Client A was an independent school operating from three different sites within one town in the Home Counties. The school was struggling with a small sixth form, mediocre academic success and a limited surplus. In an effort to transform the school’s situation, a new head was appointed, the sixth-form was closed, the three sites sold and the children combined in a mansion that was purchased three miles away.
The school came to MTM for help with recruiting pupils, changing perceptions and achieving a stronger balance sheet and healthier surplus.
- ‘Mandarin’ research to identify location, characteristics and size of the school’s target market
- Created a new corporate identity for the school to tie in with target families’ expectations, traits and lifestyle
- Managed advertising campaigns, using Mandarin research to identify press titles with high penetration in geographical areas with strong numbers of potential pupils
- Designed, printed and distributed cost-effective targeted direct mail leaflets using the research to identify up to 80,000 households with the highest concentration of target families within practical commute distances
- MTM has managed the school’s marketing during the turnaround period
- Within 18 months of the campaign detailed above the school’s pupil numbers had increased by 28%
- Pupil numbers are now more than double the original level
- The school has sought consultancy services from MTM to help set up a new nursery building, arts centre and sports hall
- The school is now thought of as school of choice within the region
Client B is an independent girls’ school for 3-16 year old pupils in the East of England. At the end of 2007 the school contacted MTM to ask for our guidance. The school had capacity for 300 pupils which had been falling steadily to 220 when they contacted MTM.
The school’s governors and senior managers contacted MTM to seek assistance with a strategic review and guidance with the school’s direction.
- Mandarin research to identify the size and location of the school’s potential market, compared against current buyers
- Reviews of projected population change within the coming years
- Analysis of transport routes and provision from competitors
- Interviews with staff, governors and current parents to assess perception of the school
- Analysis of the school’s academic merits and weaknesses
- Advised and facilitated recruitment of a new head, rebrand and an overhaul of marketing activities
- Identified new transport routes for the school to provide transport for and carried out feasibility studies in order to set up a school minibus on these routes
- Provided retained PR support for school promotion and potential crisis management
- The school made an informed decision to remain open and resist acquisition
- Attendance at most recent Open Day increased by XX% on previous year
- New head, marketing manager and corporate ID is in place
- Dramatically increased coverage in the local media
- New transport routes are open and being used to promote the school to target families in relevant areas as identified in the area research
School C is a coeducational HMC boarding and day school with provision for around 800 3‐18 year old
pupils. Their pupil numbers had been declining for several years and pupil roll was around 20% than two years earlier. The school also faced severe financial difficulties, with an operating deficit approaching £1m, up from £150k the year before – even after the sale of a substantial amount of land. The school’s parent trust had allocated c£3m to transform the school and required MTM’s expertise in assessing due diligence in using this fund, as well as consultancy work on how to develop the school.
Researched the size and location of the school’s target market over the coming 10 years
- Explored the propensity towards independent education in the region and forces for change in the form of political, legal, housing and economic development
- Conducted an objective review of the quality of service available within the school through first hand research, interviews with staff, SMT and current parents
- Identified the possible and preferred options available to the school’s parent trust
- Assessment of the viability of the proposed investment, likely outcomes and impact that a revised marketing strategy could have on the school
- Defined most appropriate strategy for the future.
- Weaknesses in senior management and leadership resolved
- Relationship between the school, Governors and Trustees redefined in line with current best practice
- Made recommendations for improvements to internal systems
- Set targets for recruitment linked to financial support
- The school’s operating deficit was turned into a surplus of c£500k within 18 months
- A new marketing strategy has been implemented
- Recruitment increased by c12% between over two years
School D is a girls only preparatory school in London. Numbers had been steady, but not reaching the size desired by the new owners. It was decided to relocate the school into a new suitable building in a more prosperous location. The choice of building was limited by availability, and whilst the ultimate decision was not the best, it did offer a good range of facilities in an affluent neighbourhood. MTM were asked to support the school in the relaunch, providing strategic marketing support. We also supported the school in implementing a campaign to launch the school in its new market.
- Researched the locations and size of the realistic target families within the catchment to detail the areas to target marketing activities
- Undertook research of the current buyers and those who had enquired but not joined to understand the school’s USP and why families were choosing alternatives
- Lead focus groups of affluent families in the area with children to understand the position of the school within the market place and the awareness of the brand
- Build a strategic marketing plan with SMART targets to relaunch the school in the areas using defined messaging in key areas
- Realigned the admissions systems and processes to ensure all proper lead tracking and management, even in holidays
- Put an MTM marketing consultant in the school to build the marketing function internally, including putting appropriate systems and protocols in place
- The school more than doubled its rolls in 5 years
- A full time marketing (PR and Comms) role was established
- The admissions function and management was improved to allow tracking of the pipeline
- Additional buildings have been acquired to expand the school.
School E is a successful all through school with a growing roll in London. The prep school building was run down and tatty, with every available inch of space used for teaching and learning. With a reasonable surplus generated every year, there were funds available to build a state of the art block. However, the governors were keen to do their due diligence prior to releasing the funds. Had the market grown of had the school increased its market share? What were the market projections in the short and medium terms? What capacity should the new building have? MTM were asked to answer all these questions and more to determine whether a new building was viable.
- Roll trend analysis of school E and its competitors to see whether the market as a whole had grown or school E had a better product
- Lifestyle analysis of current pupils throughout the school to understand the types of families using the school
- Detailed analysis of the catchment area to understand the current market share
- Population projection for the next five and ten years to ascertain how the market is project to change
- Modelled the numbers the school would be expected to have in five and ten years at current market share and with increased share
- Presented the findings to the governing board with a thorough question and answer session to ensure confidence in the findings
- Funding for a new junior school building was released by the governors
- The capacity of the new building was decided to be only slightly over the current facility due to the market projections
- The public image of the school has improved, leading to an increase in enquiries
- The increase in demand allowed for an above inflation fee increase to be re-invested