The Education and Youth Board (Harno) is a government agency of the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia that deals with the implementation of Estonian education and youth policy with a goal to offer Estonian people high-quality, modern, and equally accessible educational opportunities. The joint institution was established based on the services of Innove Foundation, Archimedes Foundation, Information Technology Foundation for Education and Estonian Youth Work Center. Harno was set up on August 1, 2020 and it employs just over 400 people. Among other key activities, Harno is responsible for implementing international marketing initiatives (e.g. Study in Estonia and Education Estonia), all national mobility scholarships, education tests, counseling services, innovation in education, digitalisation, quality assessment and many more areas important for development of quality and inclusive education.
As a new and innovative public sector institution, marketing is one of the core functions of Harno. Marketing in Harno takes place in a diversified format to bring a vast number of quality services to crucial stakeholders – students, parents, youth, local governments etc. To ensure that marketing activities are working as intended and find potential areas of improvement, a marketing audit was conducted between September 2020 and November 2020. The audit was done by Raul Ranne, the Managing Partner of EduEnable.
Course of the Audit
The task was complex, especially considering that Harno was created as a horizontal institution with the Ministry of Education and Research, where certain functions were shared between the institutions – for example, handling all marketing activities is the core purview of Harno, while the Ministry handles all communication activities.
Several key actions were undertaken:
- Custom methodology was created to clearly establish different steps in providing services to stakeholders – from service design to marketing, usage of service, communication to feedback loop.
- Key concepts were identified and defined – as Harno is not an ordinary public sector institution, it required customized approaches to both marketing and communication to ensure smooth transition of work between two key institutions.
- Entire portfolios of services offered by Harno were mapped on a departmental basis and listed with their accompanying marketing activities, strategies and approaches.
- Target groups for each service were identified and listed with a wide range of possibilities for future marketing activities.
- Available resources were mapped, and potential shortages identified.
Improvements and suggestions were built within the audit, along with conclusive recommendations.
After receiving the results of the audit, Harno moved quickly and decisively to implement them, exemplifying importance of marketing for the institution:
- A centralized marketing bureau was created with allocated resources and people, allowing fast reaction to changing trends in the future.
- High-level discussions were held to clarify the role of Harno in international marketing, placing more emphasis also on service design in the future.
- Processes were cleared and improvements implemented in various areas outlined in the audit.
- While the audit outlined key issues in Harno, to get a full picture of marketing in Estonian education sector, a follow-up audit was ordered that took an in-depth view also at other governmental institutions active in Estonian education sphere.