As we wrap up the Growing Your Enrollment series, let’s talk about inbound marketing. This strategy is essentially creating a piece of digital content, usually an eBook or guide, and then giving it away for free when someone adds themselves to your email mailing list. Each email you send them thereafter provides you with an opportunity to book a tour.
The great thing about this is you’ll build a list of people interested in your school. Once it’s set up, it virtually runs itself. Don’t be discouraged if only a few of them attend a tour at this point – that’s not the goal here. What’s important is that you are building awareness so that people in your community know you exist and what you are all about.
1. Create one or more pieces of digital content
Digital content is anything that people can download from your website. This could include a PDF, eBook or guide that a prospective family would be interested in. If done correctly, this can be very effective and costs little to nothing to get started and maintain. Drive traffic to your digital content by advertising it on your website, your blog, social media, etc.
Examples of digital content:
• Your school’s brochure
• Your school’s approach to curriculum
• Your school’s position on the value of private education
Want to be more creative? Capture the school’s attitude on any of the following topics so that parents can become informed with a “how to” for their own family, and also understand the school’s position on the same matter.
• Discipline: How to be in charge without creating a war in your home.
• Spiritual growth: How to teach your kids to grow spiritually.
• Academics: How to teach your kids to read.
• Community: How to raise socially-aware kids.
• Click here to see a real-world example of a PDF guide (“11 Questions to Ask When Considering a Private School,” created by Whitby private school).
2. Create an email campaign to deliver the digital content to prospective families
What we’re talking about here is when you email someone the content they just requested, followed by a series of emails with equally valuable content along with an ad for your school. These automated emails are sent to prospective families – not current ones – so they should not include your typical school news. They should only include content that a prospective family would be interested in.
It’s a very cost-effective technique because after the initial set up, it requires very little maintenance.
1. Sign up for an email marketing tool, like MailChimp or Constant Contact. MailChimp’s free plan includes a marketing automation tool called a “welcome email,” which allows you to automatically send an eBook after someone signs up and even provide an auto follow up afterward.
2. Send your subscribers subsequent emails that do the following:
• Provide valuable content.
• Invite them to attend an open house.
• Remind them when “time is running out” to register.
• Include a call to action. For example, “Book a Tour” or “Apply Now.”
3. Get the word out about your school by participating in community events
Not all giveaways have to be digital. Here’s an example: Set up a booth at your next city or public event and hand out something for free. This could be a July 4th celebration, a city festival – anywhere you might expect to see families out with their children.
The goal is to bring public awareness to your school and meet families you might never otherwise connect with. It’s also a great way to promote your open house.
Start by contacting your city to see if you can exhibit at a city event. Also, look for events that aren’t sponsored by your city, like a 5K race.
Get creative and have fun:
• At public events, Christ Lutheran School provides free popcorn, a photo opportunity with their knight mascot, and free miniature train rides to kids (compliments of a local model railroad club).
• A funny photo booth is an easy way to draw a crowd.
• One school provided a free baby changing station at a city event that went well for them.
If people are interested in what you offer, be prepared to give them a flyer on your open house or collect their contact info and email them your eBook.
Putting it all together
Each of these strategies we’ve covered in the Growing Your Enrollment series makes the others more effective. A door hanger strategy will yield more open house attendees if you have a website strategy in place that lets them easily RSVP. And a website strategy will be greatly improved by an inbound marketing strategy offering useful, free materials. And then, of course, the more people your community inbound marketing strategy reaches, the more likely your direct mail postcards are to make prospective families remember who you are. Full circle, from online to offline, and back again.
So consider ways you can implement each of these strategies together and all at the same time.
And one final thought – don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
We created Gradelink to help private schools fulfill their mission – we believe children deserve a great education. Meanwhile, we recognize that in order to make that happen, schools like yours also have to find ways to tackle modern recruiting challenges.
We think we have a powerful solution for those challenges. And coupled with the strategies and tactics in this series, a resource like Gradelink becomes an even more effective way to meet recruitment goals. It lets you spend less time reinventing the wheel each year and more time fulfilling your vital educational mission.