Finding new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones in almost every industry. Private or independent K-12 schools are no exception. Here, we’ll look at three segments of your ‘existing customers’ who should really be addressed within private school marketing strategies.
Every private or independent school marketer is laser focused on recruiting new potential right-fit families, and that is certainly the right place to focus – but there are a few different groups and audiences in your admissions pipeline who could benefit from some targeted marketing as well, to help get them through the funnel (and through the front door on the first day of school next September).
1. Continue marketing to the families of your current students
Re-enrollment is never 100% certain, so the best marketing strategies for schools include retention efforts. This is where you can develop a great deal of goodwill at very little cost.
Your current families are also powerful ambassadors of your school and their positive word of mouth reviews out in the community are critical. What do they want to hear from you? Never underestimate the power of delivering authentic messaging that matches a family’s actual experiences. This is the kind of messaging they pass on in person and through their own social media.
Here are a few ideas to help you connect with these families:
Hosting parent and family events throughout the year is a great way to establish and reinforce relationships. Take that time to identify which families might not be as certain about re-enrolling, and don’t wait to woo them until the re-enrollment contracts have already gone out.
Create shareable content about your school, and ask families to help spread the word! This could be information about an upcoming open house, an exciting school announcement, or a spotlight on one of your great programs.
One of the easiest ways to keep the families of students engaged and excited about your school is by including them in your regular newsletter, and changing the focus of that newsletter slightly to appeal to this audience. This may be a great place to introduce parent networking events, highlighting student accomplishments, offering time to chat with your enrollment management team or other adults in the community, and tailoring messages to remind families why they enrolled their student in the first place.
If you’re not already sending families a newsletter, there’s no better time than now to start! Give our blog on 6 Tips for Better Email Newsletters a read to help you get started.
2. Continue to market to families on your waitlist or in your pipeline
It can be tempting to assume the students who are hoping to attend are guaranteed to stick around – and most of them probably will. But keeping them ‘sold’ is an important place to point your efforts.
Continuing to market to the families on your waitlist can act as a huge resource for you – they are the vehicles for that all-powerful word-of-mouth advertising. If they are excited for and proud of your school, they will share that attitude throughout their communities. Spreading the word for your private school may even make the decision making process easier for undecided parents.
But how do you stay relevant to families who might not be consistent about opening your emails or newsletters? Try a multi-platform approach, incorporating social media channels you might not have explored before. Consider new areas of the digital space and create a plan for your team to implement new ideas. We answered some of our most frequently-stated concerns about diving into new platforms in a recent blog answering the question, Should Our School be on TikTok?
3. Market to families who have been accepted, but have not already enrolled
Your school may have accepted a student, and the parents may have informally accepted a place. However, until contracts are signed, they still have options – and they know it.
These families are often weighing multiple offers or multiple options. This is when they may be most critical and receptive. These families are a key target of digital marketing for independent schools.
Even if you are still their top choice, we know how quickly the enthusiasm of a potential customer in a long pipeline can fade. Now is the time to harness your Admissions and Marketing teams’ power to “close the sale” for these families.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Consider inviting them back to re-visit the school they once fell in love with. This could be a formal re-visit event, an invitation to be a student for a day, or even a personalized tour with someone from your admissions team or a student ambassador who can show them around and answer any questions that remain.
Lean on your current families or student ambassadors to do personal outreaches and congratulate students who have been accepted. Making them feel a part of your community will strengthen their emotional ties to your school.
Offer incentives for families to sign their contract before an enrollment date. Introducing a sense of urgency may encourage families to make their decision earlier.
Looking for new or more effective ways to reach out to families like these? Why not go back to basics and approach them like any new audience? You might find a few useful tips in 7 Questions for New Private School Enrollment and Marketing Directors.
In essence, the key is not taking the families at the beginning or end of your enrollment pipeline for granted. They might not need as much convincing as completely new prospects – and most of your effort (and budget) will still go to filling that pipeline in the first place – but spending a little bit of time and effort to keep them interested and excited about your school can be energy well spent.
At Metric Marketing, we develop measurable and practical strategies to help private and independent schools like yours to make the most of your marketing efforts. We'd love to discuss your private school's marketing requirements with you. Contact us today to speak with our marketing professionals or sign upto receive more marketing tips in your inbox.