Open Days And The Five Es

If you have a school open day planned then you need to ‘sell’ your school to attract students and parents.

Schools, independent or state, aren’t just schools – they are a brand.

Some schools have developed such a reputation for themselves that selling themselves is easy – it just happens. Once people see a school as being a good one then word of mouth is your best marketing because it goes viral and stays viral.

But many people are new to an area and those that aren’t still want to be convinced that they are making the right decision.

Some schools have a much tougher job and have to bend over backwards to get people to treat them seriously as an option.

As schools operate like businesses then they have to think in a business-like way.

This is where the 5Es comes in handy. It’s something we associate with a ‘Customer Journey’ and involves thinking through mental and physical footprints.

The five stages that prospective students and parents walk through are Entice, Enter, Engage, Exit, and Extend.

1. Entice
  • How will our future students and parents first hear about us?
  • What will trigger their interest?
  • It could be a bus advert, a billboard advert, word of mouth, a Google search, walking past the school, a social media advert, a cinema advert, a banner etc.
2. Enter
  • What impression do we create for students and parents when they walk into our school/office/website?
  • Think about all the senses – what do they see? hear? ‘feel’?
  • Is the website attractive? How intuitive is the navigation? Does it communicate the vision and values?
3. Engage
  • How does our interaction usually play out? Are we inviting or repelling?
  • What are the USPs of the school? What facilities are we ‘selling’? What opportunities are on offer for each Year group?
  • Does the school make a personal connection? Are we friendly?
4. Exit
  • After a visit to the school, what is their last impression?
  • Do they leave with doubts or are they excited and empowered?
  • Do they leave with literature, information and ‘freebies’?
5. Extend
  • Are they treated well after they have left or forgotten about?
  • How do we gather their feedback? How do we address their positive and negative comments and feelings?
  • What triggers a repeat visit?
  • What sort of interaction will students and parents they have with us in the future, if any?

Some schools have no trouble ‘signing up’ pupils but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take this customer walk journey. They also need to experiment with changes to stay fresh and relevant.

For many independent schools the 5Es is crucial because at the end of the day it’s all about ‘bums on seats’.

The 5Es is an exercise in empathy and stepping into the shoes of students and parents and seeing things as they might.

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