In the current climate, enrolments staff are not that dissimilar to sales people. For the private school sector, parents are purchasing an education for their children so the buying decision should essentially mirror that of a traditional sales funnel.
In previous years, the independent school sector has seen steady growth in Enrolments, reaching a peak of 38.4% percent of market share. However, for the first time in 40 years, this trend has seen a reversal of 0.3%.
In such a competitive space, it may be time to take look towards modern sales and marketing tactics and ask what it is that your school is doing to attract, engage, nurture and close your prospective families.
Communication is key, and so is timing
Delivering relevant and engaging content is a cornerstone of any marketing strategy, but that content can lose effect if it’s delivered at the wrong time. Consider the three stages of the buyer journey:
Awareness: Parents understand that their children require formal education, but aren’t sure what type of education will be best (e.g. public vs. private).
Focus on delivering content that establishes your school as the ‘authority’ in the region, providing value while remaining neutral. For example, a “Getting Ready for School” checklist or a blog.
Consideration: Parents conduct broad research on schooling options and begin to formulate opinions.
Deliver content that begins to inform parents about your school. For example video interviews with key staff members.
Decision: Parents have established a shortlist. Now is the time to focus your content on what makes your school the right choice.
Reviews and testimonials are a great way to do this. Differentiate your school from the competition by providing a clear path for parents to make a decision.
Keep the Information Flowing
The information that you record can be really useful. It can help you to identify trends and where you can make improvements in your enrolments process.
For example, you may have a steady volume of families expressing interest in your school and a good portion of those families might be filling out application forms. But they are not moving onto the next step of coming into the school for a tour or a meeting. Why?
Having the right tools and recording the right information can allow you to 'deep dive' into the effectiveness of your enrolments process.
- Do you have a tool to quickly identify and communicate with prospective families at specific stages of the enrolment process?
- Is there a single ‘point of truth’ for all of your enrolment related data and communications?
- Can you see a snapshot of your enrolments across the enrolment process?
- Can you track your enrolment figures against budgeted numbers for a given year?
Your Best Sales People
Word of mouth referrals are a strong driver of sales, why not put that to good use at your school? If you have solutions in place to communicate and engage with your parent community, don’t be shy about promoting new programs, facilities, or achievements and make it easy for parents to share the news (e.g. social media share links). You may just find you’re the talk of the town.
It doesn’t finish at the close…
Once a parent has confirmed their enrolment with the school, it may be worth implementing an engagement strategy to make sure your school’s new community members continue to feel welcomed. Keeping the communication channels open with meaningful content and information is a great way to validate the parents’ decision and keep them excited about their journey with your school.