Last night a school we work for held their second Open House; an event which is specifically aimed at recruiting next year’s student intake.
We’ve seen in the past that these events are an essential part of recruitment and go a long way to help the 16 year olds make up their mind about whether the school is for them.
In the run up to the event we put our energy and marketing efforts into a:
- Facebook page
- email newsletter
In addition we also spoke at 3 local schools and placed one advert in Metro, the daily free newspaper that is distributed in Stockholm.
Now I’m not going to breakdown the costs of hiring an agency to build a blog, Facebook and Twitter presence over two years; however, I’m interested in what I discovered last night about newspaper adverts.
The advert in Metro should have cost 34,000 kronor (USD 5000) but we actually managed to get the price knocked down considerably.
Then, as the audience began to build up in the school auditorium I went around asking as many people I could where they had found out about the date for Open House.
“How did you know it was Open House tonight?” I asked everyone.
The overriding response was: “The internet.”
When I pushed them to tell me the site, the majority told me they’d visited the school’s homepage because they knew the name of the school (from friends, family, etc), had found it on Google or surfed in via one of the Swedish education portals (1-2 percent, maybe). That’s how they knew open house was at 18:00 last night.
Losing My Nerve
Compared to last year we cut down on the newspaper ads considerably. In fact I only put the advert in Metro a week last Monday.
I felt it was hard to tell how many were going to show up. And YES, I admit it: I was getting edgy. I didn’t have the total courage of my convictions that the Net alone was enough. The school gave their OK too on my recommendation, especially when they heard I’d managed to work a great offer from the paper. So we ran the ad along with numerous other schools in the city hoping to reach their audience.
Back to Last Night
Ten minutes before everything was due to kick off there were about 50 or so people in the auditorium. I was getting more nervous and that’s why I started wandering around talking to everyone. And then they came. About 700 people. By the time things kicked off the auditorium was so full there were a hundred or so people filling the stairs. Apparently this was the record attendance the school has had in over ten years. It doesn’t surprise me because they’re a great school.
After the presentation by the principal and school counsellor I worked the crowd again, asking the same question: “How did you know it was Open House at the school tonight?”
Not a single person mentioned the advert in the newspaper.
If we keep the account for next year I wonder if I’ll be talking to Metro.