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Essential guide for marketing to Multi Academy Trusts

    Today's education market presents some excellent prospects for both small and large businesses providing high quality products and services to multi-academy trusts.

    One of the most essential questions underpinning your marketing strategy is who is the ultimate decision maker and how and by whom can they be influenced. 

    More Than Words Marketing is an experienced marketing agency with decades of experience in marketing to schools, Academies and Multi Academy Trusts. 

    Multi Academy Trusts

    This guide offers our best advice for using your list of Multi Academy Trusts to connect with and convert decision-makers in the education sector.

    Which audience should you be targeting with your marketing? Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) or individual Academies? Which methods do you use to communicate with them? And what approach is the most effective?

    Find out below.

    How does a Multi Academy Trust work?

    Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) are multi-school organisations that are intended to raise and sustain high educational standards across many schools through effective collaboration. A MAT is formed when two or more schools work together.

    MATs are responsible for each school's performance, but each school still has its own board, which is assigned by the local authority as agreed with the Trust.

    What has been the impact of Academies on the education marketplace?

    Local authorities used to control purchasing decisions for schools - from large expenses such as buildings and maintenance to everyday necessities like stationary. 

    Schools provided limited opportunities for businesses, especially SMEs, since the market was dominated by a small number of large companies.

    Academies were first established in the early 00's and revolutionised the market, as independent, open-enrolment, state-funded schools, who were able to make their own purchasing decisions.

    It is estimated that 1,170 multi-academy trusts (MATs) operate in England, each managing two or more schools. Furthermore, by 2030 all schools will be academies, thereby making the supply market more accessible for businesses of all sizes.

    In what ways do MAT's and Academies' purchasing processes differ?

    Apart from the obvious benefits that MATs can achieve through economies of scale (examples below), a critical difference is the level of procurement knowledge and experience held by their decision-makers.

    Many schools struggle with getting the best value for their purchases because educators and staff lack the buying expertise. Decisions at the MAT level, however, are usually made by people with prior procurement and tendering experience.

    Academies and MATs both fall under the category of 'contracting authorities', which is basically any government, local government, and NHS funded institution. 

    Since most of an academy's funding comes from the Education Funding Agency (FEFA), it's crucial they consider Public Contracts Regulations whenever they make a purchase, and use the tendering process when a purchase goes above a certain amount.

    Broadly, these apply when the following thresholds are reached:

    for most products and services - £172,514;

    facilities and social services (including catering) - £625,050; and

    for construction work  - £4,322,012.

    At MAT level, it is more likely that contracts will go to tender, the process of which is fully explained here.

    Economies of scale in MATs

    An agreement can be negotiated at Trust level

    Contracts can be renegotiated with just one supplier to cover all schools within MATs at a lower overall cost, where schools initially have contracts with many different suppliers.

    Shared staff can result in reduced costs

    A MAT may only need one school administrator, one school business manager, and so on to handle day-to-day operations at local schools.

    With full centralisation, a MAT might only need five or six members of a central administrative team, instead of four or five members of admin staff for each individual school.

    Management saves time

    By handling wider policy, accounting, and other decisions, the Trust frees up local member school heads to concentrate on school-related matters. 

    New academies often are surprised at how much more time a school leader has to spend on school activities once these tasks are taken care of.

    Knowledge and experience can be exchanged

    Educators may share best practices or alternate creating lesson plans at an educational level. Teachers who specialise in particular subjects could be employed at trust level, and could then rotate between the academies.

    Here's how to get more business from Multi Academy Trusts

    As you plan your MAT marketing and sales this year, here are our top 4 recommendations:

    → 1. Be smart with the price you set

    The contact you are dealing with may have to provide justification for every purchase made to their manager. As reported by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, per-pupil funding has declined by 8% in the last ten years. Everyone has to do more with less.

    Price yourself competitively by:

    ● determining your manufacturing and marketing costs. You should be able to make a decent profit with prices between 20 and 40% above cost value.

    ● conducting a competitive analysis. See who offers similar products and services, and what they charge.

    ● use a well-established competitive pricing practice to produce a "loss leader" product - a non-profitable product that draws customers. Once you have established a relationship with a valuable client, more significant profit can be made.

    ● offering discounts on bulk purchases.

    → 2. Get an individualised, targeted mailing list

    By using a marketing database from More Than Words, you will reach only those with the budgets and procurement responsibility within MATS or individual academies. 

    With a highly-targeted mailing list and valuable, interesting content, you should enjoy far better response rates and save time and money.

    → 3. Focus on customer experience

    Marketing relies heavily on word of mouth. 

    If you deliver a quality product or service to a school along with a first-class experience, the teachers and department heads are more likely to come back to your company for their future supply needs. 

    In addition, they are likely to share their experiences with other teachers.

    → 4. Don't forget you're dealing with experts

    For purchases over £5k, the MAT Executive Team will likely require three or more quotes, and in many cases they will use a formal tendering process for larger purchases.

    Your marketing campaign should remain visible throughout the year so that you are considered when MATs or individual Academies request quotations/proposals. Get to know how tendering works, and how to win business from it.

    Get a list of Multi Academy Trusts in the United Kingdom

    With More Than Words’ list of Multi Academy Trusts, UK companies can promote their products and services to a highly-targeted audience.

    Interested in exploring the opportunities to sell to multi-academy trusts? Our team looks forward to hearing from you.

    You can reach us at 0330 010 8300 or email

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