Do we still need a printed school prospectus?

WRITTEN BY: ALISON JOSHI, FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF JWJ DESIGN

Many independent schools invest huge budgets in their websites, making sure they are up to date, relevant and looking modern and fresh, but do they still need to have a printed prospectus?

School printed prospectus

 

‘Print is dead’, this phrase has been flung around for as long as I can remember! As soon as we started moving in to a digital space it seemed that everyone wanted to do the new shiny thing (not always very well!) and could therefore see no need for old printed marketing. 

Yes, there has been a natural demise in ‘traditional’ printed marketing material but print is far from dead and there is a strong argument why it should form a key part of your marketing strategy. 

 

Do we still need a printed prospectus?

My short answer is yes! But obviously coming from a traditional graphic design background you know I would say that! Seriously, I don’t like to print items for the sake of it but I do see that there is a need alongside a website to have a printed prospectus. 

Web and printed marketing items can work brilliantly together if they are considered in the right way. 

 

Target market

First thing to consider is your target market and who you are talking to. 

Often the parent’s are busy, with demanding jobs, they have a limited amount of time and you need to grab their attention quickly and efficiently. A website will hold all the key information and it can be regularly updated. Parent’s can come back time and again for updates and more information. 

But if you are trying to create a relationship with a new family having an up to date website, alongside a coffee table prospectus will mean the parents will consume the information in different ways. 

The website is their first port of call, but after attending an open day you want to leave the parent’s with something to take away, to look at over breakfast and remind them of who you are and your values. 

If you are one of few schools that are leaving parent’s with a beautifully designed document, that shows you have taken care and attention over, you are immediately standing out from your competitors and creating a fantastic first impression. 

 

Copy and content to include

Unlike a website, you can’t always update the prospectus without having some huge cost implications so you want to make sure that the information you include is top level and won’t date quickly. 

The prospectus should be seen as a brand piece, communicating the school’s values, ethos and USP. 

I would recommend a minimal amount of copy teamed with large, inspiring, bespoke imagery that shows off the school and site. 

Infographics are a good way to highlight exam results or high achieving facts and figures if that is important. 

Also remember that once the prospectus has been designed, it can easily be turned in to a downloadable interactive PDF, with shortcuts through to relevant areas of your website should parents want further information. 

 

Quality and print finishes

When investing time and effort in something printed the worst thing to do would be to cut costs on paper stocks and print finishes. You want to make sure the whole piece shines and some of that comes from how it is printed; what paper stock you choose and if you have any additional print finishes like spot UV varnishes, embossing or die cuts. 

Paper stocks and finishes should work with the design, if you want to communicate a ‘down to earth’ vibe then an uncoated stock would be better than anything too glossy and shiny. 

If you have a large amount of ink coverage you will need to laminate the cover to stop it scuffing.

There are so many different printing techniques and finishes that a printer or designer should be able to advise what can work within your budget and give you the premium look and feel that you are looking for. 

 

In conclusion, I think schools are missing a huge marketing opportunity if they are concentrating all their efforts on their website and social media and not considering a prospectus. Information online is consumed in a very different way to a printed document. Once you have seen a social post you don’t go back to it, a printed prospectus will be looked at time and time again, and different information will be taken from that document each time.

 

Please do get in touch if you are thinking about creating a prospectus for your school but would like some advice on how to make it work harder for you; hello@jwjdesign.co.uk