Our client is a council owned residential education service who set themselves apart from their competitors by combining residential trips with valuable educational experiences, focusing on the educational benefit pupils can gain from the experiences they have at one of their four residential centres.
What they needed
As part of the local authority, our client historically received their core funding from the council and worked primarily with schools within the authority as an in-house residential education service. They remain one of the few local councils to retain a residential education function, as the majority have opted for outsourced options.
Cuts to local authority funding resulted in a reduction to the residential education service’s core funding – and they now receive no financial support. In addition, the transition of many local schools to academy status threatened their existing relationships – meaning less bookings from schools in the local authority district. To become financially viable, our client needed to commercialise their residential education offering, becoming self-sufficient and driving revenue generation from outside their local authority. They needed to develop a sales process and drive substantial cultural change across the organisation – becoming more outward facing and sales driven. To help with this change, they commissioned us to support their business development process.
What we did
We helped our client develop an initial targeting strategy, by determining which schools or areas would have the most need, or awareness, of the offering and would likely generate the highest return on investment. This included researching those local authority regions which presented most opportunity – for example, those with limited provision in the local area. Using data held internally by our client, we also incorporated a targeted lapsed customer campaign alongside new business generation, encouraging repeat bookings from previous schools where possible.
We put together an integrated lead nurture strategy, aimed at engaging with schools within other local authorities across the region, identifying key decision makers responsible for organising residential trips and encouraging bookings at our client’s four centres. Using email marketing and telemarketing, combined with direct mail shots and data from events, we have provided an end-to-end lead generation service.
With the education sector becoming increasingly outcome driven and many schools facing a tough funding climate, a strong value proposition was essential when engaging with schools to highlight the benefits of the offering and encourage bookings. In addition, as schools tend to have a lengthy buying cycle, timing was crucial to ensure we were engaging with schools before budgets had been allocated.
As our client offers a premium service within an extremely competitive market, we focused on the educational benefits the pupils would gain from the trips, incorporating targeted e-shots with tailored messaging dependent on the area of the school and educational stage. We were therefore able to use real life examples of what other schools had achieved during their visits to the centres, using evidence from nearby schools in the area as a point of reference, where possible.
What we achieved
Not only have we secured appointments and bookings with well over 100 schools, we have also helped shape and develop their overall sales and marketing strategy. From our recommendations, our client now has full visibility of their leads through an internal CRM system put in place over the past 6 months, as well as recruiting a full time Business Development Manager who is developing their internal sales process and handling the opportunity pipeline we have built for them. All of which has helped the service work towards becoming more commercially driven; as a result, they have been recognised as leaders in revenue generation within the council.