What can my school gain from an E-Newsletter?

(Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes)

In the last ten years, the ease with which technology can be used and applied either for communication, teaching or simply marketing, has completely altered the landscape of indirect marketing. A few short years ago, a marketing campaign involving custom-made videos or publications  and reaching, if well-targeted and carefully-planned, hundreds of existing or potential customers would have been too expensive for an average FLS to consider launching it. Nowadays, social media marketing tools such as E-Newsletters, give FLS the chance to communicate with their target client group and keep this contact up-to-date at little extra cost. 

 

E-Newsletters and their benefits

E-Newsletters are mini-magazines which are tailor-made to showcase the work done in a school, what this school does for its learners, their parents and how. In contrast to hard-copy Newsletters, modern ones do not have to be printed. This is essential as, on the one hand the school is spared the considerable cost of printing, and on the other the E-Newsletter can be published full-colour at no extra cost. At our times, when the visual aspect of any message is key to the attention the message itself is going to get, the importance of full-colour publications at no extra charge can be easily understood.

 

The benefits from publishing such a magazine are hard to measure as they are more far-reaching and powerful than initially meets the eye. E-Newsletters are a direct marketing tool, intended to reach the school’s existing clients. Still, they can easily be used to attract potential ones as well. Before the advent of e-communication, school owners tried to strike deals with local newspapers to put in advertisements or the occasional article. Nowadays, E-newsletters give the chance to FLS to be in control of the entire publication and its rhetoric, in order to promote the success and the strengths of the school, its associates and their professionalism. 

 

The above-mentioned benefits, though, are just the tip of the iceberg. Delving a bit deeper we will notice how with some clever client reception strategies school owners can use the school’s E-newsletter to ‘’welcome’’ potential clients to their school. If the E-newsletter is related to the website of the school, it can drive traffic from our social media where it will be shared for the general public, to the school website so that interested readers can ‘’read more’’. But what will the readers read?

 

Content and design

I opted to present first the bright side of E-Newsletters but we need to bear in mind that no kind of benefit comes without some initial investment of time and money. The extent of our investment and our commitment to this project will define the success of our E-Newsletter.

 

Despite the fact that technology is usually easy to apply, creating a professional publication for our school, is not a walk in the park if we want the outcome to be professional and pleasing to the eye. This means using professionals who can design our publication and give our content, a framework. It is vital that the design be modern, clear and easy to read. In addition, our E-Newsletter has to be mobile friendly, so that readers can read it from on their mobile devices. The colour-scheme and the general design of the publication should be related with the brand of the school, so as to create the idea of a unified whole.

 

 Another aspect to consider is what happens to all the past issues. Usually, people think of E-Newsletters as PDFs which will be sent via email. While this is a great way to make them immediately available to readers I personally that we also need to store them on our website so that our publication past issues are accessible. I am sure this will raise voices of protest as many school owners will be afraid of their unique product being copied by competitors. Let me reassure you by saying that firstly, it is hard for any competitor to copy easily, but in a professional way, what you struggled to create. Secondly, saving our E-Newsletters on our website means that we save a piece of the history of the school, which is yet another far-reaching benefit of E-Newsletter that is not initially noticed. By creating a library of past issues, we give everyone the chance to access and read our history and accomplishments in a most tangible way. Seeing E-Newsletters as the traces of our school through time and space makes us realize that it is vital to create a publication that accurately reflects the school at its present state. This, of course is related to content-development, to the people who develop this content and how well they know the school.

 

If the design is the frame, the content is the photo. There is no reason for parents or students to read an E-Newsletter if this is just an assortment of links from other websites. For a successful newsletter, the content has to be original and to reflect the school in its present state. To achieve this, the school needs to consider first the feasibility and the sustainability of this venture. Undoubtedly, this project is not one that school owners can take on by themselves. A team of professionals, consisting of the people who work and know the school (teachers, secretaries, students, even parents) will be involved. If they are not, the school will not be accurately reflected. Therefore the end result will see ‘’contrived’’ and ‘’fake’’ so nobody will actually engage with it deeply. This is why the school needs to examine how feasible this project is, how eager and available these people are to work on this project and how many issues the school can ‘’afford’’ to bring out in an academic year, always bearing in mind that these issues will feature balanced and original content which is tastefully designed.

Feasibility and Sustainability

Examining the feasibility and sustainability of the project before we embark on it is central, so that we are not let down, or even worse, we do not let down our audience. Very often, school owners get carried away by their eagerness to do a lot and they put so much into a project, may that be a public event, a sales’ strategy or an E-Newsletter, only to burn themselves out for lack of initial feasibility assessment and decide to give up the project. What comes next is a general rejection of any marketing idea as ineffective and unrelated to the needs of the clients. In reality, any marketing idea (much like any teaching idea) will bear good and juicy fruit, provided we engage with it faithfully and consistently, apply it systematically, measure its effectiveness and learn valuable lessons from its practical application so as to improve it.  E-Newsletters are no exception to that. 

 

Can an E-Newsletter bring me more clients?

Many school owners ask me this question at the end of a presentation on marketing tools. My reply is always the same. ‘’What brings clients to your school is the quality and consistency of your teaching (product). The rest are just ways of making this service and its features (people, price, place) more visible (promotion). Therefore, the class will bring you clients. The E-Newsletter will just show what your classes do for learners. Its originality and efficacy will undoubtedly determine its popularity.’’

Readers tend to engage with publications which inspire them and give them ideas or solutions to their own problems. Therefore, before venturing out to publish an E-Newsletter, take a good look at your target audience. Who are they? Do they engage with reading materials? Perhaps, this is where some internal research would be useful. This is exactly what I will be talking about this August at the Exhibitions in Thessaloniki and writing about next fall.

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Bio: Maria Sachpazian BA education / RSA dip/tefl (hons) is the Academic and Managing Director of Input on Education a company which provides academic, business support and consultancy to Foreign Language Schools. She is also an educational management specialist who has worked as a teacher trainer and materials’ developer. Maria works as an EFL teacher at the Straight Up Markoyannopoulou schools. She is the current Chairperson of TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece. www.input.edu.gr | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

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