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Good, outstanding & beyond – launching a new College Marketing Network resource for strategic marketers

January 27, 2016

Over the past year, we have been working with a group of senior marketers from Good & Outstanding colleges to develop a new resource for strategic and aspiring college marketing managers. We have been discussing and researching a range of topics, and we will soon be writing to Heads of Marketing at member colleges individually with their log-in and password details for the new website that is the result of our work.

The site is in its early stages, and can develop much more with your input. Members  can comment on published articles and you can supply case studies based on your own experience of any of our topics. You can give feedback on areas you’d like to see covered in the future. We very much hope you will share your experiences in this way, and you can download case study templates from the site to help you.

The site is held on, and is supported by FEmarketing, who have given us free access to the site for our resource. However, FEmarketing have no interest in the site and all contributions to it are made by and for college marketing professionals.

Current topics include:

  • Budgeting
  • CRM systems
  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing teams structure and development
  • Marketing Multi academy trusts
  • Market research
  • Mentoring
  • Supporting Ofsted
  • Working with SLT

…and with your help we can develop more.

What happens next

Heads of Marketing in member colleges will soon receive their user names and passwords for the site. You can then view the features, download case study templates, add your comments and experiences to featured posts (all comments will be moderated) and give your feedback.

Your membership of the site will only be valid as long as your college remains in membership of CMN.

We’d like to thank all the contributors to the Good & Outstanding group who have put in so much work over the past year.

CMN networking meetings 2016 – dates announced

January 14, 2016

CMN Networking meetings 2016

Our first networking and CPD meeting dates of 2016 are now arranged for:

18 February – Salford City College (Eventbrite link:

16 March – City of Westminster College (Eventbrite link:

13 April – City of Oxford College (TBC): (Eventbrite link:

11 May – Bournville College (Eventbrite link:

Programmes will be circulated shortly, meanwhile you can book either by completing the attached booking form with a PO for £30 per person (total cost, no VAT), or via Eventbrite to pay by credit card.

Advertorial feature: 10 tips for your next college promotional video

December 18, 2015

10 tips for your next college promotional video: Don’t just tell prospective students why they should choose you. Show them.

Is your college marketing where your audience is?

Further Education marketers looking to target Generation Z (under 20s) are alienating prospective students if they don’t incorporate video as a core part of their marketing mix.

This generation prefer visual communications, expect high quality as standard and name their favourite website as YouTube; 93% visit the site at least once per week, while 54% use it multiple times every single day[1].

With video expected to account for over 69% of all consumer web traffic in 2017[2], get ready now by ensuring your next college promotional video maximises impact and gets results, using these top tips from the education sector’s video experts at Clearhead.

Click here to see the tips in action in Clearhead’s brand new educational showreel (

  1. Begin with the end in mind

1. Begin with the end in mindWhat strategic objective do you want to achieve through creating a video? This could be as simple as challenging outdated perceptions of your college, raising awareness of your facilities or celebrating a significant occasion. Identify who you will be targeting with this content, then decide what you want them to think and how you want them to feel as a result of watching it.

  1. Consider distribution options and attention spans

Videos can be shown at student recruitment events and school assemblies, at open days and on your website, to name but a few options. Although the same video can be published across a number of channels, the end use will shape a lot of its characteristics. For example, if your video will typically be shown with the volume turned off (e.g. in a waiting area or as part of an exhibition stand), then voiceovers and interviews should be avoided. If it’s an overall introduction to your college aimed at 15 year-olds who are comparing a handful of colleges online, then it will need to start strong, maintain momentum and get a compelling message across within a maximum of three minutes.

  1. Make it unique

It’s fine to replicate specific elements of style and content from videos of other colleges that you admire, but avoid a wholesale ‘me too’ approach. After all, what works for others won’t necessarily be as successful for you, and implies a lack of individuality and creativity. Instead, identify what is unique and special about your college and build the video around that. Your brand guidelines may not have been written with this format in mind, but the look/feel and tone of voice sections will provide essential guidance to ensure your video stays on-brand and sits well alongside your other marcomms.

  1. Keep focused

If you try to make a single piece of content communicate effectively about all aspects of your college with all audiences, you will end up saying nothing much at all. Select just one or two things that are aligned with your chosen strategic objective, such as the successful career progression of your students, or the hands-on nature of vocational qualifications, for example, and focus on communicating these exceptionally well.

  1. Tell a story

5. Tell a story copyBack-to-back scenes of students in classrooms will result in a dull and undifferentiated video. Instead, make the whole greater than the sum of its parts by introducing a narrative which builds up towards a satisfying conclusion or finish so that the viewer is rewarded for their time. This could be as simple as ‘a day in the life of…’, with subtly changing light implying the transition of sunrise to sunset, or by following the stories of a group of friends who are studying different courses, finishing with them celebrating their results and progression pathways together.

  1. Be a diva about your locations and your lighting

6. Be a diva about your locations and your lighting copyUse your very best rooms and resources as a backdrop for your video, making sure they are clean, tidy and in perfect condition on the day of the shoot. You may need to move equipment or even time the shoot for an academic holiday to make sure you can get access to the best rooms, but the hassle will be paid back in dividends with the final result. Experienced lighting experts can make the sun shine into your classrooms on the dullest day, flatter your staff and students by making their skin radiant, and add bags of atmosphere that helps to reinforce the emotive elements of your video, so do take professional advice. Otherwise, you’ll risk unsightly shadows from overly harsh lighting or dull, flat lighting that kills any sense of emotion and atmosphere.

  1. Use the best lens you can afford

The indescribable quality of out-of-focus points of light – called ‘bokeh’ in the film and photographic industries – is just one of several elements which is completely dependant on the quality of the lens used. Non-professionals often can’t identify why they prefer better quality footage, but they do pick up on the difference subconsciously. Every video is limited by the quality of glass it was shot through, so skimp on kit and you’ll get video that screams ‘cheap’ and ‘amateur’ – probably not the first impression you were hoping for!

  1. Maintain momentum

Videos are moving visuals, so keep your subject and/or your camera moving at all times. Continuously revealing more of a scene helps to maintain a sense of progression, increasing the chance that viewers will stay interested and pay attention right to the end. Pace your scenes so they feel balanced – if one scene is much longer or shorter than the rest, it will feel out of place.

  1. Use motion graphics to add detail

Motion graphics enable text and illustration to be overlaid into a scene in a visual, fluid and dynamic way. They can help to aid understanding and

bring things to life that are more difficult to capture in film (for example, the contents of a book a student is looking at or the inner workings of an engine that a student is adjusting).

  1. Finish with a call to action

What do you want people to do once they’ve seen your video? Examples are to register for or attend an open day, subscribe to your social media channels or even just leave a comment. Use a final message at the end of your video to incite action, ensuring that it ties back to the strategic objective identified in step 1 and 4.

Click here to see the tips in action in Clearhead’s brand new educational showreel (

Are you planning any video for your college in 2015-16?

Clearhead are the experts in creating world-class, cinematic promotional videos for colleges and universities. Call 01582 410 892 or email to ask any questions about the process and find out how Clearhead can help you.

The clear choice is Clearhead.

[1] Media consumption statistics taken from a 2015 report published by Sparks & Honey

[2] Cisco visual networking index: forecast and methodology, 20014-19 White Paper


Please note this feature does not constitute endorsement or recommendation of this company by the College Marketing Network.

New report published: parental perceptions of post-16 providers

December 18, 2015

Lawson Taylor research consultancy, based in Shropshire, have been in touch about their new research report, Parental Perceptions of post-16 providers. They say:

“Have you ever thought how helpful it would be if your budget supported insightful market research with parents on what they think about the post-16 options open to their children?  An up-to-date report is now available that answers an extensive range of questions on parental perceptions of post-16 providers.

This powerful research report presents the detailed findings of a national survey amongst parents that directly addresses key issues for all post-16 providers and how they communicate with and engage parents in the post-16 study decision process.”

The report is available for £300 +VAT.

Please note this information does not constitute recommendation or endorsement of this product or company by the College Marketing Network.

SFA Comms Update 2015

December 14, 2015

In the latest issue of Communications Update, the Skills Funding Agency’s monthly newsletter designed for marketing, communications and business development staff in colleges and other training organisations, topics include:

  1. Advanced Learner Loans
  2. Higher and Degree Apprenticeship Fact Sheet
  3. Regional National Apprenticeship Awards 2015: Winners
  4. Future Apprenticeships Support Programme
  5. Armed Forces Bereavement Scholarship Scheme
  6. The Apprenticeship Guide 2016

Follow the link to read more here

FE First Awards 2015 – results

November 26, 2015

The FE First Awards 2015 for marketing excellence were made at the Hilton Leicester on Monday 23rd November as part of the College Marketing Network’s 28th Annual Conference, and presented by David Morgan, Director of Marketing & Communications at City & Guilds. Congratulations to all our winners, our thanks to all our supporters and judges, and thanks also to everyone who took the time to enter this year.  It was a great evening!


Communications Campaign, sponsored by Educate Gold Wakefield College
Silver City of Wolverhampton College
Events management Gold South Essex College
Highly Commended Weston College
Website development project, sponsored by FEmarketing Gold New College Nottingham
Silver Aylesbury College
Highly Commended Lakes College
Digital & Social Media campaign, sponsored by Net Natives Gold Birmingham Metropolitan College
Silver City of Wolverhampton College
Highly commended The Sixth Form College Farnborough
Innovation, sponsored by EdgeClever Silver New College Nottingham
PR Campaign Gold Westminster Kingsway College
Silver City of Wolverhampton College
Highly Commended (2) Bishop Auckland College


Salford City College

Specialised Recruitment Campaign, sponsored by Hotcourses Group Gold Shrewsbury College
Silver City & Islington College
School Leaver recruitment campaign Gold Stafford College
Silver Birmingham Metropolitan College
Highly Commended The College of Haringey, Enfield & North East London
Full-time Prospectus, sponsored by EdgeClever Gold New College Nottingham
Silver West Suffolk College
Highly Commended (2) New College Stamford


Aylesbury College

Marketing Team of the Year 2015, sponsored by AoC Gold City of Wolverhampton College
Silver Lancaster & Morecambe College
Highly Commended Writtle College

FE marketing benchmarking survey now launched…

October 13, 2015

A study published today into the state of college marketing in 2015 highlights the need for a more strategic approach and proposes that marketing should be seen as a critical business function central to long term organisational sustainability.

The survey, which was undertaken by specialist educational marketing consultancy Carthy Communications, endorsed by the College Marketing Network, was completed by 122 marketing leaders representing 36% of colleges in the UK. It sought to establish some clear benchmarks for college marketers around structure, planning, budgets and outputs.

The research uncovered a highly professional and qualified workforce in college marketing, with 95% of those leading marketing departments, holding a relevant academic and/or professional qualification. However, the study also revealed that only 36% of those on the college executive with responsibility for marketing have any professional marketing qualifications or experience. This is reinforced by the feedback given by respondents in the study that there is a perceived lack of professional understanding of the complexities of strategic marketing and that the focus remains on operational advertising and promotion, which many see as detrimental to the effectiveness of their work and would like to see a shift-change in the value given to marketing as a strategic function.

The survey has been sent free to colleges completing the survey, and is on sale at a discount to CMn members – contact Fiona at to find out more, and read the highlights here:  FE Benchmarking Info Graphic


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