School open days are extremely important in an environment where schools must compete to attract new families and persuade them that you’re the best local education provider. This article considers how you can best host an effective school open day, whatever type of school you run. An effective school open day for the purposes of this discussion being one that results in significant numbers of new enrolments.
Beyond the private sector, marketing wasn’t really considered important until relatively recently. So, here’s a straightforward 5-step process to help you get organised. There are lots of questions to get you thinking; hopefully they’ll prompt action, too.
Step 1: Plan Your School Open Day
Clearly no successful school open day is going to happen without a decent plan. But when do you start planning? Is it early enough? For example, if you use social media to promote it, you should be starting to do so several months ahead.
To get the messaging right you need reach a collective understanding of the objectives. Have you done that? And what was learned from the last few school open days you ran. Have you found constructive ideas from elsewhere?
To host an effective school open day, you’ll usually need a team to manage it. Are pupils involved? Is there a budget already set or can you propose one?
Step 2: Promote the Event
Some of your promotional activity will have no cost to you. Some will be low cost and you should prepare to invest a little more in other marketing-related activity.
Let’s start with the in-house activity without cost. You’ll need a dedicated web page for each school open day you run. You’ll need to update your events pages with details, too. Then there’s local PR and social media. A campaign plan will help you focus on using free marketing resources to get meet your stated objectives.
And take advantage of the free advertising you can get through MySchoolOpenDays.co.uk. We’ll also announce your open day on social media and retweet any of your tweets that mention us.
Where the cost comes in is with any advertising you undertake and printing, signage etc.
Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice
Yes, practice makes perfect! An event of this scale requires the collaboration of a big team of staff and in some cases, students. Performing a rehearsal a few days before the big event will be invaluable. It’ll help you to quickly spot any flaws in your planning and allow you the time to address any issues. This is especially true for younger pupils, who may understand less of what goes on the school than you’d hoped. Everyone will need some degree of training and as organisers, it’s your responsibility to provide it.
Step 4: Follow-Up
Most families visiting your open day will be looking at other schools as well. You should not expect to get large numbers enrolments on the day. So, keeping the dialogue open with parents is vital.
Make sure you set up to gather permission to continue the conversation through emails, newsletters and mailings.
And once you’ve got an extensive list of parents to contact, make sure you do! It’s very easy to delay the follow-up in post-event euphoria, which is usually a mistake. Your plans should include the follow-up; how you’ll do it, when and who’ll do it.
Step 5: Evaluate
Did you Host an Effective School Open Day? Or was it full of warm comments but not enough enrolments? You need to be honest with yourselves here. You should’ve planned exactly what you want to measure as well how you’re measuring it. So, by the time you get to evaluation, the processes are all in place and the data is available.
Don’t just focus on the result. Look at how parents will make decisions and whether you can open a dialogue with them. Social media engagements, newsletter sign ups and proper discussions are all good milestones to track.
Each school open day should be unique and memorable. This is our outline 5-step process of how you can host an effective school open day that generates the new enrolments you need. We know we’ve probably raised more questions than we’ve answered here. Look out for our other blogs to help you put the flesh on the bones of your school open day event management.