In this digital age that we live in, there is an app for everything. Whilst this may seem like just a clever marketing pitch, in fact there are a number of reasons why the app is a tool that is so suitable to every type of organisation and institution. The requirement to be able to market and communicate effectively is now as appropriate for schools and sixth form colleges, as it is for a small business or legal practice, and using ‘an app for that’ offers considerable advantages over opting for traditional channels of communication, such as print media and the internet.
As well as providing high quality education, excellent facilities and delivering a well rounded, well equipped pupil at the end of the process, schools and sixth form colleges now also need to be able to actively attract students. For most institutions, reputation alone is unlikely to be enough to do this, but the costs of taking out advertising in glossy magazines or newspapers can be prohibitive. The internet has revolutionised the way that businesses market themselves and the app is now one of the most cost effective ways to compete in a professional digital market. Arguably, there is simply no other type of advertising that provides the kind of exposure that a position in the ITunes app store offers for the same minimal cost.
Another obvious benefit of using app technology is the impression this creates on potential pupils and parents. A school that is on top of digital marketing is clearly embracing technology and able to use it to ensure its pupils are getting ahead using the benefits of the modern age. Most parents and pupils will use digital technology – iPhone and Android apps, the internet etc – on a regular basis, which makes the schools app a more accessible interface than more traditional forms of advertising, such as a print magazine that is limited to its existing readership. Whereas paper products like brochures are expensive to produce and often end up sitting unused in boxes, a schools app has much less impact in terms of financial cost, as well as environmental cost, as no physical materials are used in its production. There is also an attraction for a pupil where a school is able to communicate on a level the pupil completely understands and the influence a child has over its parents on the decision as to which school to choose should not be underestimated!
One organisation that has spent some time successfully developing apps is Insight Mobile. The company has become expert at tailoring apps specifically for businesses and institutions and suggests that a schools app could provide:
- a handheld digital prospectus that is detailed and informative, as well as more cost effective than traditional brochures
- an instant resource providing potential parents with GPS directions to the school, email contacts for teachers etc, and existing parents with access to school timetables, details of sports fixtures etc
- a method of effectively communicating important announcements about school events, sports fixtures, closures etc at the touch of a button, including the ability to send messages free of charge via push notifications
- a way of introducing additional extras, such as a diary feature for parents so that events and fixtures are not missed
By harnessing this kind of technology and setting up a schools app, most institutions instantly broaden their potential market of new pupils, as well as providing the opportunity for greater communication with existing parents and students. It is clear that when it comes to schools and sixth form colleges successfully conquering the digital age, the app is going to be key.