The Ultimate Guide to Open-Day Marketing
School Open Days are upon us once again. Dreaded or embraced, Open Days are a fantastic opportunity to showcase your school and attract prospective students and parents. To ensure a successful event, a well-thought-out marketing plan is essential. In this post, we'll provide you with a comprehensive checklist to make your School Open Day marketing efforts effective and impactful.
Define Your Objectives
This may seem like a no-brainer, but clearly outlining your goals and objectives for the Open Day is key. Are you aiming to increase enrolment in 2024, promote specific programs, enhance community engagement or even drive some last-minute 2023 enrolments? Understanding your objectives will shape your day and your marketing tactics.
Create a Timeline
Set a detailed timeline for your marketing activities leading up to the event. Clearly map out what's needed, when, and who will be involved. There are plenty of free event planning software out there to explore. Microsoft Planner is a free tool that many schools have access to and is very reminiscent of the old Trello app that many of you will be familiar with.
Design Compelling Promo Materials
Designing visually appealing materials such as posters, banners, and digital graphics will have a huge impact on engagement, both online and off. Make sure your graphics are appropriate for the platform you're sharing them on and that they clearly convey your school's brand and ethos. Be recognisable!
Optimise Your School Website
Nothing is worse than an outdated Open Day page. Be sure to update your school website with information about the event, including the date, time, location, and what they can expect. If possible, reduce your registration form. Don't forget a message field to allow for questions or comments about the event. And, of course, ensure your page is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. When in doubt, test it out yourself.
Use the Power of Digital Advertising
We know first-hand the pivotal role digital advertising plays in driving attendance and engagement at a school's Open Day. With its vast reach and targeting capabilities, digital platforms like social media, search engines, and display networks allow you to connect with the right audience. Utilise targeted ad campaigns to reach prospective parents based on their interests, demographics, and online behaviour. By optimising your digital advertising efforts, you can maximise the impact of your Open Day promotion, ensuring a successful and well-attended event.
Leverage Social Media
Utilise social media platforms to regularly promote your event. Creating a unique hashtag for your Open Day is a great way to encourage user-generated content and engagement from your current parents. If you're not running a paid social media campaign, at the very least, boost an organic post about your Open Day that's received good engagement and comments to show how much your school is loved.
Email Marketing Campaign
If your school is already using personalisation like that offered by UBIQ, take advantage of your data and create segmented lists that allow you to tailor your Open Day invites. Have a group of visitors shown interest in your sports pages? Mention the sports facility tour they can take part in during the Open Day. Perhaps other visitors have repeatedly been accessing your destination schools. Why not include testimonials that reflect the doors and education at your school opens.
Collaborate with Local Media
Make the most of your media connections, whether that is your local newspaper or radio station, and ask them to share your Open Day. Press releases and media partnerships can significantly increase event visibility. There are also plenty of free (local) event websites that you can share your Open Day on. And don't forget Facebook and Google My Business—be sure to post your event there!
Host Virtual Information Sessions
If you're a boarding school, or perhaps remotely situated, why not incorporate virtual sessions for parents and students who may not be able to attend in person? Offer live webinars and Q&A sessions to make the event accessible to a wider audience. Record these sessions for future marketing.
Utilise Alumni and Ambassadors
Leverage your school's alumni network and parent ambassadors to spread the word about the Open Day. Their testimonials and experiences can be powerful marketing tools. If you don't already have testimonials or a list to reach out to, get on social and look for your most engaged parents—chances are they'll be happy to spread the love.
Partner with Local Businesses
Collaborate with local businesses to promote your Open Day. Posters and flyers in high-traffic areas, such as cafes, libraries, and community centres are a great way to spread the word. Keep your target audiences in mind, though. Would your parents frequent that business?
Plan Interactive Activities
Organise engaging activities and demonstrations during your Open Day. These could include interactive workshops, guided tours, and student performances. These optional add-ons are a great way to deliver personalised experiences to your parents.
Capture High-Quality Visuals
If you can, hire a photographer or videographer to capture your Open Day. This valuable content can be leveraged for future marketing endeavours, showcasing the school's atmosphere and activities. The material can also be used in your follow-up thank you emails, reminding parents of their amazing experience and creating a lasting impression of the school's vibrant community.
Send Follow-Up Thank You Emails
After the Open Day, express your gratitude with personalised thank-you emails to all attendees. To maintain their enthusiasm, include a call to action inviting them to revisit the school for a private tour or attend events tailored to their interests. Encourage questions, showing that their input is highly valued. Utilise personalisation to continually nurture the relationship and watch those enrolment numbers grow.
Happy Open Day to you all!