You’re worried that your private school’s enrollment numbers have stagnated, and you aren’t sure how to effectively increase them. Or, you have concerns about future enrollment rates and want to create a plan to ensure a continuous influx of new students.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase student enrollment at your private school. Here are a few strategies that can assist your private school with increasing its student enrollment numbers.
Families have an ever-increasing number of options for their children’s educations. They need to understand why your private school is different from all their other options.
How can your school encourage their child’s development and learning? What sets your school apart? Why are your staff and existing students proud to be part of your school’s community?
Some details that may set your school apart include:
If you aren’t sure what details tell more about your school’s strongest traits, ask current students and parents, as well as staff members, why they’re dedicated to your school.
Once you understand what it is that makes your school unique from other educational opportunities, create a value statement that summarizes your school’s unique value proposition. Use your value statement in places where potential students and their families are likely to see it, such as your school’s website, social media page, brochures, and newsletters.
In today’s competitive environment, a marketing campaign with one message isn’t the most effective way to boost your school’s enrollment. Instead, you need to personalize your marketing messages and utilize segmented messaging to reach different potential audiences.
Each family that’s potentially interested in your school has different concerns about their child’s education. Your marketing campaign should include a message that addresses their specific concerns and pain points.
One way to do this is by using research-backed school personas. A research-backed persona is a representation of a family that you want to enroll.
The persona is based on market research about existing families that have traits that make them a target audience for your marketing campaign. Using a research-backed persona allows you to better target your ideal students and their families in a more customized way.
Your marketing message will address that specific persona’s needs and concerns. You may need different personas for students and parents. Generally, you’ll create multiple personas to ensure you’re reaching all of your ideal targets.
For example, assume that your market research suggests that some parents place a high value on a school with a program that offers extensive STEM courses.
You might name this personal Technology Tyler. To reach Technology Tyler, you’ll use marketing means that fit their ideal medium (such as text message or social media) and ensure that the message they receive appeals to their desire for a school with a strong STEM program.
Some students may prefer schools with a variety of extracurricular activities. This persona is Activity Asher. Your research suggests that this persona prefers to receive information about non-conventional clubs and sports in the mail and via flyers.
Include the following information for each persona:
Unfortunately, most families aren’t going to enroll their students after the first time they interact with your school. Instead, it usually takes multiple interactions before a family decides to apply to and ultimately commit to a private school.
This means that you should maintain consistent communication with potential prospects and continue to nurture and develop these relationships. How you communicate with your prospects will depend on their personas, notably their communication preferences and reading habits.
It’s okay to automate some of this communication. For example, automatic communication (like scheduled phone calls, text messages, or emails) are a terrific way to communicate important information to families, especially about important dates and required documentation for the application process.
However, some of your communication should be personalized to begin building a relationship with the family. Some options that permit customized communication include:
It’s essential for your school to have an efficient customer relationship management tool (CRM) to keep track of preferred contact methods, information about the potential student, and the methods used thus far to reach a family.
Building a relationship requires your school to know something about the potential student and their family; a CRM is a convenient place to keep all this info in one, secure, easy-to access location. Whether the family communicates with a coach, admissions officer, or administrator, your school’s employees will have the info they need for more personal communication.
The family will appreciate that your school is making an effort to see them as more than just a “number” and is instead working to learn about their and the potential’s student’s needs, likes, and concerns.
A CRM will also allow you to make notes about future contact guidelines and schedule follow-up calls or meetings with the family.
Fans of your school, including past students, current students, and their families, are an excellent addition to your school’s enrollment efforts. Your enrollment campaign should harness heir positive energy to reach and attract more potential students.
Social media is a terrific tool to encourage fans of your school to spread their love and praise. A social media post that promotes an annual school event is a wonderful way for current and old students to share their memories and experiences with your school.
You can even use campaigns and contests to encourage students and their families to share more about what they love about your school, complete with photos and videos. Potential students will appreciate hearing testimonials and experiences from individuals who have firsthand knowledge of your school.
If possible, get some swag into your fans’ hands so that they can proudly broadcast their school spirit. You might even offer some free swag to individuals at school events.
Or, encourage your fans to share their experiences on social media by offering a prize that includes pieces with your school logo.
Swag doesn’t have to be free to increase your school’s exposure. For example, if your school holds sporting events, pep rallies, or annual festivals, sell swag before these gatherings so that students and their families can proudly broadcast their school spirit.
T-shirts are always a popular choice of swag because they’re frequently worn and a terrific conversation starter. Other swag ideas to consider include automobile magnets and tote bags. Look for pieces that are functional, useful, and likely to be seen in multiple places.
Before you can decide what steps your school needs to focus on to enhance its enrollment efforts, you need to understand where your school is falling short. A thorough review of the admission process and the admission funnel can help pinpoint where you’re losing potential students.
Maybe your marketing campaign isn’t segmented enough, and you’re not reaching a large target audience. You can address this by creating new personas to assist with your marketing efforts.
Or, maybe students and their families are receiving your marketing messages, but they aren’t being communicated with enough for them to decide to actually apply and enroll.
A stronger CRM system and additional efforts to increase communication can encourage some of these individuals to apply and commit to your school.
Perhaps some potential enrollees aren’t enrolling due to financial concerns or worries about before or after-school care. You can confirm that these concerns are addressed in your marketing message (such as creating a segmented message catered to personas with financial concerns that advertises the availability of financial aid and payment plans). Or, you might work to better acknowledge a family’s worries during one of your interactions with them.
Data can also tell you if a certain component of your enrollment campaign needs to be finetuned. It will tell you what percentage of emails are being opened and which ones are likely to trigger a response or action.
It’s also important to have realistic information about your school’s current enrollment efforts. This will aid you with creating specific enrollment targets that are realistic for your school.
As you adjust your strategies, you need to continuously monitor the success of your efforts so that you can see what’s working and what needs additional adjustments.
If you’re not sure how to implement these strategies or want to receive additional guidance as to how you can increase student enrollment at your private school, contact JAG Consulting Services today.
We have more than 20 years of experience providing high quality consulting services to private schools that want to meet their goals more effectively.