Video Marketing for Independent Schools 101

28th June 2021

written by George Hughes

Marketing an independent school is not easy! It’s hard to grab parents’ attention and to make them listen to what you have to say. It seems like no matter what you do, other schools are doing it too. So how do you make your school stand out? 

This is where video comes in. The right video content will make your school…

  • Stand out. 
  • Get more attention. 
  • Be more memorable. 

And those three things are exactly what you need if you want to drive more of the right admissions and get the recognition you deserve. 

If you are a marketer at an independent school in the UK then you’ve almost certainly either contemplated creating some video content for your school or have used this medium already. Everyone seems to be getting on the video bandwagon so it makes sense to do the same right? 

But have you taken a step back and really considered “why” you are creating video in the first place? Because let me tell you, video isn’t just a “nice to have”, it can deliver phenomenal results for your school if you use it in the right way. And when you take a strategic approach to video marketing, it will become the secret weapon in your marketing arsenal. 

So what do I mean by “video marketing”.  Video marketing is about approaching video in a much more strategic and results-driven way. It’s about using video as a powerful tool to drive the right outcomes for your school. It’s about integrating video into different aspects of your marketing. And it’s about going “beyond the website video” and treating video as an ongoing project rather than just a one-off school promotional film. 

Let me share my secret formula for video that delivers results. I call it the Resonance Method because it’s a framework that I’ve designed for creating content that resonates with your audience. When content resonates with an audience you will grab their attention, they will listen to what you have to say and you can turn that engagement into action. 

So here’s my 5-step formula. And yes, it spells VIDEO. Aren’t I clever?

Vision – Get clear on your objectives, audience and outcomes. 

Idea – Create ideas for different videos that will deliver on your vision. 

Drama – Master storytelling to engage your audience. 

Execution – Deliver the best quality for the budget available.

Outreach – Put your videos in front of your audience to create results. 

So that’s the theory. But how does this work in practice…

Firstly, I want you to think about the videos for your school as a series of windows that parents can look through to get a better understanding of your story and the value they will get from sending their child to your school. 

The first window is going to be your school promotional video. That’s like your shop window. It will sit on your homepage and give parents a snap-shot of your school. But then you need to take them on a journey, giving them other windows to look through like videos about the different departments at your school, videos introducing the pupils and teachers or other aspects of school life.

So how do you decide which school videos are right for you? Let’s go back to my Resonance Method to unpack this. 

Firstly, set out your Vision. What is the reason for doing video in the first place? Do you want to drive admissions? Raise awareness for a particular school initiative? Change the perception of your school? Reach foreign students? Lift your credibility? Once you are clear on your objectives, then think about your audience. Is it parents or pupils? Where are they and what are their wants, needs or fears about finding a school for their child? This is important because a London millennial seeking the good life in Oxfordshire has completely different wants, needs and fears to a Chinese parent sending their child overseas. Finally try to put some KPIs in place to measure the outcome of your video project. Think beyond just views, likes and shares. Could you tie a video campaign to requests for a prospectus or gather feedback from parents on their reaction to the video? 

Next think about Ideas for your school videos that deliver on your vision. Maybe you are a sporty school that needs to be seen as academic. Then you could create a video focusing on the curriculum. Or maybe people don’t think your sports facilities are up to scratch even though you’ve got a brand new sports hall. Then make a video about that. Sometimes you might be traditionally seen as a boy’s school even though you’ve gone co-ed. So make a video to change your image. The ideas for your video mustn’t just be plucked from thin-air. Whether it’s your school promotional video or other videos, try to ensure they deliver on your vision. 

Once you know what videos you are creating, make sure you think about how you will deliver some Drama with each one. This is about having good storytelling and finding the right way to tell the story. It’s also about who delivers that story. A “Meet the Head” video is a great way to reassure parents about sending their child to the school, but it’s not going to be much good if your head is monosyllabic and introverted. A video about school life is a great way to show a different side to the school but if it’s not exciting with charismatic pupils then it will reflect poorly on your school. Remember, just like any good story, every video should have a beginning, middle and end. This is also known as the narrative arc. Think about how you want your video to look and feel. Is it a whizzy, high energy video full of bright text and motion graphics or is a slow, majestic film with beautiful aerial shots. The style of your video and how you create drama shouldn’t just reflect your own brand image, it should speak to the parents you are trying to reach. 

Once you’ve planned your video project, it’s time to assemble the right team to complete it. Working with a video production company is by far the best idea when creating video for your school. In that way, your Execution will be on point. Don’t be tempted to ask your web design, marketing or PR company to do it. They are unlikely to have the expertise and will almost certainly subcontract the job. You may know a freelance videographer who will be more cost effective and there’s nothing wrong with that, but think long and hard about cutting too many corners with your school promotional videos. A video is a reflection of your school and is on a par with your website. So make sure it looks just as good. 

Finally, once you’ve got all your videos completed, you need to make sure they are working for you. This is about spending time in the Outreach phase, doing everything you can to ensure your videos are seen by the parents that matter. The best video in the world will do nothing for you unless it’s seen by your audience.

Here are a few ideas to get your video out there:

  • Put it on your website and on individual pages through your website. 
  • Place it on your social media channels including your banner on Facebook. 
  • Send it out in your newsletter to existing parents and send it via email to prospective parents. 
  • Run paid adverts on social media or youtube. 
  • Play the video on digital billboards in nearby towns. 
  • Play it on screens at the Independent school show or other shows. 
  • You can even send hard copies out in the post using “video brochures” though these aren’t very environmentally friendly so I wouldn’t recommend them. 

Creativity is nothing without strategy and when you marry the two in a comprehensive video marketing plan for your school, you are going to get some amazing results. Try to think of video as an ongoing part of your school marketing repertoire rather than just a box-ticking exercise.

Want Small Films to create a promotional video for your indepedent school? Then give us a shout at info@smallfilms.com