analyse admissions enquiries and conversion rates
  • What will influence the outcome? A solid marketing strategy – communicating effectively with the target market and a robust admissions process to convert enquiries to acceptances
  • Who’s responsible for this outcome? Senior Leadership, Admissions and Marketing teams
  • How will we know when our outcome is achieved? One hundred additional students added to the roll for the next academic year
  • How will we keep track of progress towards our goal? Monthly analysis of admissions data and adjustment of marketing and communications strategy (and possibly budget) to suit

This is simplistic of course, but there is a thought-process behind all successful KPI setting. Get it right and a winning strategy will be formed around it.

To get the ball rolling, MTM can help you find out more about your organisation’s market and its position within it, as well as how it came to be there and where it could realistically be in the future. Our business experts can even assist you as you set your KPIs, put in place a workable marketing and business strategy and measure your progress as your organisation heads towards kicking those goals.

Ask the question

‘Excellent marketers are those who constantly ask questions,’ says MTM’s Head of Marketing Strategy Sophie Braybrooke. Here she advises on the questions marketers need to ask and when to seek help to find the answers…

Whether you are the person responsible for marketing at your school or part of the senior management team providing direction to the admissions and marketing team, the sense of being overwhelmed at the scale of the task in hand is a common one. Layer on top of this the massive upheaval and uncertainty that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented, and there has never been a more important time to take a good look at the health of your marketing function. Do you have the right skills in your department? Is your budget being spent in the right way? Are your goals and expectations realistic?

There’s always the next great marketing idea – blogging, email, Instagram, Pinterest, pod-casts, articles, Facebook ads, video marketing and so on – and the danger is that you jump from one to another, never really giving it the time or the budget to see if it actually works.

Doing a little of everything makes you a master of nothing and you simply will not get the results.

In general, 80% of results come from 20% of your efforts: do what you know works and you will get more bang for your buck.

So focus – crystallise your vision and set clear goals that all your stakeholders have bought into.

When setting these goals, the key questions to ask are:

  • Where are we now? 
  • Where do we want to be?   

If you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, no road will ever get you there.

Data analysis, desk research and parent and pupil surveys will help you to answer the first question.

Consultation with stakeholders, an analysis of the potential market, exploration of opportunities and a review of current activity and procedures will certainly assist with the second.

This important background work will help you to make decisions, reduce risk, catalyse change, demonstrate that you listen to your parent body and care about their needs and concerns, enable you to measure progress, sustain competitor advantage and silence the critics.   With so many balls to juggle and time management one our greatest challenges, this may involve asking for help.

Once you have established where you are now and where you want to be,  ask yourself:

  • How will we get there?  

There are countless marketing strategies that might work but you simply will not have the time, budget and expertise to do them all.

Be realistic and focus on marketing activities that will have the greatest impact and where you have had prior success. Make sure that they  can be delivered using the skills sets in your team –  you will save time and energy.

marketing plan keeps you and your team on track. In a busy school environment where there is so much to promote, it helps you to streamline what you do and communicate why you are doing it.

Focus on strategies that help you to reach your goals – don’t just do what everyone else is doing. My advice would be to start small and build.

Your school does not exist in a bubble. Asking for help to benchmark your school – assessing its performance within a regional and nation context is crucial. Access to national data, competitor rolls, recruitment patterns, demographic predictions and market trends can inform your goals and your strategies and, importantly, remove any bias or supposition.

Excellent marketers are those who constantly ask questions.

By asking questions you can improve your parent experience, measure your brand impression, stay ahead of your competitors, track your performance and target your marketing efforts (restricted of course by time, expertise and budget).

Help is available to find the answers, so make use of it. As a result, you will be able to manage your time better, and focus your efforts more effectively and successfully.

For a FREE marketing health check and initial discussion, please contact Sophie Braybrooke by emailing sophie@mtmconsulting.com, or calling 07747 012533.

How to brief a designer

Whether it’s a prospectus, a website or perhaps just an invitation to an open day, the look of your marketing materials gives an all-important first impression. Unless you’re lucky enough to have an artist in your marketing team, you’ll probably need to commission a specialist, but how do you brief a designer to make sure the finished product does your organisation credit?

Design work is pricey and can quickly swallow up a chunk of your marketing budget. It also takes time to collate the content of a website or a publication – many hours go into writing copy, arranging photography and thinking about the structure and tone of your organisation’s marketing materials. So, it is well worth doing all you can to make sure your designer is on your wavelength from the start and can present you with an end product that does your organisation proud.

Although you’ll want to give your designer plenty of information to go on, it’s important to stop short of describing a design you have in mind yourself. Designing materials – whether printed or electronic – is all about team-working, and coming up with a design concept that suits you and your organisation is usually the result of a collaborative process.

The idea is that you present your designer with the background to the project, your hopes and dreams for it, and then let the professional do the rest. A good designer will be able to translate your brief into the design you didn’t know you wanted.

What to include:

Your brand: Your designer will want to understand the character of your organisation, what it stands for and who it’s aimed at. You’ll need to explain your market and the messages you’re aiming to convey through every aspect of your communications with the outside world, including the current project.

Your current style: Prepare a pack for your designer, including your existing printed materials, and send links to any online branded communications, such as your organisation’s website or e-newsletter. Make sure your designer has your brand guidelines, including colours, fonts and any other design requirements and explain to your designer how important it is to stick to them!

Style departure: If you are looking to graduate from your previous design style, let your designer how far you are willing to digress, including making clear any aspects that are non-negotiable and why. It’s often worth squirrelling away a few examples of design work you admire which you can pass to your designer for inspiration.

Project planning: Your designer will need to know the timescale, deliverables and budget – and if there is any wiggle room.

Regular assessment: Agree a timeline with built-in opportunities for assessment – that way, if the design or project is veering off-piste it won’t take too much work or time to get it back on track.

Roles: It’s important to be clear about the designer’s responsibilities and those of you and your team. If your colleagues are to be involved in providing any part of the project – written content or photography, for example – make sure they are also involved in discussions with the designer.

Objectives: Tell your designer what you want this project to achieve. Remember that objectives can be emotional as well as practical – how do you want people to feel when they see or experienced this piece of design work? And what do you want to encourage them to do next?

If you put time and thought into planning the brief for your designer, your project should run smoothly and result in a piece of design work that is admired by your target market and envied by your competitors!