Although we are able to brand ourselves like never before, keeping up with ever-changing marketing platforms and new channels is a maze to be reckoned with.
Over the last decade, I have had the privilege of working with some major schools, not for profits and large sporting organisations across Australia. The best way to create champions of your brand starts by capturing the data when your prospects are looking – from open days, tours, and prospectus requests – then steward the relationship well!
Here are seven easy to implement tips that will deliver impact!
1. The Prospect Pipeline
The lifeline of every institution is future enrolments. Yet as a sector, we do little to monitor or capture future enquiry data. We are great at managing the current student body and incoming cohort, but when it comes to the longitudinal forecast, not so. However, this is the very data that Boards, Heads and other key decision makers need at their fingertips.
2. Lifetime Value
When marketers are trying to assess impact, one of the best measures of success is the worth of one enrolment. Let’s say St Trinian’s (7-12) Year 7 fees are $10,000. A new enrolment is for six years not one. So, factoring in Years 8-12, the figure is $60,000. Additionally, very few children are a single enrolment. One or two siblings may follow. Further, a happy family will recommend the school to three others. The real worth of one successful enrolment could be the equivalent of six enrolments – $360,000! This does not include the per capita funding from State and Federal Government. This is the true value of one enrolment. Gained or lost.
3. A Paradigm Shift
There is no doubt a paradigm shift has occurred: the client has become the customer. Who has not heard the cry of the aggrieved parent: “I am the customer here”. ‘Customer’ implies a transactional relationship and a product purchase. Education is not immune and is now being viewed through this same lens.
This shift has given birth to another phenomena – the rise of the ‘Helicopter Family’. When things go awry at school, the parent may threaten “to pull them out”; a particularly disdainful expression. This is not surprising because we are constantly hounded to switch. Change your insurance, mobiles, TVs, hotels – easy. Not surprisingly this same pressure permeates the education sector. Brand loyalties are under threat.
4. Our Enrolments Are Full = No Marketing Required
I shudder when I hear the claim, “Oh no, we don’t need to market or advertise, our enrolments are solid.” That’s exactly the reason to market! Why? Make sure brand space is strong and demand remains high. It is infinitely easier to market yourself when you are at the top of the wave then at the bottom – no-one is at the top forever no matter how good. The landscape will ultimately change. (Think fax machines and video shops)
5. Unique Selling Proposition
Educational institutions are only beginning to articulate point of difference. As Steven Spielberg famously stated: “If a person can tell me their idea in 25 words or less, it’s going to make a pretty good movie.” Institutions have a rich tapestry to sell, yet we always hear the same clichés trotted out, “Here at St Trinian’s we are special, we teach the whole person, the intellectual, the emotional, the social, the physical, the cultural, and the spiritual…”
This is not unique or special. Work on describing all the extra programs you offer, especially the ones others don’t have, and weave this into a powerful narrative that invites the response, “Wow! That’s interesting, tell me more…”
6. Word of Mouth
“I chose your school because of your cool website… um no, it was your uber fashionable prospectus… No wait! It was the billboard I saw on the freeway.” Sounds ridiculous? Of course it is. No one chooses a school based on these factors.
When schools ask their parents why they chose the school, the most popular response is invariably ‘Word of Mouth.’ This is usually followed by a shrug of what to do? Everything we do and say as marketers (billboards, prospectus, website) shapes ‘Word of Mouth’. See the creation of ‘Word of Mouth’ as the outcome of your work.
7. Ssshh…The Big FIVE factors are not controlled by Marketers. What?!
For me, the biggest factors affecting a parent’s decision are actually not controlled by marketers. Heresy! If any of these are off, then it makes what we do infinitely more challenging. Get these right and the job of marketing can thrive:
- Customer Service: non-negotiable
- Quality of the facilities: beautifully presented
- Year 12 Academic Performance: core business
- Professionalism of the Staff: set the tone
- School Uniform: students are mobile billboards
I hope you find these helpful!