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3 School Marketing Mistakes to Avoid when trying to attract Prospective Parents

Posted by Ralph Cochran on Apr 10, 2014 7:12:00 AM

Are you concerned about the number of families submitting applications to your school? In order to grow your school enrollment to a sustainable level, you want to increase the number of prospective parents who are considering your school. If you are not seeing a yearly increase in applications, then you may be making one of these three mistakes in your private school marketing strategy.

Private School Marketing Mistake 1:
Equating the Admissions Process with the Sales Process

Prospect Funnel
Think about the parents you are trying to reach in your private school marketing. At some point, most of them experience a problem with their child's education that causes them to consider other alternatives. Imagine Mary Smith, whose son Johnny is enrolled in public school. As a committed Christian, Mary is deeply troubled about some of the content being taught at the school. She is also concerned about the friends that Johnny is making in the secular environment. Her worry causes her to start researching local Christian schools.

If your school only pays attention to those parents who have made a visit to your school, you are never going to meet Mary Smith and her son Johnny. You don't want to wait for Mary to find you. Instead, you want to be proactive in your private school marketing and reach out to Mary Smith as she is researching alternatives.

Your private school marketing needs a prospect/sales funnel that attracts and catches people like Mary Smith long before they are ready to enter your admissions funnel. Setting up an effective prospect/sales funnel will increase the number of people who enter your admissions funnel.

Private School Marketing Mistake 2: Not Identifying Buyer Personas

buyer persona know your

How are you going to meet Mary Smith as she is engaged in the process of researching alternatives? It is highly likely that Mary Smith is using the internet to search for alternative educational options for Johnny. She is getting on a search engine and typing “Christian schools in Maryland” and other search phrases to identify educational alternatives near her home. You want your school to rank highly in the organic internet searches that Mary is conducting. When Mary visits your website, you want to make sure that what she finds there shows that your school is going to be a good option for Johnny. 

identify your buyer personas 

You do this by setting up a buyer persona. We are doing this right now by imagining Mary Smith. She is a Christian parent who has grown disappointed with public schools and has a unique set of challenges and goals. By identifying relevant internet searches and crafting the content of your webpage to provide useful information to Mary, you attract Mary Smith and others like her to your school's page and invite her to contact you and set up a visit. There are many other potential buyer personas who would be interested in a Christian school. Developing these buyer personas is an essential part of a private school marketing strategy. You don't want to skip this in your private school marketing.

Private School Marketing Mistake 3: Not Listening and Connecting with Prospects

admissions funnel
Now the rubber hits the road! Based on your effective private school marketing strategy, Mary Smith has picked up the phone to contact your school. What is she going to experience? If she experiences a warm caring person on the other side of the call, it is going to reenforce her sense that this right school for her son. On the other hand, if her contact with the school admissions department is guided by a forced cookie-cutter questionier, then she might become discouraged.

You need to empathize with the prospective parents who contact you. Find out why they are interested in you and let them know you care about them and their children. Training your staff to be empathetic should be an important part of your private school marketing strategy.

Private school marketing is a complex process with many steps that a prospect will often not follow in a linear fashion. This needs to be expected as you are asking parents to make a decision about their child's education. They are going to want to get all the information, do their own research and make a prayerful decision. They are not just going to show up at your door and apply on the first contact(this is why I think it is not wise to put your application link on the front of your homepage).  


The process starts long before they contact you.  Often it begins when they hear about your school from a friend at church or find your website on the internet. Your task as school leader is to help nurture them along this process by providing attractive and helpful content to guide their decision. When you set up this kind of a prospect funnel, you will increase the number of families that actually make applications to your school and meet your enrollment goals so that you can carry out your mission to education children in a wholesome way.

Watch Now: How to Attract Millennials to Your School

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Topics: Private School Marketing, School Marketing, Buyer Personas