A window to your school

Creating the perfect prospectus for your school is no mean feat. This one document can make a huge impact on parents who may be faced with the daunting choice of selecting the right school for their child.

Something that stands out but for the wrong reasons, because it shows less care and attention has been given to its creation when stacked up against the competition just won’t cut it with parents.

What goes into the content is crucial: issues of mental wellbeing, exam results, school reforms and other issues affecting students and teaching staff are constantly in the news, so shouting about your school’s positive attributes is more important than ever. What you say and how you say it really counts.

We know that schools take the development of their school prospectus very seriously. In fact, when asked, on a scale of 1–10 about how important a printed prospectus is to a school, 81% voted between 5 and 10, and only 19% voted between 1 and 5.

Unify has recently done a survey of 450 independent schools to gather as many views from schools as possible and gain a real insight into how independent schools develop their prospectuses and what challenges they face. Read on to see what we found out.

What makes a prospectus great?

Of course, your prospectus needs to look as good as it can possibly look for your budget. This is your school’s shop window after all, and you are looking to impress potential students, parents, the community and even potential new staff.

Unify knows through feedback from parents that what impresses them most is:

  • a creative and honest approach
  • good, quality design and non-staged imagery
  • insights from students themselves
  • a range of content that appeals to parents and their children.

Design and photographic content, as well as tone and style are key, but keeping that fresh and up-to-date is where schools can sometimes struggle.

What do schools find challenging?

Our survey found that barriers to developing a great prospectus and keeping it up-to-date include:

  1. content addition
  2. lack of time
  3. printing and wastage costs
  4. personalisation
  5. keeping it on brand
  6. managing stock levels.

We discovered from our survey that although 65% of schools have one main prospectus, 35% of schools actually have multiple prospectuses: creating them for different sections of the school: Pre-Prep, Prep and Sixth Form for example. This also adds to the updating challenge.

If you bear in mind that for any one prospectus, 71% of schools in our survey tell us that they will update that content within 2-3 years and 27% every year, with nearly half spending over £2,000 as a result, getting that update right is crucial.

In our survey, 51% of schools said that when updating a prospectus, they would print 1,000 or more copies, 32% said they would print between 500 and 1000 copies and only 17% print less than 500 copies. But when it comes to throwing away old print stock, 55% of schools bin up to 50 copies, 15% throw away between 50–100 copies, 10% throw away 100 – 200 copies and 20% bin over 200 copies. So that wastage creates an additional cost issue for schools.

A new way forward?

An interesting fact for us that came out of this survey was that apart from the covering letter, 97% of schools don’t personalise their school prospectus. It turns out that 78% of schools would like the option to send out a personalised tailored prospectus rather than a generic one as over half of respondents feel it would have some impact and 40% say it would have a real ‘wow factor’.

83% of schools say it would be a marketing benefit to be able to tailor the content of the prospectus to the pupil. The reasons behind this might be linked to the fact that 95% of schools told us they sent out other marketing materials along with the prospectus, leading to extra printing costs. In addition, being able to tailor one prospectus to an individual’s needs allows the end-user to see that as a school you have listened to what interests that child and are reaching out directly to them.

Because every school is unique, and what you want to talk about changes more than once a year, Unify has created software that enables schools to take the control of design and content creation for their prospectus in-house.

Not only can you create bespoke information, you can save on paper wastage and costs by printing individual booklets on demand while staying absolutely on-brand.

Free up your admission and marketing team’s time

When we asked schools how many individual prospectuses they sent out each month, 31% said they sent out between 1 and 10 prospectuses per month, 51% said they send out between 10 and 25 per month and 16% said they send out over 30 per month.

However, some schools told us that each prospectus pack can take their admission team up to 40 minutes to prepare, depending on how many items are being sent out. Our survey went on to show that 30% of teams take between 5 and 10 minutes, 30% take between 10 and 20 minutes, 26% take between 20 and 30 minutes and 14% take 30–40 minutes. If you do the maths, you can see why an alternative way that saves time is appealing!

Personalisation is the future

It would seem that schools really love the idea of being able to update their prospectus on an individual basis: filling the prospectus with family-relevant content is the holy grail to school marketers. Finding a way to tell the stories that each unique family wants to hear, while saving your marketing and admissions teams time and money is the future. In fact, 90% of schools we spoke to said that they would absolutely see the benefit in being able to update their prospectus live at any time.

Make sure your prospectus is having the maximum impact it can have. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We can work with you to personalise aspects of your marketing offering, give you advice on prospectus development or to help you plan your strategy for your next prospectus.

How Queenswood School used personalisation

Queenswood School recently approached Unify to help personalise its prospectus and allow the school to update key areas as frequently as they would like.

The school had decided to stop sending out a cover letter and instead provide an information page from the Headmistress. Unify provided the capability for this particular page to be personalised to include a prospective child’s name.

A separate brochure without personalisation was created for general admissions information and this was printed in bulk and stored at our print facility ready for fulfilment, as and when required. The storage facility also housed slip cases and envelopes. This gave the school the flexibility to personalise a portion of the prospectus and have a generic section to send out as required.

Parents now receive a prospectus that has a personalised element with the ‘wow factor’ that brings, but without huge cost implications for the school. Feedback has suggested that prospective parents are impressed with the personalisation, and the school has been able to create bespoke prospectuses for specific feeder school families, which have also gone down very well indeed.

Read the full Queenswood case study here https://unifyschools.co.uk/case-studies/queenswood/

Contact us today for more advice and to find out how we can help your school 01279 732436