Over the last few years, there’s been increasing competition on student recruitment among private schools. This is true for schools across levels, from Pre-K to post-secondary education. Parents and students have more options to choose from and more information to compare and analyze. Any private school that wants to survive and thrive will have to systematically and consistently focus on new student recruitment.
While competition has significantly increased, what has also become clearer is that merely relying on conventional marketing methods won’t be effective. Brochures, billboards, and newspaper ads won’t be enough to reach and engage students and parents. Any marketing outreach to improve student recruitment will have to take into consideration the dynamics of the new media landscape.
If you’re a private school, here are six ways in which you can create a more compelling marketing communication to improve new student recruitment.
As a private school, whether you’d like to admit it or not, you’re a brand. Developing distinct brand equity and communicating it well across all touchpoints will help you stand out in the marketplace.
The first step in branding is to identify your niche and unique proposition. This is the collective value that students and parents will associate with your private school. Next, you need to develop a brand identity paying attention to the logo, color schemes, and tagline. These should sum up your proposition and invite your audience to know more about you.
Finally, you should be consistent in communicating this across all marketing avenues. Once a student or parent sees your logo, they should be able to distinctly remember your brand and what it stands for.
In the highly competitive world of private schools, student recruitment will come down to what’s uniquely compelling about you. It’s this difference that will interest students and their parents. If you don’t highlight your uniqueness, you will be lost in the crowd.
Your difference could be an academic program or a sports team that wins championships. It could be your music, debate, art, or drama clubs. Once you identify that, it will have to be included in all your communication. Instead of hiding it in a section of the website or brochure, your distinct difference should be upfront.
It’s easier to understand the importance of a talent pipeline in student recruitment if you think like a sports team. Any successful team will have a talent pipeline that makes it easy for them to consistently attract the right talent. This helps them identify budding talent and share viable growth and training opportunities with them and their parents or managers.
Private schools should apply the same tactics in student recruitment. It would immensely help if you can identify community programs and lower-level schools and establish relationships with them. Actively share information about your school and how their students will be able to benefit from it.
The important thing about a talent pipeline is that once you establish it and prove its potential, you won’t have to repeatedly invest in it. Once you start attracting students from lower-level schools, that process will organically happen every year.
Private schools have to repeatedly engage with their target groups. This process should happen throughout the year and not be limited to the recruitment months. Remember that if you don’t reach out to your audiences, someone else will.
When it comes to student recruitment, as a private school, you have two separate audiences, students and their parents. The communication that you create for them should be different and so should be the channels that you use.
When reaching out to parents, what you want to highlight are academics and assistance for financial obligations. You should also highlight the success stories of your school alumni and include the inspirational journeys of students who may have faced serious challenges. When engaging students, it should be about the campus life and various activities they can look forward to.
Even in a highly digitalized world, nothing can match physical and personalized interactions. Your digital outreach and online engagement might be top-notch but if there’s limited access to your campus or staff, it might discourage parents and students to consider your private school.
Ensure that parents and students can visit your school without any restrictions. Communicate the timings clearly on your website, email newsletters, and all your social media channels. Your staff should also be available to handle queries. There should be a dedicated team to answer emails from parents and students.
If you share a phone number, make sure that you assign someone to answer calls. The pace and quality of your response will help build the right brand equity for your private school and tremendously help with student recruitment.
People want to associate with brands that clearly state and importantly, live their values. This is why your private school needs to have a mission statement that’s progressive, inclusive, and relevant to the concerns of parents and students. You should also identify causes and support organizations that work on those domains.
Public relations cover the gamut of your social interactions, from your brand perception in mass media to your targeted outreach on digital media. Your private school should have a blog that you consistently update. Mention non-profit organizations you and your students support and share photos and videos.
The focus should be to portray your institution as one that invests in the overall development of your students in alignment with the communities around them.
As a private school, you should view student recruitment as a long-term objective that requires consistent support from all stakeholders. It should also be a multi-channel approach that you constantly measure and make necessary changes to demonstrably improve student recruitment.