Despite the popularity of social media and digital marketing, prospectuses are still a crucial part of school marketing. They can be handed out at events and open days, giving an instant impression of the school.
Produced correctly, they can really showcase your school and tell your story in a compelling, powerful way that’s difficult to replicate online.
Ultimately, however, your prospectus doesn’t have to tell parents everything there is to know about your school; it should simply inspire and encourage them to come and visit you and witness it all for themselves. Collectively, your marketing materials should aim to get them through the door – and once you’ve done that, the job’s done.
Include a call to action
The good news is that a printed prospectus often means that readers will spend longer reading it, and are likely to spend time going through it with their child. However, it’s worth also driving your prospectus readers towards an online version to which you’ve added in some finer details. A prospectus hosted online can provide you with detailed analytics of your website users’ behavior, how they came to be on your site and potentially their age, location and other details. This all helps to build a base of knowledge that can inform your marketing strategies and grow your admissions.
Ensure it doesn’t date
We’re often asked, “How many years until I need a new prospectus?” Well, a prospectus needs a reasonable shelf life if it’s to deliver a return on the investment you’ve made in it. We recommend not listing your staff, last year’s academic results or (for independent schools), the fees you charge. If that’s information you’d specifically like to give out, consider adding a built-in folder to your prospectus, or again driving readers to your website.
High quality imagery is at the heart of every great prospectus. Forget using an iPhone or an amateur volunteer and invest in a professional photographer. Those key images will form your first impressions, so make them great. Focus on three or four defining images that say everything about the school, without the need for words. The pictures will not only make your prospectus come alive, but can also be used on your website, on social media and in press releases.
Tell your story
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways of breathing life into your prospectus. You can take your target audience on a journey which they’ll yearn for their child to experience. For new parents to form a personal connection with your school, any case studies and testimonials must be authentic. Ensure your content is creative and inspirational throughout.
Use as high a quality print finish as possible
Don’t think for a second that you need simply print out a low-quality prospectus for your school and all will be fine. The end result must be produced to the highest standard, though obviously within your budget. There are myriad factors that can affect print quality and cost; liaising closely with your designers or printers direct will ensure that you get the best quality results for your money.
Don’t write words for the sake of it. If you can say the same thing with half the amount of words, then do so. If you feel that one perfectly executed image will get your message across, then use it with only a small amount of supporting copy. Try and keep the word count to less than 100 per page.
Ensure consistent branding
When designing your brochure, make sure your branding is consistent with the rest of your marketing materials. For many parents, the school website will still be the first thing they look at when considering a school. The prospectus needs to be an extension of the website and any other communications they might have had with the school up to that point in order to maintain consistency.
While it’s not a statutory requirement for schools to produce a printed prospectus, we all know it’s incredibly important to have quality printed information that you can hand out. Don’t overload your prospectus with too many details, however – you can point readers to parts of your website with further explanations. If you offer a range of school activities, for example, don’t list them all in your prospectus but drive readers to your website instead.
The areas you’ll most commonly find in a prospectus are: