Your Most Important Enrollment and Marketing Strategy

What is your most important enrollment and marketing strategy?

School leaders often ask me this question.

While I will point them to word-of-mouth and inbound strategies, I think there is a more important foundational strategy. It is the key to which all of your enrollment and marketing strategies are built from.

Your most important enrollment and marketing strategy begins and ends with your faculty and staff.

It’s what happens in and out of the classroom that makes a difference day-in and day-out. It’s the relationships that are formed with faculty, staff and coaches that make a lasting impression on students and parents. This will drive word-of-mouth referrals and online stories.

I’ve seen it over and over again in schools. A school will only be as strong as your faculty and staff. The people that you hire and retain make the difference. While facilities and stats may make an impression, your school’s personnel will influence a family to enroll and to remain until graduation.

Assuming that you have the best faculty and staff on your team, the following are nine ways that your faculty and staff can help market your school:

1—Serve with excellence in your area of responsibility – The best way to market your school is to ensure that everyone is doing the best job that they can in their area. From the custodian to the classroom teacher, everyone should focus on delivering excellence. The brand on the outside will only be as strong as the brand experience on the inside. When everyone is focused on excellence, your school will be easy to market.

2—Turn negative conversations into positive moments – Your faculty and staff are on the front lines and will come in contact with parents and students on a daily basis. When negative conversations and situations arise (and I promise they will), take time to listen, redirect, and provide solutions. In some cases, these negative conversations will need to be redirected to the administrative team.

3—Tell stories about your school – Every faculty and staff member can be an effective storyteller for your school—stories that communicate the successes in the lives of faculty, students and alumni. As these stories become a regular part of their conversations, your school image will be lifted up and word-of-mouth will accelerate.

4—Celebrate successes – In a school environment everyone likes to be acknowledged for their accomplishments. When you notice something that stands out in a colleague, parent or student, take the time to celebrate their success. A simple note, phone call or email could go a long way in creating a positive culture at your school. And, when the faculty and staff come together for their regular meetings, take time to celebrate with one another.

5—Welcome families and visitors – The warmth of a smile, a friendly hello and handshake (hopefully in post-COVID days ahead) can go a long way in providing a welcoming atmosphere on your campus. When a prospective family visits your classroom or walks by your area, take a moment and introduce yourself to them. Remember, without students and families, your school wouldn’t exist!

6—Focus on retention – It is more cost effective to keep a family enrolled at your school than it is to go out and recruit a new one. Retention is everyone’s responsibility. Make it your goal to retain the students and families in your class the next year by promoting the next level at your school.

7—Provide outstanding service – The way we serve our parents and students can make a huge difference. Make it your goal to deliver outstanding service to your parents and students. It doesn’t always mean that they are right; it does mean that we will be proactive and take initiative in serving our parents and students with excellence.

8—Make positive, personal connections – Most of the time when a parent receives a call or email from a teacher or administrator, an issue needs to be addressed regarding their child. However, positive, personal connections can make a difference throughout the year. In fact, parents want to know how their child is doing at the school. From sending birthday cards to hand-written personal notes, you can create a positive connection and impression.

9—Work together – The faculty and staff should work together as a team. When the team works together in unity, this effort is evident among the parents and students. When the preschool succeeds, the entire school wins. When the upper school succeeds, the preschool wins. The school team that is unified will make a difference in the enrollment and marketing effort.

By focusing on these nine ways to get involved in marketing your school, every faculty and staff member plays a significant role in this effort. And when this occurs, I believe your enrollment issues will be solved.