The best marketing for a school is having happy parents actively telling their friends and colleagues about your wonderful learning environment. Word of mouth marketing works because of the personal connections and is generally the largest source of new students at your school.
This concept of “social proof” is a key driver in how people make choices. They want to purchase (or enroll) with a company or service that they have been told is good by people that they know and trust. There is a reason why so many companies use celebrity spokespeople to help them promote their products.
So how does word of mouth marketing at your school work? Word of mouth marketing actually takes effort, you can’t sit back, and hope people are accurately describing your school to their circle of friends.
Here are three simple steps to improve word of mouth marketing at your school.
Make sure that your parents know the totality of the experience
Your parents’ experiences are going to be shaped by what their child experiences. This is great (especially if the child is happy), but only tells a small picture of the school. You really want parents to understand all of the things that your school can offer in multiple grade levels and for children with different interests. Parents should know the breadth of classes as well as different activities that your school offers, even if their child does not participate in them. If you are a high school, every parent should know where your graduates go and the amount of scholarship dollars awarded to your students. For K-8, tell them how various high school counselors feel about the quality of kids coming from your school.
Utilize online reviews to increase your reach
Your parents are probably telling their friends about your school, but what about those parents who don’t have a previous connection to your school? How are they hearing about your school? I covered how schools should employ online reviews in a previous blog post, which I would encourage you to read for more information about these sites. Don’t discount the power of these reviews! According to Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. When I work with clients, I always look at what their customers are saying in online reviews. It gives an interesting picture of how the school is perceived in the marketplace.
Employ testimonials to deepen the engagement and connection.
You definitely need to have testimonials from satisfied parents and students as part of your marketing materials. These need to be present on your website and in all of your print materials. Utilizing video testimonials for your Web site is a great way to provide maximum impact. They’re easy to do – you can even use the video feature on a smart phone to produce them (or ask a parent with a video production background to help as a volunteer). As a bonus, once you have these testimonial videos created (shoot for about 30 to 60 seconds), they then can be integrated into social media and other places where you are trying to build more content about your school.
Finally, I am going to practice what I preach and share a testimonial from a school I worked with recently.
Washington Catholic is a consolidated (elementary and high school) Catholic school system in Washington, Indiana that wanted to boost their enrollment.
They weren’t ready to engage with us on a full (6 month) assignment, so we did a “secret shopper” analysis that looked only at their enrollment process. This is a quick (1 month) and relatively inexpensive service ($2,500) that gives a school a lot of actionable steps that they can implement to improve their enrollment. As you can see below, the client was extremely happy with the work and we are looking forward to working on additional projects.
As a small Catholic school, we understood the importance of marketing to attract new families but were hesitant to spend our limited budget without knowing where the money would be best spent.
When we found Nick at Bright Minds Marketing, he quickly jumped into action and began working with our school to identify the strengths we should promote and the gaps and weaknesses that needed to be addressed. His report solidified many things we already knew but had not yet quantified and brought to light other areas for improvement that we weren’t fully aware existed. It was powerful to see all these various observations in writing.
Nick was very thorough, professional, and a pleasure to work with. He energized our pastor, principals, and marketing committee (mostly volunteers), and gave us the confidence to act. Through our implementation process, we did not hesitate to reach out to Nick with questions, and he was always open to providing support. It is evident that Nick and the team at Bright Minds truly cares about their work with private, Catholic, and charter schools.
Perhaps most valuable to us at Washington Catholic is the fact that most of the recommendations provided by Bright Minds cost us little to no money to implement. The clear and concise advice was easy to follow and execute, even by those of us who don’t normally play in the marketing arena.
We are pleased to recommend Bright Minds Marketing as a friendly source of reliable and invaluable information around school marketing.
Teresa Joyce, Director of Development, Washington Catholic Schools
Father Paul Ferguson, Pastor