If you’ve got an upcoming School Open Day, no doubt you’ve already started preparations. With so much to organise, and often so little time to do it in, it’s easy to overlook smaller details.
But it’s the little things that build the big picture. We often become so accustomed to our workplace we can overlook nuances that are picked up immediately by others.
So, how do you create the perfect open day?
Like all your other school marketing activities, planning for your school open day is critical.
Your open event is one of the most important dates in your school calendar. It’s your final opportunity to impress your community of prospective parents and students and make them choose your school over other local competitors.
Even if your school is already over-subscribed, you can use your open event to cement your position as the natural choice in your catchment area.
One of the first things to do when planning your school open day is to assign a ‘task group’. They’ll be responsible for planning and executing your vision for the Open Day, so should comprise a balance of skillsets, from someone who comes up with the most brilliant ideas, to someone obsessed with details and logistics!
Once you’ve got your task group, start off with a planning meeting to:
- Agree the format – are you hosting an open evening, open day or both? What will your open event include (a Headteacher welcome, school tour, etc)?
- Undertake a SWOT analysis – consider Strengths and Weaknesses from past events – what’s worked and what hasn’t? Overcome Threats and explore the Opportunities.
- Explore key messages – what’s important to prospective students and parents and what can you offer that other schools can’t?
Make sure the meeting is properly facilitated, working to an agreed agenda and timeframe, with actions delegated accordingly.
Some tasks take longer than others – consider third party production timeframes and order ahead. Remember to check stock levels of your prospectus as professional printing takes time.
You’ll also need to consider other promotional materials, such as:
- Advertising space – book now and arrange a professionally designed advertisement to help you stand out from the crowd.
- Pull up banners – theming the school tour with a series of beautifully designed banners reinforces values and key messages.
- External banners – if you’re in a high traffic area, use external banners to advertise your open event to the local community.
- Photoboards – order large format photoboards to transform your communal areas and create a welcoming environment.
- Feedback cards – invite feedback from prospective parents and students by printing postcards. This will help you gauge what you can improve on next year.
By using a professional agency for all your marketing materials, you can ensure greater brand consistency. Be creative with your design theme, conveying the school’s strengths and values.
Now’s a good time to recce the school grounds and building, noting any areas which will take time to address (you’ll also need to carry out this task again nearer the time and on the day).
- A lick of paint – the best way to immediately refresh tired rooms.
- Look up and down – don’t neglect floors or ceilings. Check for bulbs that need replacing.
- Look inside and out – the approach to the school including external signage, grounds, windows and guttering should be checked. Consider cleaning decking or paving with a pressure washer.
- Consider the senses – put yourself in your visitors’ shoes as you walk around the school. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? What’s the temperature like? Manage as many aspects of the sensory experience as possible.
Next, you’ll want to plan what’s happening around the school, making sure your school is at its best.
- Hands on demonstrations – practical, interactive demonstrations and experiments give a taster of life at school and get prospective students engaged with the curriculum.
- Putting on a performance – appeal to the senses with exciting musical and dramatic performances.
- Showcasing talents – what do your students excel at? For example, if they’re great at art, consider displaying student work, a live painting session, or how about creating a student mural? Make sure display boards are up to date.
- Selecting students – make the transition less daunting with relatable students for prospective students to talk to. Select confident students who are ambassadors of your school.
In the Run Up
Once you have your planning and preparation underway, continue with these critical actions.
- Tidy the grounds – carry out weeding, grass-cutting, pruning and any replanting to keep grounds tidy. Check signage is clean and not obstructed by plants. Put up your external banners on the perimeter of the school.
- Update your website – advertise the open day on your school website as early as possible. Include the information within your announcements, calendar, homepage graphical link and as a page within the menu, which you can link to. Include details of date, times, what to expect, where to park, etc.
- Hang your photoboards – take time to hang your panels so that they’re consistent in height and hide any unsightly fixings.
- Check IT and audio – if you’re using IT and audio within any presentations or demonstrations, test this early on, allowing time to seek replacements if something isn’t working.
On the Day
A final walkthrough helps ensure the school is looking its best.
- Dispose of litter – get rid of any litter that has swept into the school grounds.
- Keep it clean – in addition to deep cleaning, keep on top of cleanliness on the day (particularly high traffic areas such as toilets – keep soap and paper towels stocked up).
- Signposting routes – school open events often need contingency parking, so make sure this is clearly signposted. Have staff on hand to welcome and direct visitors on arrival.
- Set up – each room needs to be configured – double check any IT and audio required early in the day and brief staff and students on expectations. Add your pull ups and prospectus copies to strategic areas around the school.
And breathe…! Take time to reflect on your successes and learn where you can improve.
- Review feedback – collate responses from your postcards. Use these comments to feed into your school marketing and school open event strategy for the following year.
- Follow up – if you’ve asked for contact details on your postcards, why not get in touch with your prospective community and invite them to less formal events? Charity concerts, talent shows and performances are a great way to showcase school life.
Can Cleverbox Help?
We understand that preparing for your school open day is a big undertaking. With so much to organise why not let Cleverbox take the hassle out of producing powerful school marketing materials including pull up banners, advertisements and photoboards. If your school website needs to be updated, we can build you a new site and have it launched in under six months! We offer various website packages to suit your budget and can support all aspects of your online school marketing strategy, including SEO, Social Media, PPC advertising and much more.
Contact our team today to discuss your school marketing requirements on 0208 466 7222 or email [email protected]
Alternatively, choose a date that suits you and we’ll call you back.