Targeting the right audience is vital to the success of your school’s marketing efforts. Being able to identify who you’re marketing to will not only save you time and money but will ensure that all your marketing is focused in the right direction for the right people.
How can your school determine who your target audience is? By using buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a fictional, detailed description of your ideal enrollment prospect. For schools, we’ll refer to them as parent personas since parents who are the ones that make the decisions concerning their children's education. You’ll need to pinpoint these parents’ characteristics in order to build their specific profile.
Parent personas are detailed descriptions that include their age ranges, careers, household income, and lifestyle habits, just to name a few. They also list their respective challenges and motivations. These personas are typically given names to help personalize and remember them, such as “Fred and Felicia Family” or “Arthur and Ann Academic.”
When creating parent personas it's not enough to just create general descriptions and assign a name to them. The process involves a good deal of research and actual data. While creating parent personas is not a complicated process, it is one that involves more than just a bit of guesswork.
The First Step: Gather Information
The best approach to creating parent personas is to collect as much data as you can about your target audience. You can do this through research, surveys, and interviews.
However, don’t settle for generalizing your knowledge about your target parents. One common marketing mistake made by businesses is to assume they know everything about their clients without actually possessing any detailed information about them.
Here are some relevant questions your parent persona should be able to answer, separated into categories:
· Age Range
· Household Income
· Number of Children
· What level of education did you complete?
· Which schools did you attend?
· What did you study?
· Describe your career path.
· How did you end up where you are now?
· Business industry or sector?
· What is the size of your company in terms of the number of employees?
- What is your job title and responsibilities?
- What skills, tools, and knowledge are required in your role?
- What is the parent persona’s primary goal and/or desire?
- What is the parent persona’s secondary goal and/or desire?
- What are your biggest challenges and/or pain points?
Provide any real quotes that represent your parent persona. You can conduct interviews to obtain these quotes. By including quotes in a parent persona’s profile, it will make it easier for you and your staff to understand and identify with your parent persona.
Identify A Solution
As a start, you and your staff can discuss and come up with answers to these questions.
- How can you help with the parent persona’s challenges?
- What can you do to help the parent persona achieve their goals?
Here are several practical methods for collecting the answers to the questions above:
1. Send out surveys
2. Conduct interviews
If you have the time and resources, you can organize focus groups or even one-on-one interviews with your parents. It may cost more in terms of time for both you and your interviewees, but you can gain a better appreciation of their characteristics by talking to them directly. This works as an ice-breaker between you and your parents, as well.
It’s also good practice to interview prospects. These are leads that have shared their contact information with you through your website or other means. You can use this information to confirm the accuracy of your existing personas.
3. Review your online analytics
Look at the people who engage with your website and social media channels. Review their demographic data to identify trends and patterns with regard to their interaction with your school online.
4. Ask your staff
Your best resource is the very people you work with, especially those who interact with parents on a daily basis.
5. Your first-hand information
Being a school leader, you also have a lot of information to share based on your own interactions, observations and overall experience being at school every day.
Present Your Collated Data
After you’ve collected your data, it’s time to fill in the blanks for each parent persona. It’s recommended that you arrange your data in a format that’s easily readable and understood by you and your staff.
Here’s what it can look like, together with values, as provided by Hubspot:
Presenting your parent personas this way will make it easy for you to teach your staff how to talk about each of them. This not only gives your personas an identity, but it gives your staff a way to identify with each parent persona. As they hold conversations with your enrollment leads and current parents, your staff can then offer them solutions that resonate with them, earning their trust.
Why Do You Need Parent Personas?
We've previously listed down three reasons why developing a detailed parent persona is crucial to the success of your school inbound marketing campaigns:
· It Gives You Something To Work Toward.
· It Forms the Basis for All Of Your Content and Strategies.
· It Puts a Face to a Concept.
Remember, for your inbound strategy to work, you need to create content that’s relevant and specifically geared towards your target audience. Instead of sending the same lead-nurturing emails* to everyone in your contacts list, you can segment your parent personas and personalize your messaging, guided by your knowledge of parent personas.
You can create your messaging strategies around each persona and also help convert leads by doing so. You’re then able to spend and budget your time wisely by nurturing leads that can be converted and not waste your time and energy on anything less productive.
Parent personas are created to help you understand your current parents and prospects better. With the parent personas you create, you’re also teaching yourself and your staff how to win over your real life parents in a more creative and empathic manner.
Parent personas are not just templates for increasing your ROI (Return On Investment), they’re also valuable resources that offer important insights on your prospective families. As you understand their needs and concerns, parent personas help you connect and relate to your real life parents on a personal level.
You can share your parent personas with your staff, to teach them on how to adapt their approach towards real life parents and their children.
In taking the time to define your parent personas, you’ll eventually realize benefits in the form of increased enrollments, satisfied parents and a stronger school community.
So, are you now ready to create your school’s parent personas?