In our survey of the 500 largest independent schools in the UK, ‘inspiring’, ‘excellence’ and ‘individual’ appear in the top five most used words.
So what does the unrestrained use of these and other overused words tell us about independent school marketing? Are all schools really so similar that we can’t find unique ways of talking about them?
Of course not. We’ve toured, explored, investigated and interrogated independent schools up and down the country and we can report back that each one is, of course, unique. Each a rich recipe of heritage, ethos, people, place and processes not replicated by any other school.
But they are also all completely identical in one very important way: they are all schools. And what schools do is far from unique, in fact it’s very similar across the sector. A good education should always be ‘inspiring’, ‘excellent’ and focussed on the ‘individual’.
The reason you sound like other schools is because you’re talking too much about what you do and not enough about how or why you do it.
It’s like describing your spaghetti bolognese recipe as ’tasty’. I’m not sold– you could be talking about any plate of spagbol. Tell me it’s tasty because of the unique blend of herbs that you picked fresh from your garden that morning and left to simmer for two hours to make it extra tender and I’m interested. You’ve just told me how you make it tasty.
Tell me you put your heart and soul into it because you want to do justice to the recipe your gran handed down to you and I’ll be round for dinner tonight. You’ve just told me why you do it your way.
If you don’t want to sound like other schools, stop talking about what you do, instead focus on how and why* you do it – your unique recipe is sure to leave a wonderful taste in the mouths of potential families.
*very few schools know why they do what they do, but that’s a whole other article.
The list below shows the top 10 most used words in school marketing. We looked at the primary message on the homepage of each the of biggest 500 independent school in the UK, whether that be a headline or strap line.
52% of schools don’t have a primary message, and instead greet you with a generic phrase like ‘welcome to our school’. We’ve classed these schools as not saying anything.
- Educate / Education / Educating
- Inspire / Inspiring
- Excellent / Excellence
- Achieve / Achievement
- Learn / Learning
- Nurture / Nurtured
52% of schools say nothing at all