Interesting times? Concentrate on the basics
This time last year, a respected international commentator presciently forecast that we were only three election results away from “the end of the West”. Well here we are, two down and the third, the French presidential election, is now upon us.
Future historians are going to make their reputations on the period we are currently living through. The foundations of the relative geopolitical stability we have enjoyed for more than 70 years are being almost daily undermined. Events unpredictable even a few months ago, follow one another in rapid succession.
For example, we now face another general election of our own, and at the time of writing, we are a few days from the French presidential second round – one outcome of which, following our own referendum last year, could almost certainly see the end of the European Union in its current form.
In such momentous and uncertain times, prediction is even more hazardous than usual. That said, in our own sector, it was hardly surprising that the Labour Party should announce a policy of free school meals for all, financed by the imposition of VAT on independent school fees – a policy option made possible, of course, by Brexit and the consequent removal of the EU ban on the taxation of education.
But who would now bet against the Tories shooting Labour’s fox? A resoundingly re-elected Theresa May government, one which is already happy to crack the charitable status whip, might well find a fortuitously available taxation option a tempting stick with which to beat a sector still reluctant to commit itself wholeheartedly to supporting state education initiatives.
This is, of course, the best time to be pressuring candidates and parties for pledges on such threats. Beyond that, however, what are schools to do in these interesting times?
Concentrate on the marketing basics, that’s what. Is your market intelligence up to date? Are you able to target families who have the ability to pay fees? Is your marketing strategy appropriate for changes to demand in the market? Do you have current information on what your parents think of you, and your competitors?
At a time when all the political and economic indicators suggest long-term uncertainty and fragility in our markets, it is those schools which have marshalled their marketing resources most effectively, and taken steps to keep ahead of their competitors, which will continue to thrive.