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Stand out from the noise: create a school “Love-Mark”… August 2, 2010

Posted by Alex, Managing Director in Independent Education, Marketing, New releases.
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We are just putting the finishing touches to the latest release in our Leading Schools in the 21st Century series, published in partnership with the HMC and other leading educational associations.

Public Relations, Marketing and Development – scheduled for release at the end of September – is the sixth book in this popular professional development series, and focuses on helping independent schools continue to advance and achieve success in these changing times.

In addition to HMC, this particular book is equally co-sponsored by two further organisations: The Association of Marketing and Development in Independent Schools (AMDIS) and The Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE).

Co-editor and chairman of IDPE Nick Pettingale has kindly written us an introduction to the book, detailing why the role of marketing is so crucial to independent schools in the modern age and why a “master brand identity” is crucial to be heard over the “clutter”.

Many thanks to Nick for writing for us. We hope to also hear from co-editors Nigel Richardson and Tory Gillingham of AMDIS over the next few weeks.

I took on the editing of this book on behalf of the IDPE for several reasons, as outlined below, but primarily because I believe this is the time for the independent schools sector to embrace marketing and development wholeheartedly.

For so long these two professions were dirty words, often boiled down to ‘selling’ and ‘fundraising’, quite rightly anathemas  to most Heads. Of course marketing is much more than ‘selling’ and development is much more than ‘fundraising’ as this book demonstrates.

Without a doubt, the role of the development professional is now integral to the future of independent schools in the UK. We cannot simply keep on increasing school fees to fund capital development or even bursarial support. Our schools need, more than ever, a professionally overseen development strategy, as well as assistance in implementing the best of good business practice and someone to stand alongside the Head and keep an eye on the future, whilst they do what they are called to do and that is educate children.

You will read much in this book that is practical, down to earth, clear, simple advice, good processes and techniques but let us not forget that people still fundamentally buy with their emotions FIRST. Therefore how we capture who we are, promote our uniqueness and position our ‘brand’ is critical.

In today’s business environment it is increasingly difficult for an organisation to be noticed or even heard. The clutter, volume and visual overkill of competing messages is overwhelming. As a result, more and more organisations are concentrating on developing a uniform, easily recognised “master brand identity” to communicate who they are to the public. This is increasingly true of the independent schools sector too. One only has to think about the turnaround of M&S aided by simply adding the word YOUR to its brand identity or Tesco’s ‘every little helps’ – Orange, ‘the future’s bright’ or HSBC, ‘your local bank’ all capturing an emotion rather than a hard or true fact.

The best current example is BMW – ‘we don’t just make cars, we make joy’ – selling an emotion and Guinness – ‘bring it to life’. People ‘buy’ with their hearts and justify their choices with their heads, not the other way round.

Our schools are uniquely positioned to generate and become what Kevin Roberts [CEO Saatchi and Saatchi Worldwide] calls a ‘Love Mark’ [as opposed to a trade mark]. Our schools generate huge feelings of warmth, love and loyalty from our past students, and sometimes even our current parents, which is beyond reason and logic at times.

However, so much of this love and warmth can lie dormant and untapped without a professional development strategy in place. Someone to take responsibility of capturing, coordinating and channelling that goodwill, to benefit the school of today and our students of tomorrow.

Each year hundreds of people form impressions about your school based on your ability to communicate and your public image. Perceptions are real and very hard to change once established even if they are inaccurate. People make judgments about who we are and what we stand for — our credibility, our competence and our caring. That’s why the impression we create and how we communicate is so important.

Marketing and Development are here to stay; some schools already know that and have a fully functioning, professional set up in place. Others need to catch up and quickly.

Nick Pettingale, co-editor, IDPE chairman

This particular book is equally co-sponsored by two organisations, which have come into existence much more recently than HMC (founded in 1869): The Association of Marketing and Development in Independent Schools (AMDIS) and The Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE).
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