An investigation of how three private schools in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal position and market themselves within the private school market.
Von Maltzahn, Hans Christopher.
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Exploratory research was conducted in an attempt to understand how three schools in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal market themselves. The marketing of schools is a relatively new concept both in South Africa and internationally. Not only is the marketing of schools vital, in that it allows schools to use their resources in the most efficient and effective way in satisfying the needs of the customer, but associated with this, is that it allows for a meaningful and relevant education. The schools chosen for this research were Cowan House, Epworth and Hilton College. These schools represent a wide cross-section of schools including a primary school, two senior schools, a monastic boys' boarding school and a monastic girls' school with day scholars and boarders. All of the schools had a marketing function within the school. All three schools applied the basic marketing concept. They were customer focused, were orientated towards achieving long term goals, tried to integrate activities within the school and strongly believed in societal aspects of marketing. Of particular interest was the strong focus on the customer by some of the schools. None of the schools had been exposed to the seven Ps of service marketing, and so did not structure their marketing mix based on the service marketing model. All the schools felt that their staff were a differentiating factor (people) and had impressive grounds and facilities (physical evidence). The major problem that all three schools experienced was developing a differentiated service that separated themselves from competitors within the market. They were not aware of the unique position that they occupied in the mind of the customer, although all the schools felt that they were unique. The result of this was that their marketing mix was not able to support and enhance the differentiated service and proposed market position. A possible reason for the schools not developing a unique position in the market is that they may not analyse the external environment in enough detail. This meant they were not able to capitalise on, or develop,unique internal strengths to satisfy needs that their customers considered important, valuable and were willing to pay for. It is recommended that a more structured approach to strategic marketing be used. This should allow the schools to implement each of the steps required in strategy formulation. If this is done effectively they will be able to match internal strengths with opportunities in the external environment and so develop a differentiated product that is required by the target market. The schools should also adopt a service marketing strategy as education is a service. Adopting the seven Ps of service marketing would allow the schools to implement a marketing mix that is suitable for a service institution. It is hoped that this dissertation will contribute to a better understanding of marketing of schools, allow them to be more focused in their strategy and ultimately result in a better education for their learners.