Three Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies for Private Schools

I recently registered to attend the Word of Mouth Crash Course in Austin, TX, on May 10. This looks to be an idea-packed event that will be well worth my time (by the way, I  have four 25% discount coupons if you are interested in joining me…just let me know!).

I have been intrigued with how this organization has focused on using word of mouth marketing strategies to help fuel their attendance. While watching them at work, I have thought about how these strategies could be applied to marketing a private school.

Let me share with you some of their strategies and how you can apply them to your school:

STRATEGY #1: As soon as I registered to attend the conference, I received an email thanking me for my commitment to attend.

APPLICATION #1: It might sound like a “no-brainer” to state the obvious, but you need to immediately respond to all of your current parents, inquiries and applicants. Even though their email response was automated, it was also personalized. You should have the ability to respond immediately—whether by phone, email, text, Facebook, or some other tool. In our world of instant communication, the longer you wait to respond the more likely a prospective parent will look elsewhere or a current parent may become frustrated. It might not work anymore to just say that you will respond within 24 hours. We may need to respond within just a few hours. In fact, I know one admissions director that says in his voicemail that he will return a call within an hour!

About a week after registering for the conference, a package arrived in the mail with the new paperback version of Andy Sernovitz’s book, Word of Mouth Marketing. A post-it note was stuck on the book asking me to go to Amazon to write a review of the book.

APPLICATION #2: What if you sent your current parents and prospective parents a school-branded gift after they enrolled? Everyone likes to receive a package. In this case, a t-shirt or mug would help to put a gift in their hands that showcases your school. You could also include a note attached to the gift to encourage them to write a review of your school on Google, GreatSchools or Facebook.

STRATEGY #3: Upon registering for the conference a staff member sent me an email sharing ways that I could spread word of mouth about the crash course and tell my friends. I received links and posts that I could easily put on Facebook, Twitter or in an email to share with my friends. They gave me the tools so that I could easily use word of mouth to help the message travel faster. For example, this is one of nine easy to use posts included in the email: “Learn to be a great word of mouth marketer at the WOM Crash Course in Austin on 5/10.”

APPLICATION #3: What if you applied this concept to your school? Think about every new parent enrolling at your school or every current parent re-enrolling for next year. What if you sent the parent an email message loaded with some ready to use messages that they could post on Facebook or send to friends in an email? The impact could be significant seeing your current and new parents posting their commitment to enroll at your school. The following are some starter messages you could use:

  • “I just enrolled my child at XYZ School for the 2012-13 year. Check out their website (list your website) to discover why this school is the best in the area.”
  • “I just re-enrolled my child at XYZ School for the 2012-13 year. This will be our ___ year at XYZ! Check out their website at (school web address) to discover why more families like ours are choosing this school!”
  • “Selecting a school is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Ask me why I enrolled my children at XYZ School for the 2012-13 year!”
  • “I can’t wait for my children to start school next year at XYZ School! If you haven’t found a school for your child, you should check out (name of website).”

As marketing and enrollment leaders, you need to help word of mouth travel faster and farther by giving your parents the messages and tools!

What are your thoughts about implementing these word of mouth marketing strategies at your school?