How to #StandOut: The Head's Welcome conundrum
At @intSchools we promote one core ideal for you to integrate into your school's marketing: ✨STAND OUT✨. We see, day-in and day-out, so many of the key marketing tools employed by schools failing to live up to this simple mantra. Chief among these are the school website.
Now imagine you are a parent, looking for something that really speaks to them - the place they want to send their child to gain an education. If your site looks like any of the above the likelihood is they will skim right past it.
The Head's Welcome
Let's focus on one change that really can make a huge difference when employed properly. Yep, you guessed it: the Head's Welcome.
This is often one of the first pages that new visitors to your site will visit - or are directed to. So when we saw this article from TES we were shocked to see that so often what should be a really good, engaging Head's Welcome is lost in a world of 'same'.
This just will not do! It is so important to ensure that it is as good as it possibly can be - it should reflect the school's brand as well as the personality of the Head. In fact, we would say that of all the pages on your school's website this is the one that you can inflect real human-to-human engagement.
Take a look at your Head's Welcome page. Notice the language used. Now tick off each word from the image below. How many are in there? 1? 2? 5? All of them? It's no surprise - this is the type of language that has been synonymous with schools for a long time. Let's be fair, every school is keen to highlight that they have high standards of excellence; that they achieve outstanding results; and are the best at what they do. School's are always proud of their pupils, who leave with strong and confident personalities; and school's are, of course, rich in learning; an exciting place to study; and a safe haven to develop in.
We get it - these are all huge, massive, gargantuan traits that schools are keen to be advertising. However, imagine you are that parent again and you're looking at 10 schools in the area. You read this similar message 9 times and something with a bit more honesty and creativity just once. Which one are you going to remember?
Every school is starting to sound the same.
What do I do?
Tailoring a super-innovative, original and mind-blowing Head's Welcome is no easy feat. Really, there is no one-stop piece of advice we can offer. Instead we can offer some guiding points - the rest is down to you!
- Understand your competition: The best way to move away from your competition in the quest for originality is to research them. Understand what they are saying about their school. Note the points that are similar to your own school and the points that don't appear genuinely unique to their school (if any). This will give you a starting point on what to avoid and a focus on making your school's own uniqueness come through.
- Understand human behaviour: The way we are reading websites and taking on information has dramatically changed from even 10 years ago. A key element to always consider is peoples' attention. On average a person will spend less than 60 seconds on a webpage, unless they are engaged. With this in mind be succinct in your message and display it in short paragraphs (think of it as bite-size segments).
- Keep it relevant: Having a proud heritage or a building built 400 years ago might be interesting for you - but does this interest the parent looking at your school? What does an old building offer their child? They want to know about the education and care your school will provide. Keep it relevant to the people who will be reading your introduction.
- Be honest: The article, linked above, from TES made it clear that what many Head's are writing in their welcomes are attempts to cover negative issues surrounding the school. While some of the examples noted in the article are a little tenuous it does promote something important - honesty. There is no shame noting the school's difficulties (perhaps with budget or staff numbers). This is to offer parents and stakeholders a wider picture of your school.
- Show proof: Almost every organisation will have a motto, a mission-statement, a strapline. But what do they actually mean? Most of the time, they are created because that's the normal thing to do. We want schools to prove that the words they are saying actually mean something!
Learning a lesson
The Head's Welcome is important for two reasons:
- As we have already noted it is often the first page that parents and stakeholders navigate, or are navigated, to. It goes without saying that the first impression is vital to whether or not this person will remember what they have seen or look to invest in your school.
- The Head should always set the bar. Yep, the Head is the school's leader and an example for other departments and individuals to follow after. If you make the Head's Welcome as the prime example of what is good, it stands to reason that the rest of the website will follow.
Just remember that the aim of the game is to...
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