One of the biggest challenges a school marketer faces is ensuring the success of their open days. Think about it. A tremendous amount of time, money and energy goes into:
- Planning these occasions
- Ensuring they come off without a hitch
- Making sure people turn up to them
Sadly, no matter how good the open day is, your job is only half-done when the last prospective student leaves the building. Without taking care of the rest of the process, all of your effort up to this point will go to waste.
Following up with your prospects is something many school marketers forget, but it’s a crucial part of the process. Parents can take 3-6 months when deciding what school would be best for their child, so effective follow-up is essential.
And crucially – this doesn’t have to be expensive. Some of the most effective methods are free.
This is something we’ve helped clients with in the past too. Here are two quick case studies for you to peruse at your leisure:
- We helped an Independent All Through school design and implement a multimedia prospect-warming campaign for their Nursery provision that delivered great results. You can read about it here.
- We assisted a selective girls’ grammar school in creating a magazine that would position them as the school of choice in the minds of prospective 6th Form students. You can read more about that here.
Here are five great tips for ensuring effective follow-up with your prospects. By implementing these strategies, you’ll easily get an edge over your competition.
#1: Say Thank You to The Family After Coming
With everything else you’re responsible for in your role, it’s easy to overlook something as simple as saying thanks. Being courteous is never a bad thing when it comes to winning over a prospect – but a lack of appreciation could turn a potential student (or their parents) off your school entirely.
Sending a simple thank you email to the family 24-48 hours is a great way to leave a lasting positive impression with them. Additionally, having someone thank families and students as they leave the event (stationed by the front door or gate) is simple to forget, but very effective.
This is a basic tip, but one you can easily implement, so don’t neglect to do this!
#2: Send Personalised Good Luck Messages to Prospective Pupils
This is a tip which we’ve seen our clients use with great success in their outreach efforts. No matter what students you’re aiming to onboard into your school, they’ll likely be facing some set of exams before joining (be they GCSE’s or entrance exams).
While it might seem like a small touch to you, every point of contact with your prospect matters. If they have a number of potential schools to choose from, taking the time to send a personalised good luck message (on inexpensive, school-branded postcards) can help you stand out from the crowd.
#3: Give Them a Student’s Perspective on What Choosing Your School is Like
One of the quickest ways to get ignored by prospects is to tell stories they don’t care about. And while most of us don’t set out to do so, it’s easy to take the wrong tone, choose the wrong medium or even to focus on the wrong things when we’re talking to our target audience.
In our experience, schools do best when they allow pupils to step up and give honest accounts of their experience choosing a school. Have them talk about how the school supported them in this process, how the school welcomed them, what they were afraid of and how the school helped them through this.
If you can, choose students that are only a year ahead of your prospects, as their stories will be fresher & more authentic.
A peer story is much more relatable than that same story told by a teacher. Don’t forget to leverage your current students’ experiences to help show prospective pupils your school is the right choice for them.
You can dispatch this story as an email, or – even better – you can print it and send it as a personal letter to the potential students themselves. Getting something physically in the post is a rare occurrence these days and is sure to help you stand out from competing schools.
#4: Stay Front & Centre in Their Mind via Regular Newsletters
A quick, simple tip for you to implement – keep your prospects updated with the latest goings-on in your school. Dispatch a copy of your term newsletter to them, and show them all the good stuff that’s happening: sports days, student successes in competitions, future plans etc.
Your prospective students and their parents are unlikely to remember you unless you give them reason to. Keeping them in the loop will go a long way towards ensuring you stay front and centre in their minds.
#5: Leverage the Power of Social Media to Your Advantage
Social media is a big part of any school marketer’s role, and it’s especially important when it comes to keeping your prospects warm.
Beyond the stuff you already know should be part of your social media strategy (regular updates, compelling visual content and the like), you should also consider running student-led Q&A’s.
Allow prospective students to send in their questions on Snapchat, Facebook Live, Twitter or some other platform. Advertise these sessions in advance, and give them the chance to have their doubts allayed and fears assuaged.
The opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction is crucial in fostering better engagement with your prospects. Having their questions answered by a fellow student (someone they can easily relate to) will ensure your content is authentic, relatable, and – above all else – doesn’t seem like a sales pitch!
Effective follow-up is one of the most important things you can focus on as a school marketer.
Planning, promoting and executing an open day is difficult – but sadly, the work doesn’t stop there. Without following up with your prospects, all your hard work can quickly go to waste.
Remember that every additional student that joins your school adds a lot of value to your bottom line, so it’s worth taking the time to follow up with your prospects. And by implementing the tips we’ve discussed here in this article, you’ll be well on your way to doing so effectively.
That’s all for this week. We hope you’ve found these tips useful!