Understanding the Awareness Phase of the Family Journey

Several months ago, Andy Lynch and I launched our Enrollment Marketing Geeks brand through a series of webinars. And now, we are building on this by offering our very first workshop in Orlando, FL, from November 30 to December 2.

During this workshop, we will utilize the Family Journey as our guiding framework for enrollment marketing planning as we consider the processes and strategies you should implement at each phase. This framework was developed by Andy at North Star Marketing.

Let’s take a look at the foundational phase of the family journey – Awareness.

The Awareness Phase of the Family Journey

A parent begins the search for a school in several ways.

A natural transition in their child’s life is the most common reason to begin a search. This is when the parent chooses a preschool or Kindergarten, or moves from one school to another to pursue the next division.

Another common transition is when the parent or child experiences a pain point. For example, the parent may be dissatisfied with the current school or there may be a fit issue for the child. This will lead the parent to seek out other options. Other reasons to search for a new school include a move or relocation.

As the parent begins their journey in searching for a school, it is critical that your school is on their radar screen. This is where you should focus on implementing strategies to generate awareness for your school.

Word-of-Mouth is Number One

Regardless of the situation described above, the search process is the same. Word-of-mouth is still the number one way that a parent will seek out a school. Parents will ask their friends from work, neighborhood or social circles, to discuss and recommend schools.  The importance of word-of-mouth is confirmed through every focus group and parent survey I conduct.

Because of this, your goal is to implement intentional strategies that inspire more positive word-of-mouth in your community. However, it’s always amazing to me how many school leaders do not intentionally implement plans to inspire more word-of-mouth. If you know that word-of-mouth is the number one way that parents discover your school, you should make this strategy a priority in your enrollment marketing plan.

Online Research is a Close Second

Online research is the second way that parents discover school options. Once they hear about the school from a friend, the parent will go online to conduct a Google search, view the school’s website, and consider the next step.

In some cases, the parent may first become aware of the school through their online research. Thus, it is critical for your school to appear on the first page in keyword searches, in paid ads, social media sites and ads, and landing pages with downloadable content.

As a result of their search and learning about your school through word-of-mouth or online, the next step they will take is to visit your website. Your school’s website is the front door to your school, and it is a window into your educational experience.

Therefore, these online strategies should become a key component of your plan to increase awareness for your school. Besides word-of-mouth strategies, your priorities should be focused on online marketing.

Awareness can also be generated through traditional advertising such as print ads, radio ads, billboards, or direct mail. However, these strategies are costly and least effective. These strategies are typically the last area to consider spending your limited marketing dollars. While it is possible that some awareness can be generated, these traditional strategies do not result in leads for the admissions staff.

Generating Awareness for Your School

In summary, a parent begins the family journey at your school when they have awareness that your school exists. For you to be effective in your strategies in this phase, you must focus on building this awareness primarily through word-of-mouth and online marketing strategies.

What strategies are you generating awareness for your school in your community?

During our upcoming Enrollment Marketing Geeks Workshop, we will unpack this phase of the family journey and the strategies that can be implemented to generate awareness (as well as the other phases). These strategies will be foundational to your school’s enrollment marketing effort. Plan to join us on November 30 in sunny Orlando and make sure you take advantage of our early-nerd discount – gotr – to receive a $100 discount when you register by October 14.

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